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Makeover plan for ‘the ugly brown building’

Six new blocks will range from six to 11 storeys in height

30 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The ‘ugly brown building’

IT is affectionately known by its owners as ‘the ugly brown building’.

And now plans have been lodged at the Town Hall to demolish the canalside landmark in Camden Town – currently the headquarters of Ted Baker – and replace it with homes, offices and a hotel. The international clothing brand, which sells street-smart office wear, says it wants to improve the working ambience of the offices to inspire designers to create cutting edge fashion – and ensure staff stay for the long-term.

Ted Baker says the new offices meet its “aspirations” to double the current workforce from 600 to 1,200. They also wish to create the first ever Ted Baker hotel, which will boast 87 “boutique”-style bedrooms, a bar and a restaurant. The building, on St Pancras Way, was created in the mid-1980s as a sorting office for the Post Office, but was shut after a decade.

Now Ted Baker runs its operations from the site, while parts of the building are empty. The company bought the site in 2000 and gave it the name “the ugly brown building”. They say they have now outgrown the site but want to remain there.

How the new development could look

Ted Baker and British Airways pension fund bought the freehold jointly in 2015, and Islington-based architects Bennetts Associates have drawn designs that show a new expanse of buildings, rising up to 11 storeys, with homes, shops, offices and a hotel.

In the application, the company states: “Now numbering around 600, the Ted Baker team is growing quickly and has fully occupied the existing building. Ted Baker wants to remain in Camden for the long-term and consequently has an immediate requirement to extend their existing building to support the growing business.”

With the historic Regent’s Canal running along the eastern side of the land, the architects want to create a new towpath area that will be accessible to the public from St Pancras Way, and will create spaces for moorings for boats and barges. The application says the scheme will “unlock” the land by creating a number of buildings with paths between them, instead of one bulky edifice.

The six new blocks will range from six to 11 storeys in height and at the heart of the project will be a new square, which will be publicly accessible and have a route through to the canal. The ground floor of each building will hold a mixture of shops, restaurants and cafés.

Plans for the site have been filed at Camden Town Hall

The architects state: “This will create a lively mix of uses throughout the day and evening, contributing to the life of the site and providing an opportunity for canalside activity linking the canal to the street.” They add that the area “around the site is changing rapidly, and the increased number of residents both on the site and nearby will help to support this transformation”.

They say that being between King’s Cross and Camden Town means increased footfall will help support new businesses on the land and firms will be encouraged to take up leases on shopfronts by the fact Ted Baker’s headquarters will be on the site. The Town Hall have yet to confirm when the scheme will go to the planning committee for consideration by councillors.

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