FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is included in the site?

The existing site consists of a redundant 1980’s office building on Kentish Town Road. This is in close proximity to Camden Town tube station at Britannia Junction. It will be located adjacent to the upcoming Camden Town tube station entrance & exit on Buck Street. The site is also close to Sainsbury’s superstore on Camden Road, the Grand Union Walk canal-side houses and St Michael’s Church (all Grade II listed).​​​​​​

Why is redevelopment of Grand Union House necessary?

The existing building is not fit for purpose and does not meet modern office occupier requirements. It makes little contribution to the character of Camden Town or its economy. Specifically, the ground floor is  largely inactive space which has become a focus for relentless anti-social behaviour.

What are the updated proposals?

The new designs by 6a architects include:

  • An exemplar of sustainable development, reusing and adapting the existing building structure.
  • Over 5000sqm of office space across 6 floors.
  • At least 400 jobs will be -supported as part of the proposals.
  • Six residential units.
  • Over 300sqm of retail or café space at the ground floor.
  • This will target BREEAM Outstanding rating.
  • We will provide a significant contribution towards the CIL and annual business rates to LB Camden.

We are also working with Sainsbury’s on a collaborative approach to improve the public realm spaces around our site and supermarket yard. These proposals will form part of a separate application, but will include:

  • Environmental and ecological benefits of: Creating a healthy, green and biodiverse environment for the development and its surroundings (planting & sustainable urban drainage).
  • Highly accessible: Creating a unified approach to improve pedestrian connections and comfort across the site (Homogenous ground material, flush kerbs, raised platforms for pedestrian crossing, etc.)
  • Increased security: Increasing visibility across the site, from Kentish Town road to the Sainsburys’ yard, active frontages and better lighting.
How have the proposals changed since the previous scheme was consulted on in 2018/2019?

The building appearance and façade treatment now is more in keeping to its context. The main changes include:

  • A proposed architectural façade language, which is more sensitive to our newly listed neighbours and is a modern interpretation of ‘High-tech’ architecture.
  • We have replaced the retail kiosks on the ground floor with a dual aspect double height workspace hall.
  • We are proposing to relocate ground floor residents parking into a secure underground facility – removing inactive spaces that have attracted anti-social behaviour. This will aim to create visual connections from the street through the building to the rear yard.

Like the 2018 design, this proposal continues to offer six residential homes to the southern end of the site.

Why have the proposals changed?

Back in 2018 there was an attempt to list Grand Union House, Sainsbury’s and Grand Union Walk houses. This led to Historic England undertaking an analysis of the site, which paused our planning application with Camden Council.

The outcome was that Historic England listed the Sainsbury’s supermarket and Grand Union Walk houses. However, Grand Union House was not listed due to it not being of the same architectural significance. In light of this, the design approach has been rethought and refreshed to be more sensitive to our newly listed neighbours.

Which buildings have been listed for their heritage importance and why?

The purpose of the national heritage list is to protect historically and architecturally important buildings for the future. Historic England were asked to consider listing the Sainsbury’s store, 1-12 Grand Union Walk and Grand Union House. They took the decision to list the first two at Grade II in July 2019, but not the Grand Union House building. All form part of a successful mixed-use scheme.  The design marked a turning point in the career of Nicholas Grimshaw, one of the country’s leading proponents of High-Tech architecture.

They took the view that the Sainsbury’s store is a powerful piece of contextual inner-city High-Tech architecture, which successfully integrates its overtly modern aesthetic into Camden’s historic grain. Similarly, they decided that the High-Tech architecture of the terraced housing is a rare style for this type of building, and that Nicholas Grimshaw’s design exploited the canal-side setting with “humour and panache”.  In short, they felt that both are successful parts of an ambitious mixed-use scheme.

Although Grand Union House is part of the overall site with which it shares many characteristics, forming part of the group is not sufficient in itself to warrant listing – each building must stand on its own merit.  Grand Union House was not listed because Historic England took the view that the long frontage is insufficiently articulated in relation to its length. In layman’s terms that means there is not enough detail and interest. With most of the ground floor given over to surface parking, they felt that the building does not fulfil its potential either aesthetically or spatially. It was considered to be the least successful element, architecturally and functionally, in the complex.

Will there be any housing as part of the site?

Yes. We are proposing 6 new homes, including 3 one-bed and 3 two-bed units.

Will the terraces be public access or for the commercial occupants?

The terraces will be accessed only by commercial occupants and will be limited in space for social gatherings. The third floor will offer a Contemplation Garden to the south of the site with densely planted foliage. The fourth floor has numerous ‘pocket’ gardens along the perimeter of the building for moments of connection to nature. The terraces are unsuitable in size and shape for large social gatherings.

How much office space will be provided?

We are proposing over 5000sqm of office space.

What sort of businesses will this space accommodate?

We expect that the space will be taken by creative, tech or media businesses that are attracted to the vibrant character of Camden Town. We are in advanced discussions with a possible tenant who would like to lease all the space offered.

Whilst the tenant is confidential at this moment, we can say that they are a growing digital creative agency who are already based in the borough. This move would benefit Camden by retaining hundreds of jobs within the borough.

Is there still a need for office buildings with everyone now working from home?

Whilst the nature of office work may change, we believe businesses and workers will still want to collaborate and share ideas in person.

Places like Camden Town are likely to be more attractive for this because of the cultural and amenity benefits in the area. These add value to prospective tenants and help in the recruitment and retention of staff.

We are confident that there is interest of this kind of office space given we have already received strong interest from potential occupiers.

How many new jobs will be created?

Based on the scale of office area created, this building could support between 400-500 new jobs. The tenant interest we have received to date would maximise the job creation on site.

Is there an opportunity for local contractors to be involved?

We do not have a principal contractor signed up yet although Mace have advised us on construction aspects due to their comprehensive experience in this sector. There will be an opportunity for local contractors to bid in due course.

What is the timetable for construction?

We anticipate the entire construction period to take around 18-20 months. This timescale is fairly rapid and is thanks to a high degree of re-use of the existing structure and pre-fabrication of elements off-site.

What is your plan for construction management?

We will be working closely with an established general contractor to ensure site logistics, safety and management are optimised for this build and minimise disruption to our neighbours.

How will the building be heated?

Electrically powered air source heat pumps will heat the residential buildings.

In the commercial space, roof mounted VRF units running on electricity will manage building heating and cooling. The design will encourage natural ventilation in the shoulder seasons but can also be mechanically ventilated for the height of summer.

There is no gas in the project which helps us target a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

Who will be responsible for cleanliness and maintenance?

All commercial spaces will incur some form of service charge which would allow for  the provision of maintenance, cleaning and gardening services.

How will foliage differ by season and who will be responsible for its maintenance?

The development uses mostly native species with a broad palette of vegetation. There will be a mix of deciduous and evergreen, and thus a change in colour throughout the year. The Greenhouse will have an indoor environment with more exotic planting – particularly evergreen – so the effect will be permanent across the year.

There will be a collaborative approach with Sainsbury’s, Highways England and the planners at London Borough of Camden to ensure all aspects of maintenance are covered.

How will the development interact with the proposed Camden Highline?

We are doing our part to ensure the proposed green changes to the public realm on Kentish Town Road offer the missing piece which connects the centre of Camden Town (at Britannia Junction), to the start of the Camden Highline.

Will the site include underground parking?

We only propose to relocate the existing residential parking spaces (assigned to Grand Union Walk houses) to the basement car park. As part of the regeneration of the area, Sainsbury’s wish to upgrade and refurbish their existing basement car park to improve the quality of their customer experience.

What is the impact on cyclists?

We propose to widen the pavement and add a ribbon of planting, however the removal of parking spaces means space for cycling is maintained. The site will also include secure cycle parking for the commercial & residential spaces as well as welfare areas to encourage those to travel to work via sustainable means.

What is the shade profile for Grand Union Walk and what is the impact on neighbours?

We have undertaken comprehensive daylight and sunlight report for our closest residential neighbours and these can be supplied on request for review.

What conversations have you had with Camden Council so far?

We have been working closely with Camden Council officers on our plans for the site since the Summer/Autumn of 2017. We have received positive support for the scheme to date.

How can I provide feedback on the plans?

We would welcome you to leave a comment via the sign-up page or email grandunionhouse@fourcommunications.com to let us know your views. We will try to respond to all questions and requests and a Statement of Community Involvement has been submitted along with our planning application.

How is COVID-19 affecting your plans?

Covid-19 has created delays and challenges for us, but we have adapted quickly and are working closely with Camden Council to make sure that they do not affect our planning timetable.

The pandemic also means that we cannot do face-to-face consultation. We have moved all our consultation online, supported by newsletters and advertising, and we will keep looking at ways to make sure that everyone has a chance to be involved if they are interested in our plans.

Is the development COVID-proof?

Pandemics like Covid-19 are historically infrequent. Nevertheless, we have made several changes to our design, these include:

  • Ample indoor and outdoor green spaces for breakout working,
  • Provision of natural ventilation via openable windows,
  • Flexible workspace allowing many configurations to suit user’s needs,
  • Provision of automatic and touchless doors and sanitaryware wherever possible.

If you have any further questions then please get in touch with us here.