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Discussion: 100 years of Social housing

Francis Crick Insitute 1 Midland Rd, London, Londdon

Owen Hatherley and John Boughton on 100 years of social housing in Somers Town

Protest banner

HS2 protestors removed

The trees on Euston Square Gardens are soon to be cut down, meaning our area loses precious green assets – for a taxi rank to move temporarily. This morning the XR protestors were forcibly removed so their protection is now gone. They have apparently been tunnelling – wonder if this is the old nanny’s tunnel that used to exist beneath the street?


Flats in luxury tower on sale

Before it’s even had a foundation stone placed on the Brill Place site, estate agents are marketing flats that are to be built in ‘King’s Cross’ (sic) in Somers Town, apparently where you can ‘enjoy the benefits of nature”.

Guess how much a 3 bed (will go) for – is it:




Guess the highest you’re right!

A new iconic residential development for King’s Cross, Grand Central Apartments is a standout tower designed by award-winning architects Stiff + Trevillion and consisting of 68, One, Two & Three bedroom apartments and stunning Penthouses. Situated in a quiet Parkside enclave CIP with two acres of green public space where you can relax, and enjoy the benefits of nature

Outdoor scene

Opinion: Camden spent what? on external consultants…

£295,743 was spent on External consultants on the Phoenix Road Greening project by Camden. You read that right: £295,743.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Cllr. Paul Tomlinson, the Neighbourhood Forum was left today in pondering what this spend was on.

Certainly not for those of us who spent hours in workshops sharing ideas (for free) and didn’t hear back; the school whose input that was reduced to one line in the resulting report; the stunning insight in the finding that the road is “easy to cross” (depends where …hellish at the Cock, for example) ….so we are wondering: what exactly was this spent on?

Many locals could be forgiven for thinking just get on with it and do something – anything. The latest we hear is a prototype year is planned. Forgive the phrase ‘told you so’. Others have suggested words such as ‘obvious’ and ‘bleeding’.

And when an idea for this prototype is proposed, the fairly well-established community group (local unpaid volunteers) was told to ‘go find funding’! You would think they’d welcome ‘ownership’ by the community – that is the rhetoric of co-design.

I long ago thought our over-consulted locals should get together and set up a fancy consultancy – ‘Insights’ has a vague enough ring to it to impress even the most institutionalised community engagement (PR) officer, and charge ourselves out to be paid to have the ideas. It would certainly help the local unemployment figures.

There’s been a long-held ambition for a Somers Town Museum or a History Space to celebrate the local history – the money could have paid for it by now.

Given the concerns and rapid rate of demolition of heritage along the site – three (er… Camden) locally listed buildings have gone down; 81 stolen 1930s artworks still not replaced, so why didn’t this consultation collaborate with the Somers Town History organisation?

Along the flyer (asking for yet more to-be-ignored community ideas) are listed (again!) LDA Design; Global Generation – all outside consultants and not local residents.

Apparently this will bring to life ‘art/ culture’ – but no real reference to local heritage. Let’s hope don’t end up with the vision above in that Design Agency’s own document – a glorified corporate retail park.

Not what we had in mind.

– Opinion by Polysterene Banshee (view in this piece do not necessarily represent the Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum).

The documents can be seen below.

Tree with scarf on it

HS2 – Extinction rebellion to be forcibly removed from Euston Sq Gardens

It seems HS2 may well take in police to remove protestors forcibly from the trees in Euston Square gardens where they are camped to protect our green space. There are approximately 53 trees to be cut down and most for temporary reasons, for taxi ranks to be moved.

We are grateful to XR for the service to the community.

Here is a video of the protestors who have lived in the trees since August when they moved in.

Go down to Euston to help!

Photos of people holding photos of buildings.

Made of Somers Town…or made of King’s Cross?

An exhibition of posters has appeared on Phoenix Road hoardings and the eagled-eyed might spot photos show a number of buildings that have been knocked down in Somers Town or surrounding area in recent years:

the old Goods yard wall along Ossulston Street

the old convent and Maria Fedelis on Phoenix Road Locally listed

42 Phoenix Road Locally listed

A block off Hampstead Road demolished by HS2 works

the Police depot that used to be Evening Standard building

the green park where they are now building a new luxury tower block

All things Somers Town have lost in the changes. Other posters show the community – we are still here!

An event will be held in January the 14th to accompany the exhibition.

Please book tickets here.

Are we really King’s Cross??

A hoardng with words Made of Kings Cross on it.
The hoardings in Phoenix Road have the words ‘Made of King’s Cross’ on them.

The British Library Extension – more building!

The first public online meeting unveiled early plans for the new British Library Extension. Somers Town locals are likely to think – more building! Yes, it is and high as the Crick and there will be east – west routes which will increase footfall into the neighbouring Ossulston Estate.

At the first webinar held by Stanhope and the British Library, we learnt of its likely shape and function. Questions were asked about the routes, impact by having an Ossuslston Street entrance; its purpose and community involvement.

Despite much rhetoric around community, culture, openness, gallery space, entrepreneurship, collaboration it would seem that applies to tech start ups the Library hopes to take residence, and not schools and community with hopes of a co-curated exhibitions led by locals, and a permanent home for a Somers Town Museum, representatives of whom had their hopes firmly quashed. It seems we can ‘contribute’ – so much for start ups by the Somers Town community!

So the photo here is a sneak preview.

To find out more look out for consultation and plans and attend later webinar.

Residents in Levita House need to keep reminding the developers that the noise and impact on traffic through the estate will necessitate sound proofing as people with trolley suitcases pass through the estates.

It’s out for consultation with planning permission pending form Camden Council.

Here’s the Crossrail map the whole thing needed to be designed


Somers Town has its own Rachel Whiteread house!

Visitors may be bemused by the Rachel Whiteread-a-like installation emerging phoenix-like to stand alone from the remains of the demolition of an entire row of Phoenix Rd locally-listed buildings. A rump of a building completely filled in by concrete.

But, no, it’s not an artwork, it’s the result of a standoff between the developers of 42 Phoenix Road and the owners of Maria Fidelis School site over their shared wall. Last year, the school contractors filled a section of the old Maria Fidelis building with concrete and sealed it up, rather than enter into a party wall agreement with their neighbours. They have since applied for planning permission to keep the structure.

What, you may ask, is the role of Camden Council in this?

Somers Town is being dismantled, building by building, park by park green space disappearing, a luxury tower built on the precious little green space left, yet we hear of commitment to environment, community and housing.

About as much use as a house full of concrete. Perhaps it should stand as an artwork forever a memorial to incompetence and hollow (sic) promises, the useless result of neglect of heritage, local wishes, disregard of environment and community.

And at least with an artwork, locals can benefit by charging visitors!