Institute of Physics – application for new building in conservation area Balfe Street and Cally Road

cally road elevation

The institute of Physics has submitted plans for a new building in the tired old site at the junction of Balfe Street and Cally Road, near Tesco behind the cocktail bar.  I know there is a lot of local interest in this one and IoP have been consulting locally.  People are keen to see this much abused site come back to life (it’s been a long time since TG Lynes left).  But the site is in a conservation area and backs onto a much loved set of community gardens.  A couple of pictures are pasted in here, but the full plans etc (P2014/3577/FUL) are online here where you can comment by 2 October.  The drawings are in a big 30mb pdf and the planning statement thing which explains it in english is here.

Balfe Street elevation

balfe street elevation

No doubt there will be plenty of comments (please add below).  Going through the material I keep returning to the sense that the IoP (who are lovely people and will i am sure be good neighbours) are trying to fit a quart into a pint pot here.  As their planning statement says:

‘The IOP wants their HQ to be a statement building, promoting both excellence in design and the values of the IOP to achieve sustainable development. In achieving this it has been required to transcend the limitations of adopted policy and guidance, most noticeably in respect of the roof extensions to Caledonian Road and Balfe Street’.

The building proposed is substantially bigger than the volume of the existing buildings and is designed, self avowedly to be ‘eye catching’ which is odd in a conservation area.  There seems to be a lot more glass and steel than one sees on York Way for instance.  And the factory North light roof in glass is (literally) OTT.

So it’s a classic local planning debate – do we want nice new neighbours or to drive a coach and horses through the conservation area, which will then create a precedent for neighbouring properties.

I should declare an interest in that I own a small flat about 100 metres North of the site.

Posted in Architecture | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Does this picture confirm that TfL plans to dump North South cycle superhighway traffic into Euston Road and Kings Cross gyratory at Judd Street?

north south kings cross gyratory extract

Now either I missed it the first time or it has quietly appeared but I have just found a graphic on the TFL consultation on the North South cycle superhighway which show that TfL’s intended endpoint for cycles is in fact to dump them into the Euston Road and Kings Cross gyratory at Judd Street.  When we first wrote about the route a week ago I didn’t see this diagram and speculated that the endpoint might be Argyle Street. The full diagram is here.   We are promised a further consultation.

I am now getting confused by all the local plans – I think this means that cycle traffic coming from the South, heading north will have to turn right then head up the madness of Pancras Road with it’s crazily u-turning cars and taxis or York Way.  Or go left, then make a sharp right up Ossulton Street with it’s huge traffic calming bumps for a long way around Kings Cross/St Pancras.  Or is there a plan somewhere for a contra-flowing cycle lane up Midland Road.  Grateful if someone could update in the comments.

Cllr Paul Convery has said in comments that Islington and Camden are still working on plans to dismantle the entire gyratory.  Which as gyratory resident Tony notes might allow a North South cycle lane across Kings Cross Bridge (by the Scala). Daniel a local cyclist has written about the absurdity gyratory recently so I thought it worth publishing this.  Bigger diagram below.

cycle route extract

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Kings Cross four unidirectional lanes for cars, but sorry we are not able to afford space for a cycle lane, it would slow the cars down!

TfL argues that buses and cars would be delayed severely when segregated cycle lanes would be introduced in the main roads of Kings Cross.  In the appendix of their results of the most recent consultation, we are given a taste of TfL’s thinking which claims pedestrians would be pushed out and car traffic reduced to but one lane:

“In order to introduce segregated cycle lanes in Kings Cross, we would need to create the space for these by removing either lanes of traffic or pedestrian footway. If a lane of traffic were removed in both directions, it would result in significant delays to local traffic including buses. The subsequent queuing would raise safety concerns at other locations in the area. Removal of pedestrian footway would not be acceptable because there would not be adequate space provided for pedestrians in the area.”

I have to say that this appears to be flaunted on multiple levels.

If cyclists receive segregated lanes they are largely off the motorists patch.  This actually smooths the traffic flow, the magical formula that seems to be the measure of all at TfL. If I took the motorists view, a segregated cycle lane actually liberates motorists,  buses, lorries and cars from their worry about cyclists and gives cyclists the space and confidence they need at one of London’s most dangerous areas.

Suggestions to move the super highway cycle lane out to Judd Street, as suggested in the new proposal currently open to consultation (see our post earlier this week), will not remove the fact that cyclists will approach Kings Cross from all areas, just like motorists. It is half baked thinking to suggest, that you can push all cyclists out on an alternative route, and the problem is solved on the other roads.

So as far as TfL is concerned, much of Caledonian Road, Acton Street, Grays Inn Road, Pentonville Road, Kings Cross Road, Swinton Street and York Way will remain largely the same, with a few cosmetic new lines on the road here and there, but without segregated lanes that would make such a difference to all and bring this station into the 21st century.   Camden’s own latest proposals only affect the junction with Camley Street and the tunnel crossing (see here) Crucially Euston Road West-bound traffic will not have a cycle lane at all  (see here). The gyratory road system is to stay then, because drivers can be certain they can zoom through here?  At what cost, may I ask?  It is not in any way acceptable, if motorists continue to be are alluded that Kings Cross is an area they can quickly drive through, when in off peak hours speeds of 50 miles an hour a reached in a very dense area with many pedestrians.  It is neither OK continue to send the message that if you are inclined to, just use your car to reach the station to drop of your people at Kings Cross or St. Pancras.

One of the issues I believe we have here is not only inflexibility to make adjustments to the motor traffic road, but also an almost holy treatment of the pavement area as the sole eternal space for foot-folk.  It is all very unusual in the way most modern central European cities think about this. I have recently been to Germany and Austria and amongst others there is no real issue with shared roads and shared pavements.  London pedestrians, however, seem to need a space as large as the new square in front of Kings Cross  station all for themselves, as incapable as the motorists to deal with the wheeled menace that cyclists are depicted as. It is an argument, I also heard when cycling lobbies asked for some space or mutual use in the Royal Parks in London like Hampstead, only to hear that in Britain somehow cyclists and pedestrians are different creatures all together from the rest of Europe, with foot-folk being eternal victims to ever beastly and ferocious cyclists, neither of whom are able to share a path or adhere to dedicated lanes.

And even where spaces are more narrow ( a frequent argument against sharing roads, operating it in lanes et c.), it is funny how our European neighbours just seem to swiftly and quietly manage this, either on shared use pavements or  even on narrow pavements with a division-line that gives cyclists and pedestrians each a half.

Kings Cross Road and  Grays Inn Road not large enough for separate cycle ways?  Are they serious?  I think we are being pulled along our noses.  Both were certainly large enough to extend the footways a decade ago.

So the streets are dense? How come then, neither TfL Camden or Islington have implemented draconian measures to discourage added traffic since the new Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations opened?  Whilst you can not park for long, anyone is allowed to drop off passengers in Pancras Way.  From Euston Road there are no restrictions for private vehicles to come in here, in spite of a huge amount of public transport possibilities, that includes buses, trains and the London underground as well as taxis.

If the liberty for private drop offs is not to be abolished, why is there no aggressive charging system for such drop offs at St. Pancras / Kings Cross for anyone but disabled people and taxis?  There should be double yellow lanes throughout, with parking attendants ready to slap tickets on cars.  Beside the many U-turns cabbies and private cars make here is a real new menace to people crossing the road and to cyclists.

And then the whole argument on traffic flow is false anyway.  Living Streets rightly told me recently in a conversation that TfL conveniently omits traffic flow of non-motorists in their calculations, even though in theory they are just as much to be counted.  When pedestrians in and around two major train stations wishing to cross on Pentonville Road, Euston Road, Caledonian Road, Kings Cross Road, and Swinton Street,  have to wait excessively long and then risk to run across at red phases, and are further are stopped in their crossing halfway, to wait another two minutes to cross the other half, then something is seriously wrong in the design.

In the memory of Deep Lee, for our children and for our own interests as residents of Kings Cross, we will not stop to demand segregated cycle paths on all roads of Kings Cross, including those managed by TfL.  This includes:

  • Caledonian Road,
  • York Way,
  • Euston Road,
  • Grays Inn Road,
  • the Kings Cross Bridge,
  • Swinton Street and Swinton Place
  • Pentonville Road,
  • Acton Street,
  • Pancras Road
  • Midland Road and
  • Pentonville Rise.

We demand further that the review of the gyratory system is finally implemented.  And they say Boris Johnson is a true cyclist…  I like to see him and his chaps from TfL on Euston Road everyday, on Boris Bikes!  Maybe then he will understand.

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Caledonian Ward Partnership meeting Wednesday 10 September 7pm

cally roadIf you want to praise, thank, improve or criticise something locally then this is a good meeting at which to do it.  It’s often a big ask to go out to a meeting when you get home tired from work and have struggled to get the kids to bed, but these local meetings are important and anyone can have their say.  Like  many things in life with local issues you get out what you put in.

You can find out more about Team Cally at the links below and on Facebook.   There is also a set of documents about the Cally Road including the Cally Plan on the Council website and minutes etc of previous meetings.

Message from local councillors:

Hard on the heels of Sunday’s fantastic Cally Festival, the next public meeting of the Team Cally Ward Partnership is this Wednesday, 10th September at 7pm at Jean Stokes Hall, Carnoustie Drive N1 ODX.

The Ward Partnership is an open forum where residents participate alongside Councillors, local businesses, charities and other organisations to make a difference in our area.

Come along to find out what’s happening in the ward and have your say.

The main items for discussion are:

1) update on the Cally Plan implementation
2) report on the Summer’s youth initiatives
3) feedback on the Cally Festival and plans for 2015
4) general questions to Councillors

We do hope you are able to attend. There is more information available about the partnership on the Team Cally website and the Council’s official pages at

Cllrs Rupert Perry, Una O’Hallloran and Paul Convery

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Some colour from the Cally Festival 2014 #callyfest #callyfestival @thecallyfestival

Here’s some highlights of the Cally Festival 2014 from Twitter

Posted in Food and Drink, Music, New, Young People | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cally Festival Sunday 1200 onwards @thecallyfest #callyfest

cally weatherIt’s the Cally Festival this weekend – from Sunday at 1200 until 1800 the middle bit of the Cally South of the Ferodo/Cally Bridge will be full of performers, stalls and thousands of people.  The weather, whisper it, is forecast to be good by the Met Office – even with some sun.  You can find out more here and all the latest stuff is on Twitter – follow @thecallyfest.

The Cally Festival is the result of immense hard work by local people, artists, businesses, community groups, organisations and the council.  It’s a tremendous symbol of how far the area has come – when I first lived on the Cally in 2001 this sort of thing was simply inconceivable.  To get an idea of the scale here’s a video from a couple of years ago.  Paul Convery captures it nicely in an article.  As well as its local significance I like it as a Festival – it isn’t just the usual rent-a-stall-street-thing but has a strong vein of genuinely local groups celebrating their stuff and eclectic artists and performers.  And it has a lovely gentle vibe that accommodates all local interests, including Dave Elvis.

Here’s a paste of the programme/billing from the website

A street market of delicious food and tempting goodies to admire and buy.
Story Street
poet Paul Lyalls presents an off-the-wall afternoon of poetry and stories on Story Street including Andrew Bailey, A.F. Harrold, Joshua Seigal, and Roald Dahl Museum storytellers.
Action Arena
burn off some energy with sports and activities brought to you by Times ABC Boxing Club, Arsenal in the Community and the Cally Pool.
Pirates Adventure
Calling all mini pirates, eyepatches at the ready – Crumble’s Castle Adventure Playground present all manner of pirate themed play from sword making to bandana decorating. All together…. ARRRRGHH!
The Arty Block Party
Local artists have come together to create a ‘block party’ like no other. A whole street dedicated to arts workshops – come and get your craft on. Brought to you by Peabody.
Bus Stop Dance Floor
Do the bus stop! Join us dancing in the street all day long – we’re doing everything from Salsa to the Charleston, with a Tea Dance and a Hula- hoop-off in between.
The Keskidee
Do You Remember Dis? Discover the story of the Britain’s first arts centre for the black community, the Keskidee Centre. Get a taste of its music, dub-poetry and theatre, with a special performance from master kora player Tunde Jegede.
Youth Stage
The young people from the Copenhagen Youth Project and Uperform are back with another lineup of music, dance, rap, poetry and DJing.
Main Stage
Presenting the finest music and performance the Cally has to offer. Expect to be wowed by local talent including a very special guest in a white jumpsuit…


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North-South Cycle super highway Elephant to Kings Cross – the death of ‘smoothing traffic flow’?

Detailed drawings_Page_13You could be forgiven for missing that there is also a North-South cycle route being planned to complement the ‘Crossrail for cycles’ that the media was excited about yesterday.  It’s less developed than the E-W proposal and, disappointingly the Kings Cross section isn’t ready for consultation yet.  TfL are in talks with Camden:

‘North of Farringdon station the route is planned to connect to a new ‘Quietway’ back-street cycle route connecting to King’s Cross. The details for this section are still being investigated with the London Borough of Camden and will be consulted on separately.’

Says the consultation page on the TfL website.

Of course the big question is ‘What will happen to cyclists when they get to Kings Cross?’  Presumably even TfL wouldn’t just dump them into the gyratory.  If i had to guess I would think they would route people to Argyle Street.

One really interesting aspect of this proposal is the apparent abandonment of the insidious ‘smoothing traffic flow’ dogma the Mayor has been so keen on since 2008 and which we criticised here during the long campaign on cycle safety and the need for corporate manslaughter charges against TfL.   We said that:

‘Smoothing traffic flow’ has featured prominently in the Mayor’s policy document since ‘Way To Go’ in 2008 and is enshrined in his full transport strategy. Feedback from cycling organisations and elected representatives suggest that this policy is frequently cited as a reason not to make improvements to road junctions that increase cycle safety. The implementation of this policy, which is intended to benefit cyclists too has failed and the policy has been mis-applied diminishing cycle safety.

‘…a cycle lane would make the road much safer for cyclists but would reduce the throughput of cars at the junction – the throughput of cars wins over cycle safety. This trade-off rears its head again and again. Yet we have no insight into how it has this been evaluated – how does a minor inconvenience to traffic outweigh a fatally poor design. What cost benefit evaluation has been used? Given TfL’s strong engineering tradition there must be a simple mathematical formula used to make this calculation consistently across the network. The UK is a world leader in these forms of appraisal but TfL never reveals its workings.’

The North South consultation document says, with respect to an improvement at Farringdon:

‘Impact of these proposals on traffic capacity and pedestrian crossing times

Our latest analysis shows the proposals would mean longer journey times for motorists and bus, coach and taxi passengers along most of the route, both during construction and once complete. There would also be longer journey times for users of many of the roads approaching the proposed route and longer waits for pedestrians at some signalised crossings. ‘

Which you wouldn’t have seen TfL fessing up to five years ago.  They will be doing a more detailed analysis TfL says, so let’s see what emerges.  Could be a big shift in the right direction.

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Kings Cross gyratory radical solution – to be relocated East of Dunwich says Mayor

Radical thinking in City Hall to tackle the Kings Cross gyratory has led to proposals to relocate the whole of Kings Cross to a new site East of Dunwich.  The dangerous, over capacity gyratory would be reconstructed in a green field/blue water site just off the cost of Suffolk.

The plans have been given new momentum by the rejection of the Boris Island airport proposal that has freed up capacity in the Mayor’s Amphibious Planning Unit.  Mr Jeremy Fisher of the APU said:

‘We spent £5million on the APU so far and have acquired world class expertise in land reclamation, spurious business plans and wild fowl.  This way the London realises some of that value  with a truly blue sky solution to the intractable Kings Cross issues.  This new site will provide endless capacity for driving around in circles and is the only way we could fit in a segregated cycle lane.  The 91 bus will be replaced with a Duck amphibious lander but no one will notice any changes to the 390 service performance even with a 200 mile detour underwater.’

A TfL source also said:

‘A big factor in Project Neptune (the code name for the Dunwich relocation) is the financial wheezes Kit Malthouse ‘s team cooked up for Boris Island – we made a huge investment in snorkel and flipper futures so we could have the market stitched up when it started to sink and sell them at a huge profit in TfL gift shops.  We can’t get out of the contract and need to do something with them.’

It’s thought that Google might relocate to Dunwich because ‘it’s wacky enough for them’.

The Mayor has allegedly challenged anyone who doubts the plan to a game of ‘Splish-splash whiff-whaff‘ on the new site.

Posted in satire | Tagged , , | 4 Comments