Kember Street flat furore – this is hardly the first time

kember street flat

The national (and international) media have been expressing their incredulity about the letting of a clearly awful flat on Kember Street off the Cally Road (behind the Co-Op) for over £700 per month (Guardian, Independent, Huffington Post).  It isn’t clear if the flat was in the Residence Primrose building which we have covered before. They haven’t picked up yet that this is symptomatic of the huge problems that Cally has had with inappropriate properties created by rogue landlords over the last two decades – not a recent symptom of the London property market.

This was brought to public attention in the brilliant BBC ‘Secret History of Our Streets’ documentary in 2012.  Which first lifted the rock to reveal a glimpse of a large scale local landlord who was subdividing properties into smaller and smaller units as he ‘milked the cally like a cow’. Further work by the council revealed that one landlord owned over 100 properties locally. Some of his tenants picked this up in the #callycows campaign.  I reported on the huge community meeting at which the council planning officers were unable to explain how they had allowed a slum empire to develop on such a scale.  Whilst individual landlords are of course responsible for creating tinier and tinier properties, the #callycows work revealed that the council planning officers didn’t seem to have had a grip on the issue for a decade or two in the face of a systematic build first, ask permission later approach to development.


Cllr Paul Convery has commented below that the council has put enforcement action in train. Councillors objected to yet more flats of this sort being built above the Co-Op in 2011.  The Gazette reports that the estate agent has been receiving threatening calls.  And here is coverage in the Evening Standard, Irish Independent, LBC, The Metro (which I see is linking back to this sites work in 2006) and Buzzfeed,

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Planning, Licensing and Regulation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Kember Street flat furore – this is hardly the first time

  1. This flat is not legal under building standards regulations, with a bed in the kitchen, so why isn’t the Islington building inspector inspecting these properties and condemning them? Why not name and shame this landlord?

    • Lynne says:

      It’s possible that the landlord is the one referred to in the TV programme linked to in the article. I guess you can’t ‘name and shame’ without being sure. I am disgusted that this well-known problem hasn’t been sorted out yet. I also hope that the electric cooker in the photo has been installed correctly, given its location next to the sink.

    • Tony Rees says:

      This block was designed as a hostel and the rooms are almost all small single hotel room size with a tiny shower room. Owned by our favourite rogue landlord this “hostel” has been let as flats for years. After the tv programme exposing the appalling state of some of the rented accommodation in the Cally Rd there were public meetings where the Council promised to do something, but what has been done? The Cally Plan will result in some minor environmental improvements but it seems tackling the more serious and difficult problem of rogue landlords and inadequate housing has been quietly dropped, or am I wrong?

  2. This property is very definitely the warren of bedsits owned by Andrew Panayi previously known as “Residence Primrose”. These are rooms arranged over the 2 floors above the Co-op store on Cally Rd. Plus there is no other residential address on Kember Street. We have triggered plannign enforcement and environmental health (Housing Act) inspections this morning. It looks suspiciously like an existing “apartment” has been subdivided, without planning permission. During the course of the election campaign, I visited these apartments a couple of times and have met with several of the residents. These are very high turnover tenancies with many residents staying no more than a few weeks never mind months or years.

  3. Pingback: Kember Street in the news

  4. Pingback: Awful Kember Street flat – links to the BBC documentary that exposed extent of unlicensed development | Kings Cross Environment

  5. Rozsien says:

    I can confirm that I have lived next door during my Uni years a couple of years ago – at number 1 Kember Street, the rent then was 563 a month….not only was Andrew problematic but so was the agency that represented him at the time (not sure about now) by the name of Alpha Accommodation, who lied about a number of things prior to me signing the agreement. Granted I should have read the agreement with more detail but theyre still slimy nonetheless.
    As for living conditions, I was ill pretty much all the time and the problems which arose from inside the flat arose from pretty much every nook and cranny. No amount of complaining helped and as a result I had to leave and pay for charges that Andrew was responsible for. I was a student in my last year at uni, I was broke, helpless and somewhat naive. I still suffer with my health, from the problems I had in this nightmarish hell hole of a flat and I feel sorry for all the people living there. I feel that in this day and age it is ridiculous that these landlords can do whatever they want and treat their tenants as if this is the middle ages.
    If anybody wants proof of tenancy agreement and receipts, please email me at

  6. Pingback: On the Panayi property trail…. | Kings Cross Environment

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