Major Balfe Street-Cally Road development for Institute of Physics at planning cttee 5 Feb

cally facadeOne for the diary – the big development proposed by the Institute of Physics for Balfe Street and the Cally Road goes to planning committee on Thursday 5 February at 1900 in the Town Hall on Upper St.  Anyone can attend.  To bag a speaking slot speak you have to email

IoP have made some changes to their plans – notably removing the awful saw tooth factory North light roof design for the Cally side.  But the building remains very big for it’s plot, busts through roof height and other guidelines in the conservation area and looms over the bottom of the Cally Road stealing loads of light from people in excess of guidelines.  If the council grant this then in my view, they won’t be able to stop all other roof lines rising in the conservation area and we’ll see a forest of this sort of thing.

Here’s the latest proposal for the Cally elevation


cally elevation revised

and here is the previous design

cally elevation original

The roof is no longer saw toothed but is still vastly higher than the conservation area rooflines.

From the communal garden for the properties behind the site the view is still pretty awful and will comprise loads of people behind glass staring at the garden and people in it, as this section shows.

communal garden


And the Victorian warehouse/factory on Balfe street is still badly brutalised  with banal steel and glass.  The Institute of Physics anticipates 216,000 new visitors per year about 850 per working day – so I guess that there won’t be anywhere to park your bike in the vicinity any more.

It isn’t too late to comment even outside the deadline – in practice Islington accepts comments right up until the meeting you can do so by emailing and quoting the application number  P2014/3577/FUL.

You can find these and more drawings on the council’s site if you search  P2014/3577/FUL or ‘Balfe Street’ in their planning applications search thing.  Drawings here are copyright the architect etc I am using them here on a fair use basis.



Posted in Big developments, Planning, Licensing and Regulation | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Shadow Attorney General, human rights barrister and Kings Cross MP resigns after taking the mickey out of someone’s house

In a moment of high bathos this evening Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South was apparently sacked from her front bench role, for which she was highly qualified after tweeting a photo of a builders house in Kent extensively draped in St George flags, a phenomenon that apparently she hadn’t seen before.

I am at loss for words at so many levels.

Posted in New | 7 Comments

Wonderful, rather moving map of Islington’s dead from WWI – ‘the streets they left behind’ #WW1

Islington Council has produced a touching digital memorial to the boroughs first world war dead in a map of the houses to which 9,400 people did not return.  Have a look – it’s rather poignant to see the name and description of someone who died who would have been your neighbour in some form 100 years ago.   It literally brings it home from the war memorial on Upper St.  There’s a good write up of it on the council website.

‘The STLB project draws upon the database created for the Islington Book of Remembrance, which accumulated the names for all casualties of conflict (military and civilian) from the 20th century up to the 1950s. This is where we are gathering memories about these people and media such as images of them and their families.

The STLB focuses just upon the First World War casualties and locates them on an interactive map by their last known address. The poppies which mark each man are scattered around the world, because we have collected information about all casualties with an Islington connection.’

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Posted in Community stuff, Kings Cross local history | Tagged | 1 Comment

Cemex in Kings Cross must be prosecuted @cemex_uk

noisy Cemex plant Rufford StreetCemex a colossal Mexican concrete company bought UK conrete-ier Readymix and the knackered old concrete plant sandwiched between Randalls Road, Rufford Street and the railway.  They have a long history of incredibly noisy, in my view illegal behaviour.  We have been covering their mis-demeanours on this site since 2006, most recently last year.  And now they are at it again.  Local resident Stuart (a lawyer) copies me his Saturday email to Cemex:

The noise coming from the site today is unbearable. I cannot hear myself think and I cannot concentrate on work I have to do following a 50 hour working week.

You have been carrying out the activity I have complained about before whereby a man with a mallet bashes the cement mixers presumably to remove concrete as part of a cleaning process. This is primitive and unbearably noisy. Since 0925 this morning this has been non-stop (3 hours and counting). It is a Saturday. The noise far exceeds any other construction noise that would be tolerated in a residential area.

When they are battering away like this it is a like a huge atonal church bell echoing through the neighbourhood.

Cemex in 2006/7 was investigated by Islington’s environmental health team after local people (including me) had made a number of complaints – here’s a letter from Islington to Cemex  (karas to cemex).  In my view Cemex are committing what is known as ‘statutory nuisance‘ – basically when a business repeatedly interferes with people’s right to quite enjoyment of their property.  The way statutory nuisance works, it is for the council to prosecute nuisance makers.  In 2006/7 to stave off possible prosecution Cemex agreed a noise management plan which you can see here: cemex noise management plan.

Over the years many complaints have been made in different ways and local people have tried to work with them.   Cemex though in a modern environmentally friendly guise have a management pattern which seems to be to let things slip until complaints get to a high level, then correct things and let them slip again over the following months and years.   Given the amount of construction in London and in the immediate area this must be a lucrative plant with aged most-likely written off facilities having money wrung out of them – the community should look at whether this is an appropriate site for a plant any more and whether a high enough price is being charged for its environmental impact.

Way, way back in the 1960s the application to build a concrete plant here was turned down twice by the council largely on noise grounds who were then over-ruled by the planning inspector – his report RMC Rufford St, Inspector, 1961  The area then was just as built up in a different way -there were buildings where the park now is and 1-2 Rufford Street now flats was a warehouse.  Anyone living there would have known that there was a concrete plant when moving in, but would have assumed reasonably that it abided by the law and did not commit nuisance.

As well as noise, every day Cemex receives many lorry loads of material to make concrete and lorries leave carrying concrete.  These gouge huge holes in the road where 30 tonne trucks make a very tight turn grinding out several huge potholes.   The holes are probably the biggest in Islington – you could raise a carp in one.  On a basic health and safety level these are huge vehicles making a reverse turn across a pavement with no banksman.  This would not be allowed on a building site.

Posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc, New, Noise, Noisy CEMEX concrete plant Rufford Street | Tagged | 1 Comment

Kings Cross broadcasts through time – courtesy of the #BBCgenome

BBC-LogoThe wonderful archive team at the BBC have put almost the entire contents of the Radio Times from 1923-2009 online in a project known as the BBC genome.  It’s a glorious resource you could get lost in for hours.  A quick search there for Kings Cross (and below for King’s Cross the BBC are apostrophe pedants) amid all the railway stuff provides some absolute gems from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Here’s a tantalising glimpse of a John Mortimer Play ‘Kings Cross Lunch Hour’

‘A play written in 1960, the TV adaptation became part of Thirty Minute Theatre twelve years later. John Mortimer’s style is much more spare here, when what’s not said is more significant than what is.

Joss Ackland and Pauline Collins play management and office girl on a lunch break in a seedy hotel in Kings Cross, run by Lila Kaye (a natural barmaid if there ever was one). They’re just there for an assignation – but Ackland’s dug a big hole for himself trying to invent a back story for why they’re there.

Collins is the perfect flighty girl from the typing pool – fake furs, giggles, and all. Ackland plays the repressed and frustrated boss perfectly, the glances at his watch showing agitation as everything conspires against the two of them being alone.

Dialogue-wise, this is a complex play but a successful one. In a short running time, we sympathise and empathise with the characters and get involved in their little story. And Kaye provides marvellous support, bristling behind her starchy outfit.’

According to Didi-5 at IMDB.  This was one of the ‘Thirty Minute Theatre’ productions

But if you search for King’s Cross (the BBC are apostrophe pedants it would seem – perhaps an apostrophe is more RP?) then you get a different view of the archive.

The piece I desperately want to hear is from 1933

A burlesque by the King’s Cross (London) Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society from King’s Cross Welsh Tabernacle Chapel, London
Lord Mayor…….The Rev. Elfed Lewis Principal Guest…….Lady Shan Teify
(Miss Janet Evans )
Master of Ceremonies
Sir Hurstwood Harries
(H. 0. Harries)

A burlesque by a Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society – fabulous

And this one from 1925 seems absolutely bonkers – Children’s Corner by a Welsh Druid from the Welsh Tabernacle in Kings Cross at the Piccadilly Hotel, which in those days of course had it’s own orchestra (for more on the Tabernacle search for it on this long British History page about Pentonville Road – fabulous to see the BBC broadcasting in Welsh in the 1920s and this interview in Kings Cross Voices)

2LO London, 1 March 1925 17.00

S.B. to all Stations.
Welsh Service.
Conducted by the ARCH-DRUID Helnyed from the Welsh Tabernacle, King’s Cross, London. S.B. to other Stations.
Relayed from
The Piccadilly Hotel, London.
S.B. to other Stations.

And there is even a Goon Show 

‘Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan in ‘ Foiled by President Fred ‘
Two poverty-stricken foreign devils, Sefior Grytpype-thynne and Count Moriarty, skint to the wide, are one day watching TV in their chicken-run in a King’s Cross back alley when Neddie Seagoon arrives to empty the gas meter.’

And a reminder that Roland Rat’s ratcave was under Kings Cross Station

Live from the Ratcave studios underneath King’s Cross station it’s the international megastar with another scintillating show.
A strange pet arrives for Little Reggie and joins the other bunch of hangers-on in the Ratcave, thus assuring itself of fame and fortune for the rest of its life. But who is this strange pet? Professor Stanley Unwin and Margaret Thatcher are among the lucky guests in the programme that refreshes the parts other shows cannot reach.

The Radio Times is of course merely the data that tells us about the programmes (what the geeks call ‘metadata’).  Now if only the archive itself was online, we could replay these broadcasts to the modern Kings Cross community and connect them with their past, in situ.

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Community stuff, Film | Tagged , | 1 Comment

North or South?

The Guardian seems to love Kings Cross. Based on the North-Eastern side, they must be happy.  Long gone are the echoes that once it was the building it occupies, Kings Place that was once called a construction monster by many locals, set along the old Kings Cross boat harbour. But now with so many other high rise buildings you would not notice.  Kings Place seems to blend in with all the rest.

What impression you get from Kings Cross very much depends which exit you choose.  We compare the two furthest Southern and Northern exist of Kings Cross / St. Pancras and wonder if the difference is symbolic?

Take a look:

2014-10-14 10.18.00

Most Northern Exit prides two escalators, well done tiling, and glass wall.  There is also an escalator for those unable to take to the stairs.


A Lightwall leads to the trains.  The tiles are still well done, and interesting and well polished metal work (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

The a Lightwall with great metallic features greets you as you walk along.  All parts are clean and well polished.

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As you walk out towards the up-most Southern exit the tile work is unbearably bad.  The tiles are also dirty with stains that appear to be there since the exist has opened.  The metal work is unpolished and dirty.  In some areas there is visible damage.

2014-10-14 10.24.06

The floor is badly maintained and appears shabby.  There are no escalators and no lifts  on this side of Euston Road, not even a German style two-way escalator.

2014-10-14 10.25.23

The definite end of Kings Cross development?  Compared to the other side with its bright pavement stones, pedestrianized areas, food stores,  South of Euston Road looks rather deprived sad and grey.

Posted in New | 6 Comments

The issue of the little pool revisited.

A year ago we raised the issue of Camden only providing a new swimming pool of the length of 25 meters plus a small hot tub pool.  There clearly was no space, or maybe there was but a lack of imagination?  Funny when you see this photo of the rear of 5 Pancras Square, where currently the foundations of a new building are being dug.

Examine the photo below taken this morning.  It is precisely in that basement that one could have created a longer, more meaningful leisure facility with a bit of will and creative thought, possibly connecting 5 Pancras Square with the new building for the purpose.  I do not think the owners of the building would have said no, if they would have been given free access to that facility.  Granary Square and the basketball court in honour, a big public sport facility would have set a legacy here for decades to come and for 10.000s of people.

It is not too late though, there are more buildings to be constructed, and maybe Argent and its partners can imagine to connect two basements for a more generously spaced sport facility, and maybe, even Islington and Camden could unite budgets for once, to support it, as all their facilities are already managed by the same sport facility group (Better).  Up your game to provide facilities that can be used properly by aspiring athletes and you can attract further support and finance from bodies like Sport England, the Lottery a.o.

2014-10-14 10.15.32

Related:  Only tiny pool for Kings Cross

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Mess around Kings Cross Square – TfL are letting the side down

mess on euston road bus stopWe wrote in January amid all the back slapping about the ‘completion’ of Kings Cross Square that there would be issues with keeping it clean and tidy and a welcoming public space.  In any public realm one needs to be clear who is keeping which bits of it under control – in this case a set of agents that needed a map to explain it.  Local resident Andrew reported last week that the area behind the bus stops is repeatedly hugely messy in the mornings – as this photo shows, and he has sent others. According to the map Camden supplied to us this area is the responsibility of TfL.  Andrew is trying to track someone down to sort it.  In this particular picture one can see a lot of MacDonalds wrappers amidst other take away and off licence debris. Maybe they should get out with a McBrush too.


Posted in Kings Cross Station Refurbishment, Street Tipping, Mess, Trash | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments