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Vision for wharf site not ‘future proof’

Housing association’s plan for new homes lacks adequate access to canal say campaign group

16 March, 2016 — By Dan Carrier

A CANALSIDE site built for freight use has been earmarked for a new housing estate – prompting campaigners to warn that the designs are ignoring the land’s traditional use. Chalk Farm-based housing association One Housing have submitted plans to build a six-storey tower on Bangor Wharf, Camden Town, for a mix of private and affordable housing. Campaign group Friends of Regent’s Canal say the scheme should include better access to the water’s edge, as part of a ground floor commercial space already planned. They say with canal use soaring and the need to get heavy goods vehicles off roads, building such a facility would “future proof” the design. The project includes 46 new homes, of which 33 will be sold privately, with nine socially rented and four rented with the tenants contributing to a mortgage scheme that means they will eventually own the property outright. Friends of Regent’s Canal chairman Ian Shacklock said that Bangor Wharf was one of a handful of sites left in London’s canal network to be redeveloped and the designs should reflect the changing use of the canal, allowing freight to be loaded and unloaded once more as the city switches away from road transport. “We are losing these access points at a drastic rate,” he said. “Quaysides are being lost all the time. We are not saying there should be a fully blown warehouse or depot, but there is nothing in the plan to recognise the importance of this site and what it could used for in the future.” He added that while the block itself was too large and would overshadow the canal, wrecking historic views, One Housing could still change the ground floor. “What is being proposed on the ground floor will be suited to an office,” he added. “We want them to look at how they could make the ground floor relevant to the resource of the canal. Instead, they are just plonking a commercial space on there. In five years’ time we are likely to have a real demand for waterborne freight. If they build this as it is now, it will cut out the option of using the wharf for its original purpose again.” The canal, built in 1816, was used for freight and for many years Bangor Wharf had brought coal and other fuels into the area. In 1914 it was taken on by St Pancras Borough Council and was used for removing rubbish. It suffered from bomb damage during the war, and in the 1960s the London Electricity Board used the site as a depot and for workshops. More recently, French energy providers EDF owned the land. Mr Shacklock also criticised the aesthetics of the building. He said: “It is all wrong – there is just 1.5 metres gap from the building to the water’s edge, and this cuts down access. “They are also talking about it as a publicly accessible ‘precinct’. It will be absolutely deserted. The building is too high – at the moment, as you come round the corner on the canal, it really opens up. Instead there will be a huge, looming block.” A One Housing spokesman said: “This proposal could bring a brownfield site into new use as much-needed housing. We are still in discussion with planners regarding the scheme.”

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