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New medical research labs will be ‘banal’

Conservationists say new building could fit 'on a roundabout in Milton Keynes'

13 October, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

How the new building will look

REDEVELOPMENT plans for a prime King’s Cross site have come under fire from civic groups who claim the scheme will not fit in with historic buildings nearby.

Global medical science firm MSD have signed a deal to move into new research labs in a 10-storey block proposed for the corner of Euston Road and Argyle Square.

The site is currently largely used as a storage centre and property firm Precis are looking to secure planning consent to send in the bulldozers and begin work on the replacement. But a collection of neighbourhood groups have objected over how it will look close to heritage buildings.

Hugh Cullum, chairman of the Bloomsbury conservation area advisory committee, said it looked likely that Camden would allow the work, but added:  “If this proposal is approved it will be a declaration that our heritage and the preservation of the conservation area are vanishingly low on their list of priorities.”

He added:  “This is a site of special significance, facing a square to the priceless heritage assets of King’s Cross station and St Pancras. Despite this, the proposal manages to be both crass and banal, highly inappropriate in scale, design and materials and completely oblivious to its setting. It could just as well be on a roundabout in Milton Keynes.”

The Friends of Argyle Square, the King’s Cross Conservation Area Advisory Committee, the Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group and the Bloomsbury Association are also all objecting.

“The proposed building towers over the surrounding Georgian terraces and buildings and the 10-storey height clearly flies in the face of Camden’s own recommendations that any development on the site should respond to the height of the surrounding three to six-storey buildings,” said Mr Cullum.

Precis planning director Faaiza Lalji said they felt their proposals would add “to the historic importance of the area”, adding: “We will continue to work with local groups, businesses and residents to ensure that not only the Knowledge Quarter benefits from this, but also the community.”

The applicants say the building will be green, include step-free access to the tube station and lead to improved public space.

It includes redeveloping Acorn House, in nearby Gray’s Inn Road, to provide 33 new affordable homes as part of the deal.

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