Rally urges inspectors to save Prince of Wales Road building

Thursday, 29th September 2011

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Published: September 29, 2011
DAN CARRIER

A LANDMARK building in the heart of Kentish Town which was saved from destruction after a long-running planning row is facing a new battle to avoid the bulldozer.

Home builders Redview Estates want to turn the former North London Polytechnic, on the corner of Prince of Wales Road, into a block of flats. Their plans were given the go-ahead by councillors in 2007 but when they came to renew planning permission earlier this year, the scheme was thrown out.

The 1926 red-brick building, with its curved iconic windows, is currently home to a Pizza Express restaurant. The developers want to knock it down and replace it with 14 flats – none of which will be for social housing. After the decision to reject the renewal application, the owners appealed to Whitehall’s planning department.

On Sunday, around 70 people gathered at the restaurant to rally support against the plans.

Organiser Alan Morris, of the Prince of Wales Road Residents Association, said he hoped the Town Hall would push through the plans to set up a local listing designation for buildings that are loved locally but may not make a national listing.

“This is a vulnerable building,” he said.

“I have heard it will be included on local lists, but it has not been issued yet. That may be good, but what strength in law does this provide?”

Mr Morris added that they had attempted to persuade English Heritage to consider giving the building special protection status, but the decision was still pending and could come too late for the inspectors’ hearing, which starts next week.

He added: “If this decision goes against us it will increase the vulnerability of other buildings in Camden that are liked by people who live here but are not nationally listed.”

The inspectors are expected to reach a decision within six weeks.

Planning consultants DPI, representing the owners Redview, said they had appealed as there was no reason the council could throw out a scheme in December, 2010, which they had passed in 2007.

Director Michael Gibbs said: “Our reasons for going to appeal is simply that our scheme has not changed since they passed it four years ago.

“Our position is we believe the building is not the special landmark they say it is.

“There were attempts to get it listed and they have failed. We therefore believe there is no good reason for the council not to renew planning permission.”

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