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New cinema to be kitted out at Hawley Wharf

New Journal takes a look at canalside development ahead of grand opening later this year

15 April, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Walkways at the Hawley Wharf development

STEPPING beneath Camden Town, a huge cavern, four storeys deep, has been carved into the earth. Sitting on its vast concrete pillars is a nine-storey housing block – and it is here that a new cinema for Camden Town is being built.

The massive empty space is set to be kitted out with two to three cinema screens, designed around these huge soaring pillars.

The owners, Lab Tech, are currently in advanced talks with a large cinema operator and, as an exclusive tour for the New Journal this week revealed, it is one of the last pieces of a 10-year jigsaw to fall into place.

The Hawley Wharf site is on land once occupied by a former market, which was burned to the ground during the huge fire of 2008.

Lab Tech then set up temporary huts for traders while they bought up surrounding land and spent years planning what they could place there.

It runs between the Regent’s Canal and Hawley Road, a triangular site that has made various demands on the architects and created opportunities to acknowledge the area’s industrial heritage but also add a 21st-century aesthetic.

With the main structures now in place, and interior fit-outs beginning, it is possible to get a feel for how the new Hawley Market will be.

Work continues on the development and Lab Tech’s Henry Mace and Will Rimell

The main market area is both open and enclosed – four storeys are now on the space that was once the rambling and makeshift market stalls – while under cover, it is also open on both sides, offering grandstand views of Camden Town, the canal and the railway. Walkways take people across the site, and a roof terrace gives a 360-degree vista of London.

It includes a benches dotted among the chimney pots of a Victorian terrace, once attached to the Carnarvon Castle pub in Camden High Street. It is surely set to be a photo destination for the Instagram generation.

Lab Tech design director Henry Mace has been working on the project for three years and has watched this element take shape. But the first part of the job was to deliver a new primary school, which cost £6million.

Cinema: coming soon

He said: “We are really proud of the school as a company and it really helped pull the scheme together.” Another part of their planning deal with the Town Hall is to provide around 20 new affordable homes, and a deal to find a social housing provider is currently underway.

The project is set to provide approximately 1,000 new jobs in 60 new food outlets and 150 new stores and stalls. And the designers believe they have people celebrated something unique about Camden Town.

Mr Mace added: “The scheme has been designed around the railway arches and the canal, and there are two key new public spaces.” The 60 food outlets planned have been placed away from the canal to counter historic issues with people eating food and then creating a huge mess on the towpath.

Lab Tech development director Will Rimell added: “We have been visiting place like Brixton and Borough Market, meeting businesses who do not have a presence in Camden and are small independents who might want to set up a second outlet in a new location.”

An open day is set to be held next week and Lab Tech say they will be looking to hear from people with business ideas that might need a little help to turn them into reality.

The Kentish Town Road side of the development and, below, the view from the roof

Mr Rimell said: “It is about finding entrepreneurs, independents and artisans. We want to help people be successful. That means turnover-based rents and flexible leases and kitchen fit-outs. We want Hawley Wharf to help people, with brilliant ideas bring them to life.”

The Hawley Wharf Action Group, made up of residents, councillors and members of civic groups, helped shape the scheme.

And one of the biggest challenges discussed time and again at their meetings was how this new market space could attract people living nearby.

Mr Rimell said: “It is in our planning agreement. That means a local produce market – your butchers and bakers – for NW1 to use. We recognise this space needs to be clearly different from the rest of the market in Camden Town.”

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