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Morrisons supermarket redevelopment will ‘ruin historic buildings’

Developers: 'Supermarkets with large car parks today are an incredible waste of space'

27 July, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

How the new development would lookkFarm will look

THIS is how a branch of Morrisons would look if planners approve a massive redevelopment scheme set to change the face of Chalk Farm.

But while the supermarket in Chalk Farm Road is in line for a striking new store, the wider overhaul of the site, which will see two new tower blocks built, has triggered predictions that it will come to dominate the skyline.

Camden Council planners have been asked to approve a scheme drawn up over the past 18 months by Morrisons and home builders Barratt. One block of 14 storeys is planned, another will be 10 floors tall. Six hundred homes, new offices and the revamped supermarket are in the deal.

Richard Simpson, chairman of the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee, whose group are organising a public meeting at Primrose Hill Library on Wednesday to discuss the project, called the project a “massive corporate take over” that would ruin historic buildings.

He added: “The proposed towers and the bulky blocks would dominate the site and massively overwhelm the historic buildings which are key to the area’s iconic Camden status. The distinctive tower of the Interchange Building would be lost in the mass of blocks and towers. Long views of the Roundhouse are reduced to glimpses between slabs of new building which diminish the historic character in their clichéd pastiche.”

He added: “Our historic buildings and views matter: they are the landmarks which make Camden special, distinctive, they mark out our place. What we are faced with in the Morrisons development is the built expression of a massive corporate takeover. We’ve already seen across London the problem of space controlled by private security companies, we don’t need more sterile pseudo-public space. Big questions include how the housing would work for local families, how affordable the promised affordable housing would be.”

Residents in nearby Juniper Crescent and Gilbeys Yard have also expressed fears over the size of the buildings and what it will mean for pressure on services.

Barratt’s head of London planning, Martin Scholer, told the New Journal yesterday (Wednesday) that the scheme would bring huge investment into Chalk Farm, provide hundreds of affordable homes and make the most of land that was underused.

He said: “The supermarket was built in the 1980s by Safeway and it was of its time. But supermarkets with large car parks today are an incredible waste of space.”

He added that they had consulted widely over 18 months before the scheme went to the Town Hall. They had made significant changes, with the largest building being reduced from 17 storeys to 14. Original plans to build 700 homes have also gone down to 570, with the number deemed affordable rising from 20 to 35 per cent.

Mr Scholer said the tallest block would be built in London brick, to match the Victorian industrial feel of the neighbourhood. He said: “We have done a lot of modelling from various places looking at the impact of the building. Of course it is visible, but from certain views it is obscured by others. The harm caused by the visibility is not so detrimental that the scheme should not go ahead.”

A consultation period ends in mid-August and Barratt and Morrisons hope a decision will be made by the end of the year.

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