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Conservationists warn new development in Camden Town will ‘disfigure’ canal

Architects say designs for Royal College Street site 'reflects the history and current feel of Camden

10 November, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

How the blocks in Royal College Street will look

THE creeping redevelopment of industrial buildings along the Regent’s Canal has left conservationists calling on the Town Hall to intervene.

Members of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area Committee say new plans to build blocks along the historic waterway will cause irreversible damage. The latest scheme on the desks of council planners is a bid to create a six-storey block on the corner of Pratt Street and Royal College Street in Camden Town.

CAAC secretary Del Brenner warned against allowing a series of high-rise blocks by the water. He said: “The right sort and scale of development and change that does not blight the area would not be opposed, but the exploitation and the greed of this application is strongly contested.”

There have already been a series of battles to protect the land next to the canal. A bid to demolish clothing firm Ted Baker’s headquarters are on hold due to a legal challenge. Camden has rejected two attempts to redevelop Bangor Wharf and the future of the Parcelforce site remains unclear. The new plans for Royal College Street, submitted by developers Camden Property Holdings, would see a light industrial unit bulldozed and replaced with a six-storey building of 32 new homes, offices and ground-floor retail units.

Mr Brenner said: “If this overdevelopment is allowed, there would be a significant loss of sky and views over Regent’s Canal and its important conservation area. The scale of the development would have a serious negative effect on the open space of the Regent’s Canal, and would overpower the charm and calm of the waterway.”

He added: “It is the community and London, in the long-term, that are harmed and exploited, and in this case with a gross oversized development, the further disfigurement of Camden Town. “There would be one winner and many losers.”

Developers say the objections are unfounded, adding they had held a number of meetings with Camden officers, councillors and the Camden Design Review Panel, who they claim were “generally supportive of the proposals and its design principles.”

The developers say their project would make better use of the land and create housing while keeping light industrial units, providing office space and bringing financial benefits for shops, leading to an increase in business rates collected for the council.

Site owner Sascha Lewin said: “We feel Camden is a really exciting area for development – and this project is in no way damaging. It is an improvement. “The site is unbelievably underused and the architecture does not add anything to Camden. It is very hostile – it is really quite a strange design, with long blank walls.” The new buildings will be split into three blocks with a public space at its centre and a new through route created from Royal College Street to St Pancras Way.

Architect Peter St John told the New Journal the use of red brick, stone and concrete reflected other buildings in the area, ranging from the historic Golden Lion pub to nearby Victorian streets.

Mr St John added: “We needed to build something that reflects the history and current feel of Camden. We have a housing block with balconies that look over the canal. It is a particularly appropriate image of living in the city.”

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