Published: 13 September, 2012
EXCLUSIVE by DAN CARRIER
The possible future face of Camden Town can be revealed today (Thursday) – and campaigners fighting developers’ plans for a massive new tourist market area say it is a victory for “people power”.
Site owner Stanley Sidings have radically re-drawn a scheme that was thrown out by the Town Hall in March after a ferocious campaign to get the project scrapped.
Now, with a new firm of architects, the proposal has been broadly welcomed.
Covering the Hawley Wharf, which includes the market area devastated by fire in 2008 and garages and workshops behind Hawley Road, the designs include a revamped market area, 170 homes, a school, and an art-house cinema.
The developers say they have spent the past five months listening and made changes to the designs after a series of meetings with the Hawley Wharf Working Group (HWWG), made up of interested societies and associations from Camden Town.
The original plan was rejected because of the design and detail of the market area’s building, the size of planned blocks and a lack of openpace. The HWWG said the new scheme, designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, was a massive improvement and that they would formulate an official response to the scheme in the coming weeks.
HWWG member Peter Darley said: “We have gone a long way to influence the developer, but we do want to influence it further.”
He said that a controversial section of the designs, which was a frontage made up of brick arches alongside the Regent’s Canal, had been massively improved.
Mr Darley added: “We are pleased by the new designs. They no longer dominate the railway viaduct arches. It is much better than what was proposed before. The co-operation between our group and the developers has benefited the scheme so much.”
Lead architect Simon Allford’s designs have reduced the proposed height of terrace of homes along Hawley Road by a storey – it is now four storeys high – and also redesigned the highest residential blocks, which are nine storeys.
He said the brick arches would have timber slats, inspired by classic wharfside buildings, and the market would not dominate the canal.
To stop visitors spilling out on to the canal, brick walls keep the towpath away from the market, and on the first floor there is a new open-air space to attract visitors.
Castlehaven Community Association director Eleanor Botwright, whose centre faces the scheme, acknowledged the improvements but said there were still issues that needed to be resolved. She said: “We want to hear how the development will offer real employment opportunities for people who live in Camden Town, during construction and afterwards.”
Ms Botwright said that she feared the size and scale of the designs for Hawley Road, and the extra people who would come, would affect the green space her community centre has.
She added: “What the developers and council are failing to recognise is the impact the development will have on our space.”
Stanley Sidings managing director Mark Alper said: “We have worked hard over the past five months on an improved design that can respond to the reasons for the refusal of the previous scheme, whilst bringing this under-utilised and neglected site back to life.”
A date is yet to be set for a planning hearing that will decide if the proposals get the go-ahead.