The King’s Cross redevelopment may take up to twenty years to complete. Camden has published “King’s Cross; Camden’s Vision” (June 2002). It consists of forewords by the Leaders of both Camden and Islington councils, which states their desire “to achieve the best possible future for King’s Cross…We aim to get the best out of the many employment, housing, education and leisure opportunities. The approach must be ambitious. We want to make King’s Cross stronger, healthier, safer, more economically successful and very sustainable, with excellent services. Successful development will be well balanced and completed in good time”.
This means development that has:
-International importance and contributes to London as a world city
-A rich mix of architectural styles that combine high quality design with lively, safe and attractive street scenes and public open spaces. It is essential that community safety problems are ‘designed out’ to project a very positive image for the area
-Respect for the Victorian heritage by understanding the area’s essential character and adapting the distinctive buildings and structures into an outstanding modern development
-Easy and safe routes through King’s Cross Central, reducing traffic to a minimum, opening up and sign-posting links across the site and sustainable ways of working from the initial design, through the construction period, making sure the development will respect the environment for many years to come
-New jobs should be widely available
The development of King’s Cross is expected to contribute to long established objectives for London, maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of business, maximizing housing provision to meet changing needs, encouraging a pattern of land uses and transport which minimizes harm to the environment. Achieving this involves incorporating sustainable design principles, maintaining and improving the natural and open environment, promoting urban regeneration, while not harming the vitality & viability of town and other centers. The King’s Cross Central development by its location and scale represents therefore an opportunity to make a very significant contribution to London. At the same time, for the development to be sustainable locally, it must address real local needs and achieve genuine integration with its locality and the communities who live there.
Local development frameworks
Is a spatial planning strategy introduced in England by the planning and compulsory purchase Act 2004. Maintaining the framework is the responsibility of the council.
The previous system was perceived as being too inflexible and difficult to change in a timely manner. The local development framework system is intended to improve this situation by replacing the old plans with a new portfolio of local development documents that can be tailored to suit the different needs of a particular area and can be easily updated. Camden’s Core strategy is the central part of the local development framework. The Core Strategy will, along with other Local Development Framework documents, replace the current Unitary Development Plan (2006).
Immediately adjoining the King’s Cross Central site is the ‘Triangle’ site, which lies within both Camden and Islington. An outline planning permission and associated legal agreement were granted in 2008 for a mixed use development including:
-246 residential units, 84 being affordable
-Retail, food, drink, financial & health facilities
-Community facilities (health and fitness and crèche)
-Environmental improvements (i.e. highway improvements, amenity and open space, and habitat areas).
The Council’s aspiration for King’s Cross is to secure a vibrant, attractive, safe destination with a mix of uses, in particular offices, homes, retail, leisure and community facilities, which:
-Supports and increases the borough’s contribution to London’s role as a world business, commercial and cultural center;
-Integrates with surrounding areas and communities, economically, socially and physically;
-Creates job and training opportunities for local people and contributes significantly to the Regeneration of neighboring communities;
-Helps to meet the full range of housing, education, social and healthcare needs in Camden and beyond;
-Maximizes opportunities for walking, cycling and the use of public transport, to and through the area;
-Improves community safety and reduces opportunities for crime and anti-social behavior;
-Protects and enhances features of historic and conservation importance;
-Meets the highest feasible environmental standards.
Images of what King’s Cross will be soon;
The triangular block between Gray’s Inn Road, Pentonville Road and King’s Cross Bridge is dominated by the ‘lighthouse building’. It is listed grade II and dates to c1875, built on a former railway construction site. This block has a triangular plan with a rounded apex and is mostly four-storeys in height, plus an attic mansard level. It is constructed of London stock brick with stucco dressings and has a deep projecting cornice below the mansard level. Decorated arched dormer windows are set within the mansard roof. The building’s apex is surmounted by a tall ‘lighthouse’ tower, which is clad in metal sheeting, surrounded by a cast iron balcony and capped by a small dome and weather vane. The tower serves as an important local landmark.
-Gray’s Inn Road:
Nos. 311 to 345 Gray’s Inn Road form a consistent four-storey terrace of early 19th century date, with largely unadorned façades and retail units at ground floor level. The terraced properties are variously constructed of stock brick and dark brown brick, although the western section of the group, nos. 323-345, have white painted façades. Nos. 313-333 have blind recessed arches around the first floor windows. Nos. 335-337 have greater decoration on their front elevations, with giant order pilasters at 1st and 2nd floor levels and decorated window surrounds. The Gray’s Inn Road elevation to nos. 319 and 321, situated in the center of the group, includes a painted sign reading ‘Scales, Weights and Weighing Machines’.
–The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital is located at no. 330 Gray’s Inn Road. The main, three- storey hospital building is in a Classical style with a rusticated stone façade at first and second floor levels with timber sash windows, a prominent modeled cornice and balustrade above and tiled signage below the cornice. The building projects beyond the main frontage at ground floor and this element is of 1960s design and date. It is painted white and incorporates signage within a Portland stone panel and has metal-framed windows.
The Scala, which occupies the entire eastern side of King’s Cross Bridge is a prominent white-painted former cinema building, which is three storeys in height with a small dome at the northern end. The building has a stucco façade with rusticated treatment at ground and first floor level and large columns above. Circular windows are set within the façade at first floor level and narrow vertical windows are included in the floors above. Smaller circular windows are set within the dome at the northern end of the King’s Cross Bridge façade. Like the nearby ‘lighthouse tower’ the dome serves as a local landmark and is visible in views westwards along Pentonville Road.
Field Street is situated to the south of St Chad’s Place, and is a short street which formerly connected King’s Cross Road to Wicklow Street but is now bisected by the railway cutting. On the north side are two and three-storey buildings of late 19th/early 20th century date and which abut the cutting. They are currently in light industrial use. On the south side of the street is an early 20th century single storey building with large metal-framed windows. The former junction with Wicklow Street is currently marked by a short stretch of road at the eastern end of Field Street, which is lined with a tall wire fence that detracts from the streetscene. Both ends of the street are surfaced in granite setts, which has been unsympathetically repaired in many places with modern materials.
Leeke Street is also a narrow enclosed street surface in granite setts, which connects King’s Cross Road and Wicklow Street. To the west of the railway cutting, Leeke Street is fronted by the flank elevations to nos. 40-44 and 46-52 Wicklow Street to the north and south respectively. The former building is a recently renovated former industrial building constructed of stock brick, highly characteristic of this area, but which has had modern windows in untraditional materials and design and a tall, unsympathetic mansard roof added which detract from the character and appearance of the building. Conversely, nos. 46-52 Wicklow Street, which contains the entrance to “Smithy’s Bar”, represents a successfully renovated former industrial building of end of 19th century date. The two-storey property is constructed of London stock brick with red brick banding and lintels. The building has a contemporary entrance and retains original steel framed windows. To the east of the building at nos. 46-52 Wicklow Street, the Leeke Street bridge over the railway cutting is lined with traditional stock brick walls.
Materials and maintenance:
In all cases, existing/original architectural features and detailing characteristic of the Conservation Area should be retained and kept in good repair, and only be replaced when there is no alternative, or to enhance the appearance of the building through the restoration of missing features. Where retained significantly, original detailing including decorative iron balconies, stucco banding and cornicing, door and window surrounds, timber shop front façades, timber-framed sliding sash windows and doors add to the visual interest of properties as well as the street. Where removed in the past, replacement with suitable copies, based on evidence of previous appearance, will be encouraged. Original, traditional materials should be retained wherever possible and repaired if necessary.
Materials should be appropriate to the locality and sympathetic to the existing buildings. The choice of materials in new work will be an important part. Generally routine or regular maintenance such as unblocking of gutters and rainwater pipes, the repair of damaged pointing and stucco, and the painting and repair of wood and metal work will prolong the life of a building and prevent unnecessary decay and damage. Where replacement is the only possible option, materials should be chosen to closely match the original.
Carefully detailed brick facades are most important to the existing character. Original brickwork should not be painted, rendered or clad unless this was the original treatment. Such work can have an unfortunate and undesirable effect on the appearance of the building and Conservation Area and may lead to long-term structural and decorative damage, and may be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to reverse once completed. Re-pointing of brickwork should only be undertaken in exception circumstances owing to the risk of damage to the bricks and hence the appearance of the building. Re-pointing if done badly can also drastically alter the appearance of a building, and may be difficult to reverse.
Cleaning should only be undertaken using non-abrasive removal of the protective face of the material, as such methods leave the brick skin much more vulnerable to erosion by the weather. The cleaning of stone or brickwork using large quantities of water can lead to problems of water penetration.
King’s cross Heritage:
King’s cross has a very rich history and heritage. This rich industrial heritage is both respected and reused at King’s Cross. More than 20 historic buildings and structures are being creatively refurbished and given new uses. This has led to King’s Cross being named as “One of England’s 20 Best Heritage-Led Developments” by English Heritage. Here are some of them;
-Kings Cross Station:
Then: King’s Cross Station was built as the London hub of the Great Northern Railway. The first temporary passenger station opened in 1850 in the Midland Goods Shed. Among the passengers was Queen Victoria who left for Scotland from here in 1851. The plans for the station in its current location were first made in 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull. Turnbull engineered the construction of the first 20 miles of the Great Northern Railway out of London. The detailed design was by architect Lewis Cubitt and the station opened with two platforms in 1852.
And now: King’s Cross Station is being transformed with new entrances, more space and better facilities. Work started in 2007. The stunning new departures concourse is now open, and the original Victorian entrance will be restored in 2013. New underground ticket halls, new escalators and more than 300 metres of new passageways mean changing between the different lines and services is much easier.
-St Pancras Station and Midland Grand Hotel:
Then: St Pancras Station was built in 1866-8 as the London terminal of the Midland Railway. William Barlow designed and engineered the train shed and at the time was the largest single-span structure ever built. The Midland Grand Hotel (now St Pancras Renaissance) was constructed across the front of the station and completed in 1873. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, it was the last and most extravagant of the great railway hotels.
And now: St Pancras International is now home to the Eurostar. An £850 million investment by London & Continental Railways has re-established St Pancras as a major transport hub. The Midland Grand has been restored by Manhattan Loft Corporation and is now the five star St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
Section 106 Agreement:
The King’s Cross redevelopment takes its next step forward after Camden Council approved the final legal terms that secure a wide range of community benefits. The council’s Development Control Committee made the grant of the planning permissions for the regeneration of the 64 and a half acre King’s Cross brown field site. It approved the full details of the Section 106 Agreement, the document that sets out the legal obligations between the council, developer, landowners and other parties. The council originally resolved to grant planning permission on 9 March 2006 and agreed the key points of the Section 106 Agreement.
Cllr Dawn Somper, Chair of Camden Council’s Development Control Committee, said:
“After careful consideration, the Committee has approved the final details of the Section 106 legal agreement and made the final grant of the necessary planning permissions and consents. The redevelopment of the King’s Cross site is set to deliver an excellent package of benefits for local people, the local area and London as a whole.”
The community benefits will include:
- Jobs: creation of an estimated 24 -27,000 jobs
- Homes: a total of 1,700 new homes
- Community, sports and leisure facilities
- Three new green public spaces, plus new landscaped squares and well-designed and accessible streets, forming almost 40 per cent of the site
The legal agreement also includes:
- The protection and enhancement of the area’s unique architectural heritage, including restoring major landmark buildings.
- Environmentally sustainable considerations such as a public bicycle interchange and storage spaces; commitments to carbon savings including energy efficient building design and use of renewable energy, with scope for using wind turbines, solar panels and intelligent lighting.