CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Development of Hawley Wharf sees a hostile environment

09 September, 2021

Hawley Wharf: ‘please don’t bring a rule-bound fortress to Camden’ 

• FOR what seems like forever (five years or more) the monstrous empty buildings and hoardings of the new complex at Hawley Wharf have been my neighbour, a huge black hole in Camden’s heart.

Finally it is coming to life with bits and pieces opening up. There is huge promise, but I worry it may never be realised.

I have a great deal of sympathy for the developers. The architecture and ambition is bold, and there are some great new cityscapes, for example on the roof of the remaining, gutted Georgian terrace overlooking the market, or the web of bridges connecting the two main buildings. The cinema will hopefully be a great local asset, and I am looking forward to the farmers’ market.

The developers’ plans must have received a hefty setback from Covid-19. However I urge them to think carefully about the management of its expensive new flagship premises, if they are not to become a disliked, draughty Camden carbuncle.

The security presence is intense and intimidating, and every time I go for a curious stroll around the place I am met with stares and bulky guards in intimidating uniforms blocking my way; even when there are no signs saying that this or that area is closed. Gates are locked at mysterious times, sometimes forcing one to retrace one’s steps.

The atmosphere is hostile, even if the guards themselves are bored but generally professional. To be fair, even after all this time, there is still a lot of building going on at various places around the site and maybe things will lighten up when it eventually ends (if it ever does).

Probably a fault of other neighbours (not me), or the council, and not the developers, it looks like a quick pint while admiring the view from the copious terraces and open-sided floors will be out of the question unless one also wants some exotic “street food”.

There will be no shortage of choice there, but not the simple pleasure of a decent beer. I hope I’m wrong. Otherwise I’m sticking to the Hawley.

I’m writing to the CNJ because there’s no apparent way of providing this feedback to the developers themselves. Message to them: good luck and I hope your investment is profitable and vibrant. That would be good for us all.

But please don’t bring a rule-bound fortress to Camden. It doesn’t suit the place, and it will be avoided, at least by locals.

IAIN FLYNN
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