IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Concerns over UCL’s designs on the Eastman Dental Hospital site

29 November, 2018

The Eastman (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

• UNIVERSITY College London is currently consulting on its proposed design for the site of the former Eastman Dental Hospital (EDH) in Gray’s Inn Road.

UCL bought the site earlier this year where it wishes to build its £250million headquarters for the UK’s Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI). It intends to seek planning permission next spring.

According to UCL: “Our proposals are still in their early stages… we want to understand what is important to you and ensure you play a part in shaping the plans”; responses to recent public consultations will “inform design development”.

These can be submitted until the end of December before an “updated proposal” goes out for further public consultation in January. We would urge all who will be affected to make their views known.

The site lies within the Mount Pleasant Forum area, and details of the design proposals can be found on the following link: http://www.mountpleasantforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ucl_boards_V4FINALcompressed260918.pdf

The New Calthorpe Estate is immediately adjacent to the site, and the residents, of which I am one, have serious concerns about the physical impact of the scheme on their homes.

Already partly over-shadowed by a UCL student accommodation block, about which we were never consulted, we are deeply alarmed at the scale, massing, and loss of light, loss of privacy and sense of enclosure which would result from the latest proposals.

We have noted with some poignancy that the scheme is in fact made up of three parts – the most publicly talked about being the centre for dementia research.

However this will only occupy just over 50 per cent of the square metreage, the reinstatement of the EDH will occupy over 10 per cent of the space but 30 per cent of the site is to be dedicated to UCL student academic facilities.

This point is mentioned very briefly in information provided and is somewhat hidden in the noble facts about the dementia centre and the heritage of the site.

Reduce or remove these student facilities and the need for such height and massing can also reduce so as not to impact so negatively on our community amenity.

Our concern is not just about how the physical buildings will affect us in the short term but also the longer term negative implications for our community. We seem to be at the sharp end of the UCL business strategy and we are not happy about it.

The chair and provost of UCL told the Financial Times earlier this year: “We are in a very competitive market place for students and high quality staff, and facilities in the [UCL] estate [are] important.”

The living conditions on our estate are also important and we will fight to ensure proposals respect this.

JULIE RILEY
Fleet Square, WC1

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