The independent London newspaper

Do they want to win the architectural ‘Carbuncle of the Year’ award?

26 February, 2021

• UNDER proposed planning reforms, the housing secretary says “all new developments must meet local standards of beauty, quality and design”.

Why then have Camden’s planning officers recommended approval for a hideous 10-storey tower across from King’s Cross station and adjacent to the Georgian gem of Argyle Square?

There are four good reasons for Camden to reject this application.

First, after trying to redevelop the site for many years, the developer has hidden behind Covid to ensure that no citizen participation took place over this application.

Second, the proposed building is too high and out-of-scale for its nearby historic cityscape, including the recently-preserved Regency terrace immediately east of the site.

Third, the building does not reflect the high-quality urban design of the nearby “Lighthouse Building” and extensive “Regent’s Quarter”.

Finally, in the current market, yet another speculative office development does not contribute to the environment of Kings Cross, particularly one designed in the discredited 1970s “brutalist style”.

A sustainable approach would have seen, as with the Town Hall Annexe conversion, retention of the existing 1930s “stripped classical building” with a modest number of additional floors.

The only advantage to approving this application is that it ensures that Camden will be awarded “Carbuncle of the Year” honours in the near future, and tourists will flock to see “London’s ugliest building”.

Retired Professor of the Built Environment


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