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New floors planned for Ice Wharf building at Camden Lock

Conservationists warn against 'race to the skies'

20 April, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Plans would see the Ice Wharf building in Camden Lock extended upwards

A SCHEME has been unveiled to build new extensions on a landmark building that overlooks the historical Camden Lock on Regent’s Canal.

Plans have been lodged at Camden Council that would see new offices and shops built on terracing of what is known as the Ice Wharf building, which is home to a Wetherspoons pub.

The scheme has attracted interest due to what conservationists say is a “race to the skies” in the neighbourhood, as property developers ask for added room and extra floors to match higher buildings in an area that has seen a boom in building.

Across the road from the Ice Wharf, landowners Market Tech’s plans for the Hawley Wharf site are well under way, with a building of seven storeys under construction. Other developments nearby include plans for a towering housing development of up to 14 storeys being drawn up for the Chalk Farm supermarket Morrisons site, while a new housing block of seven storeys is being built by the Kentish Town Road lock bridge.

In the Ice Wharf application, owners Castlehaven Row say the top floor extension could be either used for office space or as a new restaurant and includes “enhancing” the public realm – an area on the canal overlooking the historic horse bridge and locks, which are currently used by the pub as a garden.

Because the plans would mean an increase of nearly 1,000 square metres of space, they will also have to contribute to affordable housing, which they plan to do in Hawley Crescent. The Ice Wharf scheme also will see first and second floor terraces used for extensions.

Camden Council is currently drawing up plans to look at the area in a wider context, including the Goods Yards behind Stables Market and the plans currently being drawn up for the Morrisons super­market site in Chalk Farm.

Regent’s Canal conservation area advisory committee secretary Tony Richardson said the central area of Camden Town was seen as an asset to be exploited by property owners.

He said: “I think we do need to be wary about any race to the skies. We already have intensification in Camden Lock Market. People objected to the loss of views from the Hampstead Road lock bridge towards the interchange building. We have seen views being lost already. I think if we were to see extra floors added to buildings such as the Ice Wharf, it would be a great pity indeed. Going any higher could be quite damaging.

He added: “We have to be wary of incremental changes, of slowly building upwards. Public opinion needs to be expressed and heard about what is reasonable and what is too much. The name of the game is intensification. The government is keen on this and they think historic areas are brake on the economy.”

Peter Darley, chairman and founder of the Camden Railway Heritage Trust, is carefully monitoring plans by Barratt to build new tower blocks on the site of Morrisons. He said: “We have a battle on our hands. There are attempts to push buildings higher, with the excuse that it is for housing – but we need to be vigilant about how high new builds go, and the effect these developments will have on the conservation areas round them.”

The owners have held a series of meetings with the Town Hall’s planning officers and public meet­ings with the Regent’s Canal conservation area advisory committee to gauge views. In their application, they add the extensions would help provide space for new small businesses and increase job opportunities.

They said: “The proposal seeks to enhance Camden Town by providing space to nurture small businesses and flexible space which is suitable for small businesses which are creative and cultural. It also provides a range of employment opportunities during the day and evening. With the office extensions on the third and fourth floors and the potential to use the fifth floor as offices, it is considered that the proposal could create a significant increase of jobs from the existing scenario, approximately 61. The proposal therefore meets the economic policies contained within national, regional and local policy.”

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