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Conservationists warn King's Cross redevelopment plans would be 'oppressive and overbearing'

31 March, 2017 - By Koos Couvée

CONSERVATIONISTS have warned that plans for the redevelopment of Victorian warehouses near King's Cross will "destroy for ever" the historic character of the buildings.

In a joint letter to Town Hall planning chiefs, the Islington Society and Islington History and Archaeology Society said proposals for Regent's Wharf, in All Saints Street, would be "oppressive and overbearing and not appropriate to its location".

Under the plans, submitted to Islington Council just before Christmas, the Regent's Wharf Unit Trust wants to demolish some non-historic buildings, and build a part-four, part-six-storey office building in its place.

It also wants to build roof extensions onto the Victorian warehouses.

The letter from the conservation groups said: "There is a common view that what is being proposed is detrimental to these historic buildings and destroys for ever their authenticity.

"The canal is rapidly becoming one long canyon of high rise homes too expensive for the vast majority of Islingtonians to afford either to rent or buy. Other old buildings along the canal are under attack from developers . and we are reaching the point where people will say: 'We can't allow any more 'development' because we are in danger of not having any examples of the original canal buildings'. They are our history and should be our children's history."

The Friends of Regent's Canal have also objected to the plans. A date for a committee hearing has not yet been set.


07 April, 2017

WHERE would we be without the conservationists of the Islington Society and Islington History and Archaeology Society?

Probably in a sterile environment riddled with contemporary architecture and devoid of any tangible connection with our industrial heritage.

Their views were summed up quite nicely in your article about the Regent's Wharf plans (Conservationists oppose 'destruction' of historic warehouses' character, March 31).

Your images have revealed that the hideous roof extensions would be clumsy and offensive to the eye and that's why there was an overwhelming agreement at our recent public meeting to oppose this design.

However, a less obvious reason for challenging the plans was that the developers have stubbornly refused to use the canal properly during construction. They would happily bombard our narrow streets with unwanted HGVs instead of allowing materials and waste to purr along the waterway.

This has stemmed from an ill-advised consultancy report, written from afar, claiming that the canal is too shallow and narrow to be used for barges. Clearly, the report's authors had no idea that neighbouring King's Place was constructed in exemplary fashion using waterways, not roads, for transport.

There is a lot to be said for relying on local knowledge instead of outsourcing to remote commentators.

Thankfully, Councillor Paul Convery has recognised that this is a perverse attitude. After all, developers should be bending over backwards to demonstrate that they are giving something back to the canal rather than merely exploiting it. And what better way to do that than to use it for the purpose it was originally designed for?


Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

Islington Tribune, 25th August 2017

Warehouse plans 'will create canyon canal'

Residents and conservation groups oppose developer's bid to build roof extensions on Victorian buildings

25 August, 2017 - By Koos Couvée

PLANS to redevelop Victorian warehouses will turn Regent's Canal near King's Cross into a "canyon", campaigners have warned.

Developer West End of London Property Unit Trust (WELPUT), which has a real estate portfolio worth £1.2billion, wants to demolish some of the site's non-historic buildings, and put up a six-storey office building in their place.

They also want to build roof extensions of one and two storeys at Victorian warehouses.

Surrounding residents and conservation groups, including the Islington Society and Islington History and Archaeology Society, oppose the plans.

James Dunnett, who is an architect and a member of the Islington Society, said: "The canal is already quite narrow. If you do this [add height to buildings], you end up with a canal that feels like a canyon. There's got to be some relationship between the height [of buildings] and the width [of the canal].

"It seems like they're trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot. I think the scale is already big enough as it is."

The Friends of Regent's Canal has objected to the plans, opposing the scale of the development and the developer's refusal to consider using the canal to take away building waste, said group chairman Ian Shacklock.

Mr Shacklock pointed out that for the construction of nearby Kings Place, the arts venue and office block housing The Guardian newspaper, barges delivered materials and removed waste.

"They are refusing to use the canal to take the waste away," he said.

"It's 100 yards from Kings Place. That was built from the canal upwards and proved it could be done.

"We don't need thousands more lorries to bombard the surrounding streets. The canal is environmentally friendly - it's almost invisible. It would also create an investment for the canal.

"We've been trying for years to change [developers'] mindsets. Even if [councillors] vote for this, there has to be a condition where you have to look into using the water. Do the canal a favour and take strain off the road."

Mr Shacklock added: "They're giving absolutely nothing to the canal. They're overshadowing, raising the heights of the roof, plunging the canal and neighbouring houses in darkness. It turns it into a canyon. It becomes claustrophobic."

Earlier this year, conservationists warned that plans for Regent's Wharf will "destroy for ever" the historic character of the buildings.

The application will come before Islington Council's planning committee on September 7.

WELPUT did not respond to the Tribune's request for comment.

Article, 31st March

Letter, 7th April

Article, 25th August

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