Proposed view from Chalk Farm Road. ‘Still the wrong building in the wrong place,’ according to one critic
Published: 29 November, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
AN ‘anti-tourist’ wall should be built along the length of the Regent’s Canal towpath near Camden Lock to stop market owners exploiting a green public space, a leading conservation body claims.
Councillors on the Town Hall’s planning committee will decide tonight (Thursday) whether to grant permission for a £300million development at Hawley Wharf, which would include about 300 homes, a new primary school, a cinema and a five-storey market and restaurant complex.
As councillors weigh up the merits of the scheme – the second attempt to redevelop the area devastated by the “Camden Fire” in 2008 – conservation groups have said the new designs should be dismissed.
Del Brenner, of canal conservation body the Regent’s Network, has presented the Town Hall with a raft of reasons why the plans should be redrawn. He wants a wall to be built to separate the canal from a proposed, five-storey, market-style mall.
Mr Brenner said: “The redesigned frontage of the canalside buildings is an improvement on the previous application, which received the derision it deserved. However, things are still far from satisfactory.
“It is large, bulky and has a distinctly negative effect on the calm and openness of the canal.
"It is still the wrong building in the wrong place. If the development is allowed to go ahead then visitors will be confronted with a huge multi-storey market.
“It has been said time and again that there is more than enough market space. The last thing people want to have to bear is much more of the same.”
He attacked developers for exploiting the canal, saying that for four years they have allowed the towpath to become an extension to markets that are trading illegally as they do not have planning permission.
But the project has supporters among influential conservation groups. English Heritage backs the bid, saying “the designs have undergone significant revision and now better reflect the character of the Regent’s Canal”.
Others supporting the scheme include Transport for London, business group Camden Town Unlimited, the Design Council and Hawley Wharf Working Group, made up of Camden Town civic societies.
Developers Stanley Sidings managing director Mark Alper said they had taken into account the reasons the previous application was turned down in March.
He told the New Journal: “We brought in new architects and developed proposals. After seven months of refinement and consultation, these proposals are now endorsed by statutory planning consultees and Hawley Wharf Working Group, who objected to the previous scheme.
“One of the most important considerations in the redesign has been the impact on the Regent’s Canal in order to preserve and enhance the appearance of the canal.
“During our extensive consultation we have heard different views on the extent of openness that should be achieved between the proposed new market and the canal towpath.
"Some believe to protect the canal it should be inaccessible to the public while others believe it should be completely open.
"The revised proposals strike a successful balance. We hope we will now be given the opportunity to bring forward this regeneration for the town centre.”
But others say the scheme has struck poor compromises that will affect Camden Town for decades to come.
Hawley Wharf Action Group, made up of residents, says the plans are too big, decimate small businesses and will bring too many people to already crowded streets.
Camden Town Conservation Area Advisory Committee, which also objects, said the designs were more in keeping with “an out-of-town shopping centre”, while South Kentish Town Conservation Area Advisory Committee wants a Georgian terrace in Hawley Road saved.
The Victorian Society, the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society and Jeffreys Street Association have also objected.