Warehouse plans ‘will create canyon canal’
Residents and conservation groups oppose developer’s bid to build roof extensions on Victorian buildings
25 August, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
The Regent’s Wharf canalside warehouses
PLANS to redevelop Victorian warehouses will turn Regent’s Canal near King’s Cross into a “canyon”, campaigners have warned.
Developer West End of London Property Unit Trust (WELPUT), which has a real estate portfolio worth £1.2billion, wants to demolish some of the site’s non-historic buildings, and put up a six-storey office building in their place.
They also want to build roof extensions of one and two storeys at Victorian warehouses.
Surrounding residents and conservation groups, including the Islington Society and Islington History and Archaeology Society, oppose the plans.
James Dunnett, who is an architect and a member of the Islington Society, said: “The canal is already quite narrow. If you do this [add height to buildings], you end up with a canal that feels like a canyon. There’s got to be some relationship between the height [of buildings] and the width [of the canal].
“It seems like they’re trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot. I think the scale is already big enough as it is.”
How the warehouses would look with extensions
The Friends of Regent’s Canal has objected to the plans, opposing the scale of the development and the developer’s refusal to consider using the canal to take away building waste, said group chairman Ian Shacklock.
Mr Shacklock pointed out that for the construction of nearby Kings Place, the arts venue and office block housing The Guardian newspaper, barges delivered materials and removed waste.
“They are refusing to use the canal to take the waste away,” he said.
“It’s 100 yards from Kings Place. That was built from the canal upwards and proved it could be done.
“We don’t need thousands more lorries to bombard the surrounding streets. The canal is environmentally friendly – it’s almost invisible. It would also create an investment for the canal.
“We’ve been trying for years to change [developers’] mindsets. Even if [councillors] vote for this, there has to be a condition where you have to look into using the water. Do the canal a favour and take strain off the road.”
Mr Shacklock added: “They’re giving absolutely nothing to the canal. They’re overshadowing, raising the heights of the roof, plunging the canal and neighbouring houses in darkness. It turns it into a canyon. It becomes claustrophobic.”
Earlier this year, conservationists warned that plans for Regent’s Wharf will “destroy for ever” the historic character of the buildings.
The application will come before Islington Council’s planning committee on September 7.
WELPUT did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.