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Backlash over plans for 14-storey tower complex in Chalk Farm

Exhibition shows how Morrisons supermarket site could be transformed

28 April, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

One of the artists’ impressions detailing how the new development will look

PLANS for a 14-storey tower in a new housing and office complex in Chalk Farm have sparked a backlash from conservationists and people living nearby.

The proposals for the Morrisons site in Chalk Farm Road – drawn up by the supermarket and its developer partner Barratt – were unveiled at an exhibition this week. A final planning application for the £600million project is due to be on the desk of Town Hall planners by June. Morrisons is retaining a branch on the site but adding 570 new homes and office space – the largest building project since the redevelopment of Hawley Wharf was approved. Some 35 per cent of the homes will be defined as “affordable”.

But the tower block element has led to scathing criticisms from objectors who say it is too tall for the site and will loom over historic buildings and protected neighbourhoods.

Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee chairman Richard Simpson, who has met with Barratt three times, said: “We found the exhibition deeply disappointing. They are still stuck in the mindset that has nothing at all to do with Camden Town and surrounding areas. Important buildings such as the Interchange and Roundhouse would be totally overwhelmed by the scale and density.”

He added: “The way they have distributed the buildings means they have created some unattractive and potentially dangerous public spaces and it has led them to design some excessively high buildings. They would loom over the neighbouring areas in a daunting fashion.”

Barratt’s head of planning, Martin Scholar, told the New Journal the scheme would put to good use land that is currently being wasted. He said the company’s designs show new public spaces, allotments, a community meeting hall and better access, and added that they would use brick facades to fit in with neighbouring buildings. “It was last developed in the 1980s,” said Mr Scholar. “We have to make the most of brownfield sites.”

Reacting to criticisms of the proposed height of the new tower – other blocks will be up to five storeys high – and citing original plans for a 17-storey block, he added: “It isn’t actually that visible anyway. We have tested this from lots of places and we do not think this is over-development.”

Allies and Morrisons architect Hendrik Hynes, who is working on the project, said: “Currently it is a box sitting in a car park, and is out of character for the environment. It is an out-of-town typology, dating from a time when London’s population was falling. It is isolated by the railway lines, so we have considered how to bring it back into the urban fabric and open it up so people know where it is and use it. It is surrounded by conservation areas and so we have carefully considered the massing.”

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