King's Cross

Severe setbacks at King’s Cross this spring.

Easter 2006
I don’t think blogging suits me: months have passed since I last wrote. A lot has been going on but I seem to be busy doing the work, and not at all inclined to write about it in the blog. Yet another reason for thinking I’ll never be Tony Benn.

Sitting here now in the countryside, with my email not working (UCL server somehow not compatible with Mac OS 10.4?) I have a sort of desert island feeling.

The main events have been on King’s Cross, reasonably well documented on . First of all, Camden Council’s Development Control Sub-Committee on 8 and 9 March considered the planning applications from Argent plc and gave permission. The Council had imposed the most extraordinary (to me) ban on communication between citizens and elected councillors who were members of that committee in the weeks leading up to that meeting. Then for the meeting itself they were all sent a 900-page report a couple of weeks ahead, and a corrected and modified version a week ahead and then a supplementary agenda on the day. They were supposed to digest this stuff.

Then, on the day. they heard statements by more than 20 deputations including us from KXRLG. All were opposed in various ways to the Argent scheme except for one Tory councillor from the GLA and a vicar who stood up, saying he was speaking on behalf of the King’s Cross Development Forum and delivered a rose-tinted gloss on the responses elicited by that Forum – quite at odds with the submission actually made by the Forum through its proper (but weak) machinery. But the predominant sense was of a lot of citizens resisting the gentrification and corporate transformation of their area, reluctant to see the land on which so many hopes had been pinned be now made over for corporate offices interspersed with some Starbucks. The whole (2 evenings) is available for download as a video at and the committee papers are there as well.

Some of the councillors behaved nobly, or at least conscientiously, notably Flick Rea and the indefatigable Brian Woodrow. But the meeting was cajoled to a brisk conclusion and ended up voting 8:7 and 9:6 in favour of the scheme.

This was all subject to the Mayor’s power of veto and the power of the Secretary of State to over-ride the decision and hold a public inquiry. Both have now decided not to act so there is now very little chance of this scheme being subjected to any serious scrutiny at all. I had to do a short talk about this to the Planning Research Conference here at the Bartlett and did so. I’ll attach a link to it ASAP.

Author: Editors


One thought on “King's Cross”

  1. Michael, my first ever visit to any blog. Im’ specially interested in the KX updates. I’m still a member of the KXRLG and just hope that something will happen to overturn the argent scheme. Any hopes?
    See you soon, Richard
    Reaction from Michael Edwards: Richard thanks. It is good to know that the world still has its eye on King’s Cross. There are three avenues of hope (though let’s be realistic because all the real power is stacked up in favour of the present awful scheme). (i) Islington council, considering the little triangle which is in their borough, demanded some changes, notably a reduction from 246 to 200 housing units in an area surrounded by railway tracks and hardly suitable for hoousing at all. This could trigger a re-think of the whole scheme by Camden council which (ii) following the local elections of early May 2006 is now no longer run by extremist Blairites dazzled by the glow of capital. The new council had more “liberal democrat” councillors than any other group, + some greens and might be willing to re-consider the whole thing. (iii) The procedures followed in the earlier decision process in March stink and it is just possible that a re-think could appear necessary anyway. There will soon be a petition to sign and signatures from fellow ‘global cities’ will be very welcome. Michael


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