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Car-free boulevard could link Kentish Town with Hampstead Heath

First look at Murphy builder's yard proposals

19 July, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

First look at how the Murphy builder’s yard site could be transformed

A NEW traffic-free route from Kentish Town tube station to Hampstead Heath will be a crucial element of a multi-million pound homes and employment scheme unveiled this week.

A builders yard owned by construction firm Murphy, which runs alongside rail tracks, has been earmarked for redevelopment – and the firm showed off early ideas at an exhibition on Tuesday.

Murphy, who have been on the site for more than 50 years and employ 400 staff, hope to build a vast new homes and jobs complex on the 17-acre site.

The proposals include a meandering avenue that would start next to The Forum music venue and take walkers up to the entrance to the Heath by the Lido. It would be wholly car-free and landscaped with public spaces.

The designs revealed a Victorian building – once used as a steam engine workshop – would be refurbished, while a redesigned depot for the building firm and a new cultural area would also be created.

The land rises and falls in height, offering architects the chance to create buildings of differing heights and a set-piece landscaped slope leading up to Parliament Hill Fields.

Anywhere between 500 and 750 new homes could be created, according to the exhibition held at The Forum, while a cantilevered bridge heading to Kentish Town City Farm has also been suggested.

Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum chairman Ben Castell told the New Journal it had laid out clear ideas of what they wanted – and hope to work closely with Murphy to shape the project. Mr Castell said: “We are hopeful they will not waste the opportunity to create a special piece of London that meets the needs of local people. Our aspirations are that development must be human-scale with a rich mix of uses – employment, housing and community. It must be green, both in terms of eco-credentials and reflecting the green openness that is a characteristic of the area.  It must exploit the opportunity to create a new pedestrian and cycle link from Kentish Town station to the Heath.”

Mr Castell said the project should also focus on the desperate need for affordable homes in the area and be suitable to both attract families and “downsizers” looking to leave larger properties but stay in the area. He said: “We worry that there will be the temptation to cram in towers. “Murphy have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to leave a legacy in the shape of a whole new neighbourhood, but only one chance to get it right. It needs sensitive design.”

The site as it currently looks

Project director Paul Brosnahan has worked for Murphy for 43 years and said the plans were prompted by the need to make the best of the land. He added: “We have been here since 1960 and we had been living the quiet life for many years. When neighbourhood forums were set up, the question was asked what could be done with the land. The site has previously been very closed off and our plans would mean it was opened up for all.”

While the project is in its early stages, a planning application could be ready for parts of the site by next year.

But David Hogan, who lives in Highgate Road, said the presentation lacked crucial details – and therefore was worth little to those who came to see it. He said: “We are not anti-development but there was a lack of detail to the point of being disingenuous. Until details are given, it is very hard to assess the impact this scheme might have.”

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