Camden town hall annexe sell-off still on the cards?

Reproduced under Creative Commons

The new Labour-led council is going ahead with plans drawn up by the previous LibDem/Conservative-led council to sell the 1970s town hall annexe building and construct new offices in the King's Cross railway lands, according to a report in Camden New Journal (CNJ) on July 22. (Labour U-turn over ‘vanity project')

This is despite well-publicised Labour opposition before the election, from both King's Cross Councillor Jonathan Simpson and Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson, which picked up on strong local feeling.

As a King's Cross ward resident, I was anxious to see what was to happen to the project. I agreed with concerns put forward about the loss of my local library, the dangerous precedent set by the likely building of a much higher 'skyscraper' south of Euston Road and years of disruption for the local school and other facilities. In an individual written response to a letter of concern from my household, Frank Dobson said, "I should make clear that I am opposed to the Lib/Dem led council to sell off the Town Hall extension for redevelopment…I don't think it is in the Council's job to go in for property speculation…(this and other sell-offs mentioned in the letter) are to the disadvantage of the local community."

I happened to contact Cllr Simpson before the CNJ story was published, to find out the fate of the sale and details — he referred it on to Cllr Sarah Hayward, also of King's Cross ward and a council cabinet member. I'm awaiting a reply.

The building's costly state of disrepair was the key justification made by the LibDems and Conservatives for the site's disposal. They talked of a repair bill of some £15m. But according to the recent news story, the Labour administration now say it's a £77m bill. Whichever the figure, it is crucial that the calculations behind these hefty figures be made available for public scrutiny. If a decision has indeed been made, the local community deserves no less than a full and detailed explanation and the first fair chance to probe this controversial deal.

Clare Hill

About Clare Hill

Clare is a writer and editor who lived in King’s Cross for a decade. She is passionate about local history, transport and food. Contact Clare by commenting on her posts or go to http://www.clarehill.net
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5 Responses to Camden town hall annexe sell-off still on the cards?

  1. Tobias Newland says:

    I agree with your feelings of unease about this. As you mention there are many potential concerns here. The council needs to be much more open about this and do some proper consultation. It would also be interesting to hear why the mayor has changed his mind on this since he was in opposition.

  2. Nathan Imby says:

    Why oh why oh why is the council even contemplating moving to a brand new facility, thus helping to regenerate the area and providing brand new facilities to local residents. Instead of fleecing a property company out of millions for the current decrepit site why is it not wasting many millions it self by trying to bring the current decrepit building up to any kind of reasonable standard,

    This area has to the dogs once they started regenerating it and getting rid of the prostitutes & dodgy characters that made the area the welcoming place it was renowned for. 😦

  3. Clare Hill says:

    Nathan, it would be good if you could make your comment a bit clearer. Are you anti- or pro- the Town Hall extension site being sold and a new building built at a different site?

    And are you being serious or sarcastic about the area ‘going to the dogs’ after regeneration? Which area do you mean, the area near the Town Hall extension or the area where it is proposed to be moved?

  4. Alistair Knight says:

    I’m conflicted on this issue. The existing building is an eyesore I would gladly see demolished, but I can’t imagine the replacement being any more sympathetic.

  5. Clare Hill says:

    The existing building is an acquired architectural taste, but at least it’s of a reasonably sympathetic scale and design – and as you say, relative to what would go in its place. I’m no expert but also the quality of build and serviceability seems to decrease exponentially each decade. I think it’s quite a sound building, it has been refurbed in the past and I’m sceptical about the size of its maintenance bill. I am still trying to find some time to wade through the material that the council will let me look at to get to the bottom it.

    Not in these cash-strapped times (or any time) should we be knocking over serviceable buildings.

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