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Anyone want fewer cafes and more kebabs in Kings Cross?

April 7, 2010

2B York Way ... what's there now

Two cases have cropped-up in the past couple of months which show how much extra vigilance is needed around Kings Cross. Commercial property values and rents are rising. And, late night entertainment is taking a hold. So the demand for high turnover fast food seems to be increasing too.

The cafe at 2B York Way suddenly became a takeaway food outlet around the beginning of this year. And the former Sunrise Cafe at 95 Caledonian Road has also become a kebab takeaway called “Sky Fried Chicken and Kebab”.

2b York Way ... late last year

2B York Way ... only a few months ago

Neither of these premises has planning permission to operate as hot food takeaways. They only have permitted uses as cafes.

In the planning jargon, the use category known as “A3” (restaurants and cafes) is different to “A5” (hot food takeaways). There is a good reason for having two separate categories in planning law – the impact on the surrounding area is quite different between a sit-down cafe and a fast food takeaway.

In both cases, the owners have not just flouted the law relating to permitted use. They have also ignored the requirement to get planning permission before erecting gaudy shop fronts in a conservation area.

When the lower end of Regent’s Quarter was redeveloped, the frontages on York Way were carefully restored. So, at 2B York Way, a brightly-lit, in-your-face sign is an ugly intrusion to the streetscape and an unwelcome “gateway” to the Islington side of Kings Cross.

95 Cally Road - Sunrise cafe ... just a few weeks ago

And 95 Caledonian Road is part of an elegant terrace built in the mid 19th century. In the middle of the terrace is a reminder of previous times – there’s a marker stone which shows the boundary of Clerkenwell Parish and the former Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury. The new takeaway shop has mounted a large sign which is brightly lit at night.

Paul Convery says “It has taken a long time and great deal of effort to regenerate Kings Cross. The area did not simply suffer from physical dereliction but also a state of mind. Fortunately its sleazier reputation is evaporating as new investment takes root and the area is becoming home to a large residential population including many families.

The shopfront now

I am sure many people like to have a kebab or chips now and then, but the arrival of these new fast-food takeaways feels like an unwelcome jerk back to the past.

What particularly annoys residents is that business owners seem oblivious to the rules which require them to get a planning permission for the change of use – and for physical changes to their shopfronts in the conservation area. As a local Councillor and chair of the planning committee I have taken the steps to bring enforcement action against these wayward premises.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. paul coates permalink
    April 7, 2010 3:21 pm

    i agree that caledonian rd has a very downmarket food offering apart from a little at the Coop which remains one of the few ‘proper’ shops

  2. Danny Barnes permalink
    April 7, 2010 3:28 pm

    I am sick of seeing the results of these fast-food takeaways, not only the bags or boxes filling the streets the unhealthy food is sold in, but the remains their customers throw onto the streets and parks, this attracts rats and increases the breeding rate if they have a regular food supply.
    If the council allows these shops to trade, they should pay a tax towards L B Islington cleaning up the mess; also regular checks should be made on these premises by the local health authority.

  3. April 7, 2010 5:27 pm

    What we really need is a decent curry house ala Ravvi Kebab on Drummond St or Lahore on Commercial Road. Urgent planning issue here – deprivation of good curry and need for a prioritised use class – Punjabi or Bangladeshi food outlets (top priority). 😉

  4. Geoff Williams permalink
    April 15, 2010 10:16 am

    Surely in the case of ‘Sky Chicken and Kebab’ which is some distance from the hub of Kings Cross, the market decides whether it wants such an establishment there. If it fails through lack of custom, then there is clearly no need for the place….

  5. Tony Rees permalink
    April 16, 2010 6:22 pm

    When the Sunrise Cafe at 95 Caledonian Road was originally done up several years ago it was most attractive with a co-ordianted colour scheme and painted signs. Presumably with each tenant change the appearance has deteriorated with the latest change the absolute pits. Nothing nice remains, the timber window and door have been jettisoned and replaced with the cheapest aluminium, and the most ghastly signs erected. Hopefully once the Council’s enforcement procedure has been ground through the shop will be returned to a state appropriate to an area that has had millions of pound spent on it to improve the physical environment and eradicate such eyesores.

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