49 - 50 Eagle Wharf Road N1 7ED (Holborn Studios)

Holborn Studios

2015/2596 - 21 Nov 2015

2015/2596 FULL PLANNING PERMISSION - Partial demolition of existing buildings, retention of 3 storey building and former industrial chimney and redevelopment of the site to provide a mixed use scheme comprising blocks of 2 to 7 storeys and accommodating 4,393 sq. m, of commercial floorspace at basement, ground, part first floor and part second floor level, 64 residential units at part first, part second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth floor levels (proposed mix is 28 X 1 bed, 21 X 2 bed, 13 X 3 bed, 2 X 4 bed) as well as 253 sq. m. cafe floorspace (A3) at ground floor level, landscaped communal gardens, pedestrian link route to the Regents Canal and other associated works.

The Hackney Society Planning Group makes the following observations:

The proposals for redevelopment of the Holborn Studios complex is broadly acceptable in terms of scale and massing, and contains improved access to the canal frontage and seeks to retain the best of the existing buildings and the chimney. Although in doing so it loses some historical context and creates some poor-quality accommodation. In addition, the principle of redevelopment is predicated upon intensification of the site to the detriment of the highly sustainable, and culturally- and economically-beneficial existing use. It's a balance that we are not convinced, supports redevelopment.

1 The loss of 693 sq m of workspace is considerable and the scheme could support a larger working population on the site. This would in turn assist the viability of site facilities (such as the cafe), which might otherwise struggle at a location that is hemmed in by the canal, invisible from Eagle Wharf Road and difficult to access via public transport. There is also a viable business on the site at present, Holborn Studios, who we understand do not want to move out. They have brought a highly sustainable use and significant cultural heritage to the site over its 26 years of operation. While the new plans show a re-provision of studio space we understand the space to be provided is not suitable for the current tenant. It seems likely that the scheme could provide the right kind of accommodation to rehouse the existing tenant, which would be beneficial to the development and the wider Borough. We would like to see considerably more effort made by the developer to retain the current creative hub by accommodating Holborn Studios and their sub-tenants.

2 We acknowledge the urban design intention of creating a series of small courtyards knitted together into a complex and intimate network of urban spaces. However the site is compromised because the street facade is south facing and the main point of interest - the canal - is to the north. This means the scale of the buildings to the south will put the external spaces within the site into shade most of the time, an issue that is exacerbated by the small scale of the access courtyards and the continuous wall of building to Eagle Wharf Road. This arrangement also means that there is no view through to the canal from the street and passers by will not be aware of the canal side public space and encouraged into it. The use of a single, more generous, and more formal central courtyard might solve a number of these issues.

3 The internal planning of the housing blocks is problematic. There are long internal corridors without daylighting which would be unattractive and contrary to the London Housing Design Guide. There are also a large number of single aspect flats, including 2 and 3 bed flats, and some north facing single aspect units. For instance, the second floor plan shows 10 out of 23 flats are single aspect (or virtually single aspect) of which 3 are north facing single aspect. Of the single aspect flats, 4 of the 10 are 2 and 3 bedroom flats. The block to the east of the site is planned entirely with single aspect flats with long institutional style, daylight-free corridors. This is contrary the planning amenity standards and will create low quality living accommodation.

4 We are unconvinced by some aspects of the detailed massing and feel the forms of the new buildings are over complex. In particular the set backs to Eagle Wharf Road were considered arbitrary and unexplained. There were also reservations about a lack of order to the elevations and concern that the choice of materials was over complex.

5 The retention of the existing chimney was welcomed but it was felt that the loss of the surrounding building at it’s base caused the retained element to lose its context and appears diminished as a result. This is acknowledged to an extent in the design proposals where the plan shape of the building is shown in the paving design but the visual effect of the chimney would be stronger if it were still rooted in the existing building.

Our comments on the principle of redevelopment are echoed in our remarks on the previous scheme 2012/3923 2013/0032 dated 20 March 2013.


This page was added on 21/11/2015.