Friends of Regent’s Canal - Meeting Report

Date and Time:
Wednesday 23rd September 2015, 7pm to 8:45pm
London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT

Ian Shacklock

1. Present

Gillian CominsAngel Association; Living Streets
Andrew DismoreLondon Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
Hilary Norrisresident, Treaty Street
Steve Bassresident, Treaty Street
Gerald Grimes
Martin Oliva
Kerry Cox
Joanne MouldCamley Street Natural Park
Andrew Deans
Roger Brown
Rod GrayInland Waterways Association (IWA)
James Atherton
Robin Davies
Richard Drew
Phil Wain
Sanna Jonsson Buttery
Keith SouthamRambler
Fiona CullenAngel Association
Clare Downey
David Jonsson Buttery
Andrew Boxer
Mike DohertyNational Bargee Travellers Association(NBTA)
Sorwar AhmedCanal and River Trust (CRT)
Hazel SaundersBow Boat Company
Nic ShoreVolunteer
Gordon MeenReachview Resident
Annie Viort
Guy TaylorProspective boater
Eric SorensenAngel Association
Ian ShacklockFriends of Regent's Canal
Richard ElkanLondon Canal Volunteers CRT
Del BrennerRegents Network. London Waterways Commission; Regents Canal CAAC
Ali RawlingsLondon Boaters
Steve BallardResident. CRT volunteer

2. Apologies

Caroline Neller

Roger Squires

Cllr Una Halloran

Fiona Maclean

Carolyn Clark

Beryl Windsor

Martin Reading

David Fathers

James Tregaskis

Garrie Naden

Molly Gadenz

Dave Bedford

John White

Cllr Philip Glanville

Lee Wilshire

Marina Economidou

Jonathan Malins-Smith

3. Introductions

3.1 At the start of the meeting, all the attendees introduced themselves.

4. Help required with running Friends activities

4.1 The chair appealed for help in maintaining website events, reports and news, along with e-mail correspondence. The website, Twitter account and Facebook groups are useful platforms but they are not being utilised fully. He invited attendees to contribute photographs and information and to scrutinise the events lists for missing items.

5. Amenities gained and lost

5.1 Vincent Terrace walkway was re-opened to the public in May. A Friends group now exists to maintain the vegetation and its website address is

5.2 The Pump House Cafe (at City Road Lock) has remained closed for most of the year. This was due to plumbing problems that could only be fixed during the holiday period at Hanover School.

6. Angel Canal Festival


6.1 This year's festival (on Sunday 6th September) was very successful and around 6,000 visitors came to the canal.

7. Canal clean-up events

7.1 Lower Regent's Coalition has organised a clean-up near Limehouse on Wednesday 30th September, 6pm to 8pm. (See Facebook page).

7.2 London Boaters have organised a clean-up near Limehouse on Sunday 11th October.

8. Hertford Union Canal de-watering

8.1 There were plans to drain the Hertford Union Canal for repairs during October, November and December. This would have created disruption for boaters and clean-up opportunities for volunteers. Posters about this have appeared along the towpath. Sorwar Ahmed announced that the arrangements have changed and that part of the Regent's Canal would be drained while the Hertford Union would remain open.

9. Appeal for gardening volunteers in Westminster

9.1 The Canal and River Trust (CRT) has started to pave over some of the green verges along the towpath in Westminster. This work is being funded by Transport for London and some of it has been put on hold following complaints from biodiversity supporters. If we can find volunteers to adopt and maintain these stretches of the towpath then the CRT is willing to leave some of the verges alone. Further information is available on our website.

9.2 Suggestions from the floor included Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme participants, TCV Volunteers and Green Gym.

10. Camley Street Natural Park

10.1 Jo Mould, the North Regional Development Manager for London Wildlife Trust, gave an illustrated talk about current and future activities in Camley Street Natural Park.


10.2 Jo explained that the visitor centre was in a poor state of repair and that Argent will be partially funding its replacement as a planning gain. There is a public consultation to determine the most suitable design and the type of amenities that will be included. Members of the public can contribute to the survey here. A cafe, for example, is likely to attract more visitors to the park and if the new centre blends in with the rest of the park then it will be a welcome contrast against the surrounding high-rise glass and steel buildings.

10.3 Another major change on the horizon is a new footbridge that will cross the canal below St Pancras Lock and will cut through the northern end of the park. Some disturbing images of the proposed bridge were presented at our meeting on 13th May 2015 and Jo is of the understanding that tree loss will be minimised because most of the trees are protected. Some loss is inevitable since the area the bridge is situated in is currently woodland, but the council will still need to agree to it.

10.4 At the meeting on 13th May people expressed doubts about the need for a footbridge over this site when there are other nearby means of crossing the canal, but Jo advised that both Camden Council and Argent want to provide this crossing, hence it is better to campaign for an acceptable design rather than to campaign against the concept of a bridge. The current proposal is a vast improvement on the original design that would have cut right through the middle of the park.

11. Revival of Dead Dogs Basin

11.1 Camden Council has received a planning application (reference 2015/4774) that would result in the partial loss of an enclosed canal basin.


11.2 Further information is available on our website, in Waterways World and in the Camden New Journal.

11.3 The chair offered to write to the council, in the name of the Friends of Regent's Canal, to object to the encroachment onto the water space. The meeting agreed to this.

11.4 The attached leaflet was circulated at the start of the meeting.

12. North London Waste Plan

12.1 The chair raised the subject of the North London Waste Plan (NWLP) because this had been brought to his attention from different sources with different priorities. Water-borne freight campaigners had welcomed the plan's approach to finding waterside sites that would take the strain off the roads and utilise the waterways and railways. By contrast, residents near Eagle Wharf Road were concerned about a plan to build a recycling station between a narrow street and the canal. One of their concerns was the extra road traffic that it would attract.

12.2 Del Brenner explained that twenty-first century recycling facilities were relatively clean and odourless because they made use of sealed containers. He had been working with University College London on a strategy for using the waterways more effectively and was about to produce a paper named "Barging around London".

12.3 Andrew Dismore AM told the meeting that comments were due in by Wednesday 30th September and that there were no specific planning applications yet. It was felt that there was no burning need for the Friends to comment on the overall plan.

13. Demolition of Holborn Studios

13.1 Hackney Council has received another planning application to demolish industrial buildings on the Holborn Studios site. The planning reference is 2015/2596 and there are further details and images on our website. This application has been in the pipeline for several months but local residents were not made aware of it until shortly after the Angel Canal Festival.


13.2 Andrew Boxer read out a statement from Vince McCartney, founder of Holborn Studios.

13.3 The chair explained that the Friends had been campaigning to save these buildings for nearly three years. Our first public meeting about this was on 7th November 2012 when the developers' representatives presented their proposals. At that time we were fighting to protect the canalside frontage of the buildings and were unaware of what happened behind the scenes. We later discovered that there was a large photographic studio complex in full operation on that site and since December 2012 we have worked in partnership to promote each others' work. It has been a logical and natural partnership because photography and the canal go hand in hand and locally-owned businesses are obvious participants in Friends of the Regent's Canal activities. This led to an open day on 14th March 2015 when members of the public were invited to join free tours of the studios.

13.4 When the first planning application was submitted in February 2013 (reference 2012/3923) it was later withdrawn after the council advised the applicant that it would never reach the planning committee stage. A year later the council added the buildings to its local heritage list. (See here for news of this initiative and the support it gained). The Golds subsequently abandoned their plans and sold the land to Galliard Homes.

13.5 The chair offered to write an objection letter in the name of the Friends of Regent's Canal and asked for a show of hands. There was one abstainer and all other attendees voted against demolition of the studio buildings.

13.6 The attached leaflet was circulated at the start of the meeting.

14. King's Cross Visitor Mooring Proposals

14.1 In July 2015 the Canal and River Trust (CRT) published some proposals for visitor moorings in the King's Cross Area. A copy of these proposals (in PDF format) is available on our website.


14.2 The official deadline for comments was 7th September but Sorwar Ahmed is still prepared to receive comments.

14.3 A number of people had written directly to the Friends of Regent's Canal with comments and queries. For example, users of Battlebridge Basin required a mooring restriction at Tiber Gardens to ease navigation. One correspondent wanted to know which demographics of boaters were suited to the 7-day mooring rule.

14.4 Some local residents and boaters told the meeting about their experiences in recent months since the mooring spaces had been reconfigured. Sorwar Ahmed stated that there will still some outstanding issues with the proposals and the start of the 12-month trial had been postponed.