We imagine that everyone is aware of the huge Murphy’s site at the top of the High Street.
(This is not to be confused with the Regis Road area which contains the Recycling Centre and the car pound and which lies to the south west of the railway lines.)
The Murphy’s site is to the north east of the railway lines and lies behind The O2 Forum and the church along Highgate Road – opposite the fire station.
This is an area that is hard to notice apart perhaps from when you travel on the Overground railway line and you see just how huge it is. Currently it is used by Murphy’s to store equipment and inevitably it has come up for development.
The Kentish Town Neighbourhood Plan was created by the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum and was the subject of very lengthy public consultations and eventually a referendum. It is now part of the official planning system of Camden Council.
In that plan there was a lot of emphasis on the potential benefits of developing the Murphy’s site in terms of creating new homes, employment, some open spaces and a way through to the Heath straight from the top of our High Street. There is probably general agreement that the development of this site is welcome. It will be the detail of how that is done that is important, and the reason Camden is consulting, prior to an official planning application being made.
We have now had notice of the consultation organised by Camden for the scheme. This is due to take place on Tuesday 8 September at 7.00. The format is not obvious to us – whether it is by people emailing in comments or by Zoom or some other platform – but this is the link to the Camden information: https://camdenplanning.councilsuk.live/murphysyard
You need to register if you are going to take part. At the time of writing this only 14 people seem to have registered.
The significance of this development is obviously one of quite a major impact on the whole area but possibly the most obvious and therefore the most controversial part is the plan that has been put forward for some quite tall buildings alongside the railway line which will compromise the view of the Heath from the top of the town.
Safeguarding that view and the sense of openness that it gives to Kentish Town has also been a priority in the Neighbourhood Plan so there is a potential conflict.
This is the link to the document now produced and which will be the subject of the discussions on Tuesday. http://www.murphysyardconsultation.co.uk/images/29.01.20%20Stage%202%20Report%20Final.pdf
The development plan for the site has been produced by planners working for Murphy’s and was the subject of a number of consultations. Some members of IARA attended those consultations.
Some key passages from the consultation report are these:
“The topics most widely raised were daylight/ sunlight provision for neighbouring residential properties to the north, east and south-west and the potential impact of introducing height to the area. The issue of wind was also raised as a potential negative effect of tall buildings, in particular how this would impact the Heath Line.” “Nonetheless, several aims for development were agreed amongst the groups regarding height: It was widely accepted that it is necessary for the scheme to commit to tall buildings in order to meet the housing and industrial aspirations and policy targets whilst providing plentiful green and open space. Some opined that this was unnecessary and that the buildings should not be so tall, with a trade-off of public space a fair compromise, whereas others believed that the buildings could be taller to accommodate additional homes. It was widely accepted that key views should be respected between Kentish Town, Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath. Attendees interpreted this position differently, with some stating that any compromise of a viewing corridor was unacceptable, and others believing that the development should ‘enhance’ the existing views by contributing to it. “
It must be said that nobody at the meeting we attended accepted it was necessary for the scheme to commit to tall buildings. The point was made that talk of the need for high buildings to make the scheme “viable” was another way of saying the scheme needed to be more profitable. Nobody at the meeting we attended thought that tall buildings intruding on the view of the Heath would “enhance the existing views by contributing to it.”
The planners talked of 25 storey buildings and suggested that 18 storeys was a significant reduction that should be welcomed.
They comment “Generally, attendees agreed that the location of the tall buildings – at the southern intersection of the site to respect the viewing corridor – as well as the principle of spreading the massing around the development was acceptable and welcome.” This does not accord with our recollection. There was widespread resistance to the building of 18 storey blocks in such a sensitive location.
During the consultation it was noticeable and commented on that the heights of these buildings were not made visible in the aerial perspectives of the site and they do not appear on the small diagram contained in the plan as published.
As regards housing gain the plan says “The project team’s target of 750 homes and 35% affordable housing split into 60% socially rented and 40% intermediate rent, was welcomed.” In fact, at the meeting many people pointed out this represents only 157 genuinely affordable homes.
Below is the notification from Camden Council:
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“We have now set up a remote Development Management (DM) Forum on the 8th of September of the Murphy’s Yard, site located on Highgate Road, London NW5 1TN.
We want to consult as widely as possible for this event and I was wondering if you could help promote it and let me know if there are any key individuals or groups that should be invited. In addition we will be sending out letters 14 days before the event and putting up site notices in the local area. The power of email and social media is useful for getting the message out there so we will post on the Council’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
We’ve set up a dedicated website here – https://camdenplanning.councilsuk.live/murphysyardkentishtown – On this website you can see a description and site map for the proposals, register for the event and you can visit the applicant’s website here: http://www.murphysyardconsultation.co.uk/
You can already submit questions in writing and from the 26th you’ll be able to ask questions via video.
Below is a description of the proposals.
Redevelopment of Murphy’s Yard site (excluding Murphy’s headquarters and the O2 Forum Kentish Town) with partial retention of the existing central railway sheds, and erection of 17 buildings ranging in height from 3 to 18 storeys to provide a mixed use development including: Circa 40,000sqm of industrial uses (including light industry as well as general industry and storage), 750 residential units (targeting 35% affordable housing), as well as circa 31,000sqm of offices, circa 9,000sqm of healthcare, circa 4,000sqm leisure/retail/cultural space.
The distribution of uses provides a residential-led neighbourhood in the northern part of the site and an industrial/commercial neighbourhood centred on light-industrial uses to the south with variety of unit sizes and including affordable workspace. A new, landscaped public route (for pedestrian and cycle access) between Kentish Town and Hampstead Heath (“the Heath Line”) is proposed alongside wider landscaping and public realm improvements and access routes into and across the site.
Primary vehicular access is proposed from the existing entrance on Sanderson Place and a reconfigured access on Gordon House Road.”