Kings Cross perspectives – Britannia Street, regeneration, street crime

Car park Kings Cross is in yet another a state of flux, Kings Cross is always in a state of flux.  It's great to capture snapshots as the area changes over time.  Leah DIxon sent in this piece about her part of Kings Cross around Brittania Street. She writes powerfully from her perspective about the reality of the benefits of regeneration, a lack of facilities and living close to the sex and pub and club trade. 

I'd like to start a series of 'Kings Cross Perspectives' – people's views of their patch in their own words.  If you have a perspective on Kings Cross drop me a line to environment@cankfarm.com

Over to Leah:

'I wanted to write about the state of affairs in my patch of Kings Cross.  Having been brought up in Camden I was aware even as a young child that Kings Cross was a no go area full of prostitutes and drug addicts.  Apologies of those of you who lived there then and don't feel this is fair but thats what it seemed like when we passed through.  

'I moved to this part of Camden 6 years ago with, what I thought, was the knowledge that Kings Cross was now an up and coming area.  I thought it would be a safe place to bring up my child.  I now feel that was the wrong decision. I wanted to prove all the people who looked at me in shock when I said I live in Kings Cross wrong.  I wanted to be proud of what the area had to offer, like Camley Street, 1KX and the library.  I tried to ignore the absence of any trees, bushes or flowers on my street and the deaf ears of the council to make a positive difference to the lives of residents.  I've certainly tried to ignore the sirens, the pollution, the drunken revellers and the bass from the Scala on a saturday night.  I can't, however, ignore the blatant sex workers, drug addicts, street drinkers and beggars that are constantly increasing day by day.  

'I have been in touch with the local police and safer neighbourhood teams 3 times just this week.  I'm complaining to them about incidences taking place at 10am, 12pm, 3pm.  They are telling me its worse at night!!  They seem to think the increase is because they've been concentrating on the fall out of the riots.  I don't care why, I care about keeping my 13 year old daughter safe.  She walks to school every day past the car park on our street where the police have informed me, through CCTV footage, that sex work, drug taking, graffitti and urination are taking place every day (ok more at night!!).  The evidence is also there with used needles and condoms lying discarded.

'How can I stay in this area any longer?  Who benefits from the regeneration of Kings Cross?  All I see is more bars and clubs (where sex workers are targeting drunken men for their trade according to police) to keep the professionals and students happy, boutique shops and hotels for tourists, take away food (so people in this area can continue to be the unhealthiest in Camden) which contributes to huge amounts of litter on the street.

'Where are the facilities local people need?  Do I wait until 2015 to get a tree on my street, for the Euro car park owners to redesign their car park to ensure sex workers and drug addicts aren't able to use it as their own private playground?  Do I wait for my daughter to see something beyond her years?

'No.  I think despite her loving her Islington Secondary, the youth centre at Corams and her best friend up the road I won't wait.  Like many before me I think it is either time to take some action or leave for good.

'I have attached a photo of the car park on my street.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online, trustee. The Indigo Trust.
This entry was posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc, Community Health and Welfare, King's Cross People. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Kings Cross perspectives – Britannia Street, regeneration, street crime

  1. Phil says:

    This is a sad story which I dont think is that uncommon in many parts of London not just Kings Cross. My point of view is very different from Leah’s as I am a 30 year old professional man with no children. From my point of view there aren’t many parts of London I think are great for kids. So I really do sympathise with people who make the effort to establish themselves in an area.

    I have lived just off Copenhagen Street for 5years and I have loved every minute of it. I think from Kings Cross station up to Copenhagen Street has developed massively and is now a fantastic place to live. It feels safe and lively without being overly busy. Obviously I dont get any of the noise spill mentioned above but the young and vibrant feel of the place seems set to explode into a buzzing up and coming area as many parts of Hackney and Dalston have done.

    I still feel that further north up Caledonian Road is still a little dodgy and I am unfamiliar with the Brittania Street area. Having lived all across London (Brixton, Kennington, Tottenham, Putney) I still feel Kings Cross is one of the safer areas. I saw more fights in Putney than anywhere else but I guess it is the unseen crime that causes more issues.

    I think the coming of St Martins students will help push development further with shops pushing further up York Way (Pret has started this already) and hopefully help to diversify the social demographic even more.

    Personally I couldn’t be happier in Kings Cross.

  2. Finn says:

    I live on Britannia street I am plagued by heavy base from the kings cross social club every Friday and Saturday night. The street does benefit from one of the finest art galleries in the city where people step out of rolls Royce’s to buy fantastic pieces of art. I have lived on this street for last 5 years it has been bad but, recently the last few months have see a individual cut his own finger off as a sign of love towards his girlfriend who in turn slashed her wrists both were obviously high and outside my house. A brawl 2 weeks ago out side the kings cross social club and people urinating in my doorway at any time of day and night. When and how does this get stopped!

  3. Ryan says:

    I also live in Britannia Street and have definitely noticed a large increase in the amount of drug addicts and beggars milling around. There have also been a few more fights than usual (yes, I do unfortunately use the word “usual”) and a person got kicked half to death in the road behind mine by three men (they did not take kindly to his drug taking in the street). I have noticed this general trend in other parts of Kings Cross, especially along Euston Road. I did not know the above-mentioned car park was such a haven for drug addicts and prostitutes though this somehow does not surprise me – I assume this has partly caused the influx to the road behind my flat. Parts of Kings Cross seem to be regressing (Britannia Street, Greys Inn Road, etc.) and I hardly see any police presence other than at the station itself. Are we being forgotten about?

  4. Andrew says:

    I was buying some lunch at Tesco a couple of months back, and on the way out a man verbally abused and tried to physically assault me. I have got quite tired of this sort of behaviour, so rang 999.

    While I was being put through and they were taking my details I followed him (from a distance) to outside King’s Cross station, he was abusing/attempting assault on a lot of people. So it wasn’t just me! :)

    Once the police had taken my details and I had finished the call, I saw a community police support officer heading the other way. I stopped and explained the situation to him, he recommended waiting for the police to arrive from my 999 call, as he was in the middle of another job – he then asked me if I had seen a man in a jacket, covered in blood, heading the other way.

    I try to report all these sorts of things so the police get a good idea of what is going on day to day.

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