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97 Caledonian Road – the oldest eyesore in Islington – finally to be redeveloped?

February 4, 2014
97 Caledonian Road (20140202_133446)

New scaffolding and safety netting has been erected – demolition to begin soon?

For over 20 years, thousands of people travelling down Caledonian Road past its junction with Killick Street and Wharfdale Road will have wondered “why has that tumbledown building been left to rot?”

But, after legal threats by Islington Council, it now looks like the building’s owners are preparing to demolish and erect a “facsimile” building in its place. New scaffolding has gone-up and safety netting installed, prior to demolition.

Detailed planning permission was finalised in May 2013 for the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a 3 storey plus basement replacement with an “A1 use” (retail) at ground and basement floors and 3 self-contained flats (see below for fuller details).

The Council had been in contact with the owners repeatedly since their original planning permission was granted in 2011. Legal letters had been sent threatening formal action (which would lead to compulsory purchase) between June 2012 and June 2013. In October 2013, Islington Council received assurances from the owner that they will commence demolition in early 2014. They have promised a timetable with a new superstructure erected by August, roof installed in late October and the works completed by July 2015.

The Council is closely monitoring the site and progression of works and will consider further formal action if progress is not satisfactory.

Cllr Paul Convery comments “Many people, myself included, have been perplexed why this building has been derelict for two decades, especially considering the very high land values in the area. Partly the problem is “land-banking” where an owner just sits on a property waiting for its value to increase further. But it’s also due to a bit of ‘planner purism’ getting in the way, particularly from English Heritage. In a conservation area, it seems to be professional anathema for planners to have an old building torn down. Even if it’s almost collapsing through decades of abandonment. But now there is simply no economically feasible way the original fabric of the building can be retained. It’s just too far gone. After some pressure, our planning and conservation officials finally accepted that a demolition and re-build was the only possible way to rescue this site. I just hope the owners pull their finger out and genuinely get the redevelopment done. If they don’t – and we’re keeping a close eye on this – then the Council will re-commence legal proceedings”.

UPDATE: 12th February

Demolition work has begun but residents have asked if it is safe. The building is being demolished directly above the pavement. Cally Councillors asked the Council Streetworks team (who issued the scaffold licence) to revisit the site and they have now arranged modifications to be made to the scaffolding and agreed a revised demolition method for working alongside the highway (more dismantling than demolishing).  The Streetworks team will continue to monitor the site to ensure public safety until demolition is complete.

Some more detail on the planning history: Permission was first given in 1986 but never used and the building became unoccupied. Almost twenty years later, in July 2005, permission was granted to “completely refurbish” with a shop at ground floor and five 1-bedroom flats including a mansard roof extension. This was never implemented. The owners put-up a 3 storey high wraparound advertisement hoarding without planning permission and the Council refused their retrospective application. Several further planning applications were submitted in order to demolish and rebuild but these were refused, most recently in 2008.

In May 2013, detailed permission was granted to new owners (P2012/0111/AOD) pursuant to planning application P112597 (an original permission grantedFebruary 2012) for the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a 3 storey plus basement facsimile building with a ground and basement A1 unit and 3 self contained flats (3 x 2 beds). The applicants are private developers, Mr and Mrs Schwarzemann who have a registered address in Edgeware and their architects are Design Solutions based in NW6. The Design and Access statement is here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00172785.pdf with drawings of external detailing here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049742.pdf and internal plans here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049742.pdf

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Orlaith Keller permalink
    February 15, 2014 3:08 pm

    Thanks for this, as we live facing this building, we will be keeping a close eye, many thanks, Local resident.

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  1. 97 Caledonian Road – refurbishment starts on local eyesore | Kings Cross Environment

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