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Non-starter! Edith helps sink canal warehouse plans… for now

Long-running planning row set to continue as latest proposals for Victorian buildings are deferred

26 June, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

The latest proposals for Regent’s Wharf which were put forward this week

LEGENDARY French singer Edith Piaf was invoked as campaigners succeeded in convincing the council to put the brakes on a controversial multimillion-pound redevelopment project on the Regent’s Canal.

Plans to build on Victorian warehouses and office buildings in King’s Cross, known as Regent’s Wharf, were deferred by the planning committee on Tuesday night.

Some 178 objections had been received.

The refusal is the latest chapter in a long-running saga after the original scheme was rejected by the council in 2017 and an appeal to the planning inspectorate by developers Regent’s Wharf Property Unit Trust was also thrown out.

Caledonian ward Labour councillor Sara Hyde spoke at the meeting to represent residents in the nearby Peabody estate in All Saints Street who she said would experience a “detrimental” loss of daylight if the scheme went ahead.

Plans submitted for Regent’s Wharf which were rejected at an appeal

She added: “I know these residents – the ground-floor flats all have people in there who have mobility disabilities. And as a councillor who believes in fairness and equality, we have to fight hard for those residents less able to access it themselves.

“The overall summary states that there would be adverse impacts, some of which would be significant transgressions, and this is regrettable. So I’m going to invite you tonight to be like Edith Piaf, and say ‘Je ne regrette rien’, and regret nothing.”

Five residents from the nearby Ice Wharf also spoke and said that if the council gave the green light it would “set a precedent” for allowing developments that could cut through rules which aim to mitigate residents’ loss of light.

However, the planning inspectorate has already said that the loss of light is not a substantial issue in the scheme and instead spiked the appeal on heritage grounds.

Development director Merrik Baggallay, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: “We have worked with design officers, local residents and Historic England to ensure our proposals preserve and enhance the history of this site and safeguard it for the future.

“By reducing massing by 8.79 metres and removing over 6,500 square feet from the scheme facing Ice Wharf, 83 per cent of windows have experienced an improvement, with the remaining 17 per cent with no change compared to the appeal scheme.”

The committee voted unanimously to defer the plan on the grounds of height and massing issues.

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