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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.

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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?

IAN SHACKLOCK

Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

Article, 31st March

Letter, 7th April

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