Subject: Friends of Regent's Canal - Events and News

Dear Friends,

Here are some forthcoming events and some recent news items.


Today - Monday 15th April, at 7:15pm, Lester Hillman will be giving a canal bicentenary talk at Holborn Library.
(32-38 Theobald's Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8PA. Nearest underground station: Chancery Lane).
Admission free.
For further details, visit

Saturday 4th to Monday 6th May. Canalway Cavalcade 2013.
A 3-day Canal Festival at Little Venice.
Admission free.
For further details, visit

Wednesday 22nd or 29th May.
The next Friends of Regent's Canal Public Meeting.
Admission free.
If there is anything you would like to add to the agenda, then please let me know this week, before the meeting posters are printed.


The new cafe is now up and running at City Road Lock. It had originally planned to open on 18th March but the towpath closure rendered it impractical until this week. Its current opening hours are 8am to 6pm. There is no website yet for the cafe, but you will find updates on its Twitter account ( Please visit the premises if you are in the area and please provide feedback to the owner while there is still a chance to influence the way it will operate in the future. This has always been a popular spot for sun-worshippers and I would appreciate people's thoughts on whether the public should be discouraged from climbing over the lock gates, using the lock as a patio or offering their legs as fenders for 20 ton vessels. This could be a good time to emphasise some safety regulations at locks and to draw some boundaries.


On Thursday evening the Tower Hamlets councillors voted against the Bow Wharf redevelopment plans and one of the reasons cited was the impact on the conservation area. The planning application had been prepared in the name of British Waterways (BW) in November 2011 and was stalled by the London Fire Brigade. Some adjustments were made, to satisfy the fire regulations, but otherwise the design was unaltered and it was assessed again in the name of the Canal and River Trust (CRT). There has been persistently strong opposition from local residents, just like with any other development that affects people's daily views; but it transpired that there was something different this time, because it affected views that were appreciated by everybody who used the towpath, not just the immediate neighbours. The councillors' decision might actually be a blessing in disguise for the CRT because it will give the Trustees and Friends of the CRT time to reflect on whether the CRT's policies should be a continuation of BW's policies or whether some wider consultation is required. I recommend that the Friends of Regent's Canal should hold discussions on what types of development are acceptable in a conservation area without compromising the visitor attraction. A balance needs to be struck - and clearly the November 2011 design did not hit the right target - so this could be a worthwhile agenda item at our next public meeting in May.


The plan to demolish Holborn Studios has attracted widespread and passionate opposition, to a degree that the applicant and the council could never have anticipated. The public consultation period ended on 25th March, but this should not deter people from exchanging ideas or submitting further comments. The council will be meeting the developers later this month and will decide a way forward. They might conclude that the proposed changes are unviable, as well as unpopular, and that the existing buildings are both fit for purpose and gainfully employed, in which case "if it aint broke don't fix it". Depending on the outcome of this meeting I would expect the Friends of Regent's Canal to want to help to find acceptable alternative designs or to help to promote different usages of the existing frontage.

Please note - this is just a small selection of the events and news items of interest to everybody. I hope to produce a more comprehensive report later this month. Meanwhile please contact me if you want to discuss any of these topics.

Best wishes,

Ian Shacklock
Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

15th April 2013

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