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Neighbours split over housing block bid for ‘eyesore’ car wash site

Groups have contrasting opinions over facelift which could change NW5 skyline

08 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley

COUNCILLORS will have to ignore the advice of the Town Hall’s own planning department if they are to block a major new development set to change the face, and skyline, of Kentish Town.

A triangular car wash site in Kentish Town Road close to the tube station has been lined up for a new six-storey complex. But while council officials have recommended that the scheme be approved at a meeting tonight (Thursday), the proposals have not secured universal support in the area.

Critics say the plans are too big and do not include enough affordable housing.

The new block will have 14 new flats and a restaurant or retail unit on the ground floor.

The large sky-blue ‘Welcome To Kentish Town’ graffiti will be hidden. A bundle of responses to the application by the KTR Car Wash Project have been filed at the Town Hall, revealing the contrasting opinions.

Campaign group Kentish Town Road Action said the site was in a key location, adding in its statement: “A landmark building should be beautifully designed and in keeping with its surroundings. This cannot be said of this proposal.”

The Bartholomew estate and Kentish Town conservation area advisory committee said: “We consider it is at least two stories too high and in style and height totally out of keeping with the surrounding buildings.”

It added: “Indeed as proposed it would be a complete eyesore. For a commercial building it is very ordinary not in the least distinguished and contributes nothing and does not enhance the area.”

But the plans have won the support of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum, which had earmarked the site as being in need of a revamp.

Architects had come up with “an excellent solution despite so many difficult limitations,” it said in a submission to planners, adding: “We would not wish to see this application fall at the current time when it is probable that any refusal would result not only in the loss of this particular proposal but also an extremely long delay before any alternative solution for the site emerges.”

A report circulated by planners to councillors on the committee said: “The proposals display a considered and creative design response to this site, regarded as an eyesore by the community. The development shows generosity to the public realm, and would help to activate and enhance this part of the town centre.”

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