Never mind the White Cliffs, it’s the Glass Precipice

Computer rendering of the proposed building for 1–11 Euston Road

When visitors arrive in London by exiting from the front of King’s Cross in future, they may well be greeted by this sight, if developers are successful.

A company has applied for permission to build a 7-storey, 167-room hotel squarely facing the station. It would involve demolishing three of the last handful of Georgian buildings on Euston Road, between Birkenhead Street and Crestfield Street.

This gives a far more accurate indication than the render above of how tall the building would be

The images show a solid, sheer-faced block dwarfing the buildings around it. The developers’ design rationale audaciously justifies the height of the building as a response to the size of King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, and that it aims to create “definition and enclosure” for the gateway area which will be formed by the square in front of King’s Cross.

Unsurprisingly the proposal cites the 9-storey Camden Town Hall extension as a precedent for such a dramatic height, but that is some distance away. The junction may have a lot wrong with it, but one thing it has going for it is a consistent 19th century 5-storey scale and character.

The developers argue that the Georgian terraces, which are in the King’s Cross Conservation Area, ought to be demolished because of their tatty front extensions. Using that logic, the station itself should have faced the wrecking ball instead of being restored.

And who is this company with big designs on such a high-profile site? Searches of the applicant, “Gaylord Investments Limited” bring up a US-registered company with virtually no accessible data. All the numerous architectural drawings submitted bear no name of architect, client, nor date.

The application states: “An exciting contemporary and contextual design approach has been advanced for the site, which enjoys the general support of The Design Council.” But the Design Council’s letter included in the submission says: “Unfortunately, we are not convinced, from the information provided, that this concept [a translucent skin hung on cabling on the façade] will be successful and of sufficient quality appropriate to this prominent location opposite King’s Cross station…we question whether the visualisations are a true representation of how the building will look.”

Documents also reveal that the plans take into account Transport for London’s possible interest in adding a third lane on Euston Road at that point, which could mean losing 1.2m of pavement width at the front of the building.

Time is of the essence if you want to submit comments, the deadline is this Thursday, 1 December. This is the application, and this document, out of the collection of 50 or so, is a good overview of the scheme.

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
This entry was posted in Planning, Licensing and Regulation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Never mind the White Cliffs, it’s the Glass Precipice

  1. Stephan Schulte says:

    Clare,

    Thanks for making the community aware of this. Another massive bulding. Each one approved acts as justification for another. York Way is beginning to look like a caynon, now Euston Road will follows. Max height should be 4 stories.

    I only hope others object!

  2. The accuracy of this computer drawing is even questioned by the reviewers at CABE-Design Council. The calibre of design being proposed for such an “international gateway” is really worrying. And Transport for London wants even more heavy traffic lanes on this square.

  3. Mrs Marie-Stella KREPPEL (nee Ray) says:

    I add my thanks too for the alert. I think it is horrifying that the Council should (a) approve such a monstrosity that is dissonant with its surroundings and horrendous in its own right, and (b) deliberately try to conceal information on what they were approving. I object most emphatically to a proposition that is so counter to enhancing the good work already done.

  4. Geoff Williams says:

    How have the Council attempted to ‘deliberately try to conceal information on what they were approving’? What information has been withheld, and how do you know what the Planning Officer’s report is going to recommend, let alone what the Committee’s view on this might be. Inflamatory and inaccurate remarks are never particularly helpful in commenting on planning applications, as the reader, which might include a Planning Inspector at some stage, simply disregards them.

    I agree with Stephan’s comments on the potential ‘canyon effect’ on York Way, although obviously, a canyon requires two facades where we only currently have one. Has it simply been a case of developers in Camden getting away with a height and mass that developers in Islington couldn’t even dream of….especially as now they would effectively create the canyon by constructing anything over a couple of floors high opposite what has recently been erected?

    Whilst I agree with the idea behind the current application to which the blog post refers, I worry about it’s execution and in particular the covering that the developer is proposing to use. It would be interesting to see examples of the same system being used elsewhere, and what this system is likely to look like in 10 to 20 years from now, especially given the amount of pollution adjacent to the Euston Road.

    I disagree with Stephan’s comment that the proposal should be limited to 4 storeys, and see little justification for this view in terms of design and context.

    I also think that the junctions of the proposed with the Victorian building immediately to it’s South are clumsy.

    My tuppence worth.

  5. Thanks to your site for alerting us to this case. After hasty consultations among members the KXRLG has lodged an objection which you can find at http://www.kxrlg.org.uk

    I don’t think we are quite as polite as Geoff Williams (above) would like but we can be sure that Camden officers have behaved badly already insofar as they failed to reveal that these proposals were in the pipeline—or even their general thinking about the south side of the Square— in their “Place Shaping” plan for KX, nor in the consultation meetings about that plan, nor in meetings with the Development Forum to which they were invited, nor in response to specific requests from us for a plan or model of all sides of the King’s Cross Square. Geoff is right that their officer report to council may be fully professional, but their behaviour so far is NOT and I believe an inspector would take that view.

    Michael Edwards, co-chair, King’s Cross Railway lands Group

    • Clare Hill says:

      You’re very welcome. I’m glad you were able to put your comments in. It’s satisfying when I can bring something to light that I feel is not not being seen, and well worth the hours spent sifting through the documents.

      I must admit I did a doubletake when I saw the planning alert cross my desk, as you say this should have been more than a planning alert blip, this is major, and looks like it has come out of nowhere but now that the documents have seen the light of day I’m sure you’ve seen – this has been cooking for five years! Like you I find it astounding, and angering, that this was slipped under the radar, with every hope that it would go unnoticed.

  6. Pingback: Comments on the plans for a hotel opposite King’s Cross Station | King's Cross Development Forum

  7. Robert Milne says:

    The King’s Cross Development Forum lodged its objection to the planning application after the official deadline for responses (and after the “Justification for Demolition and Replacement” was put on the planning application web site). The details are on the Forum web site, at http://kxdf.wordpress.com. Several members had already sent in their own objections.

  8. Pingback: Permission refused for big hotel block on Euston Road | Kings Cross Environment

  9. Pingback: Buildings opposite station to be preserved | Kings Cross Environment

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