This Thursday, 25th June, 19:00 – 21:00, an online Q&A is being held by the developers of the above monstrosity, along with Camden’s planners.
Camden’s planners have stated that the community’s input at this event is crucial to gauging whether it is acceptable or not.
While the planner and developers appear on a live screen, other participants do not appear on video call and can simply type questions as appropriate.
Support from the community is vital to ensure we quash this development.
The current site is a 1930s Art Deco influenced building, previously used as the King’s Cross Coach Station serving the stations to the north. Entrances and exits to the station punctuated the side elevations, but these were bricked up after the coach station changed use in the 1950s.
It is surrounded by Georgian terraces to the south, west, and east, and directly faces onto the Georgian Argyle Square to the south.
To the immediate west and east on Euston Road lie late further Georgian and Victorian buildings. These are of three to six storeys.
To the north lies one of the most architecturally significant places in London, and certainly in Camden: King’s Cross Square, dominated by the Grade I listed King’s Cross and St Pancras stations.
We believe that the dramatic step up in scale from south to north is a particular feature in the historic landscape. The area to the south of the stations has historically been of a fine urban grain, and three to six storeys in height.
This step up in scale allows the stations to tower over their surroundings, and affords views of the stations from miles around, providing an appropriate setting for these important listed buildings. The only negative contributor to this landscape is the Standard Hotel with its rooftop extension, which competes with St Pancras for height, dwarves neighbouring buildings, and blocks multiple views of St Pancras from Bloomsbury to the south.
The proposal is to entirely demolish the former King’s Cross Coach Station, and to replace it with a part ten part four storey office block, confirmed by the developer as being of the same height as the Standard Hotel.
The scale of the development, as can be seen, is entirely inappropriate and entirely ignorant of the context of the site. Camden’s own draft policy for the site implied development should be of three to six storeys to harmonise with the prevailing development height.
However the developer is instead seeking to imitate the Standard Hotel, and the design is arguably even uglier and invasive.
The developer is attempting to market the development as being some sort of a scientific building and therefore a harbinger of great public benefit. It is well-known that buildings in scientific and health use are often granted ‘blank cheques’ to cause immense harm to heritage, an unfortunate side effect of national planning policy. But the building is actually simply an office block which is apparently only ‘laboratory-enabled’.
This does not mean that it actually has any laboratories. There is also no secured tenant for the block, although the developer is arguing that they are likely to secure a world-leader in the development of ‘life-saving vaccines‘.
It is quite clear however that the development of life-saving vaccines takes place in research institutes, not office blocks on Euston Road.
It is therefore what might be called a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There is a greater examination of the historic context of the site and the so-called public benefits of the development on the BCAAC website. The BCAAC are the advisory committee for all development affecting heritage in Camden’s Central London area, including this area.
What happens next
The Development Management Forum is an excellent opportunity to ensure that community voices are heard. It is an online Q&A where developers are put on the spot. Usually one needs to turn up in person and ask questions in front of an audience. However due to Covid things are much easier – all one needs to do is sign up, and just type questions to be answered.
One must sign up here.
However comprehensive community support is vital to having an impact.
We have also contacted the Georgian Group and the Victorian Society who are taking an interest in the development.
Once the so-called DMF is over, there is a clear path for the developer to put in an application. This is why we need to voice opposition now, rather than later.
Further enquiries can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.