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Agenda item

Times House and Laundry Buildings (4-6 Bravingtons Walk, 8 Caledonian Street and part ground floor area of 3 Bravingtons Walk) Laundry Yard and part of Caledonia Street, Regent Quarter, Kings Cross, , London, N1 9AW


Refurbishment of existing buildings; partial demolition and infill extensions to the southern, northern courtyard and western elevations at ground, first, second, third and fourth floor level and part one, part two storey roof extensions to provide additional Class E(g)(i) Office floorspace at Times House; removal of plant room and entrance, alteration to the elevations and enlargement of existing windows to Laundry Building; further works include the provision of one flexible Retail (Class E(a)), Café Restaurant (Class E(b)), Fitness (Class E(d)) and Office (Class E (g)(i) unit, three flexible Food and Drink (Class E (b)) and/or Bar/Drinking Establishment (Sui Generis) units, and four Retail (Class E (a)) units at ground floor level; provision of outdoor terraces at first, fourth and fifth floor levels, basement cycle storage and associated facilities, green roofs, plant at basement and roof level; public realm works to Laundry Yard and infrastructure and related works, and new cycle parking on Caledonia Street.


(Planning application number: P2021/2269/FUL)

Cllr Picknell leaves prior to the consideration of this item and was not involved in the deliberations at all


In the discussion the following points were made:

·       Meeting was advised that since the publication of the report, 2 additional comments from residents have been received and that no new material planning issues have been raised.

·       The Planning officer highlighted a number of following corrections to the report, that at paragraph 10.23 of the report, the Affordable Housing Contribution should read as £229,813 rather than the £234,413.33 stated in the report and the height of the plant structure on the top of the west wing of Times House would rise to 24.3m rather than 24.8m and the top of east wing plant structure to Times House would rise to 24.85m rather than 21.85m.

·       Meeting was advised that following further review of the daylight assessment, a number of  corrections need to made to the total figures, that at paragraph 10.269 on page 522 of the report, 84 rather than 80 windows were assessed and 54 rather than 51 rooms were assessed.

·       It was also noted that minor reductions in the number of rooms that would fail the BRE Guidance is down to 5.56% rather than 5.9%.

·       Also on paragraph 10.276 of page 524 of the report, at 11 Caledonian Road, 6 windows and 6 rooms were assessed rather than 3 windows and 3 rooms, and that 5 out of the 6 windows would meet the BRE guidance rather than 2 of 3 windows.

·       Meeting was advised that site is part of the Regents quarter estate and located within the city block known as Block and comprises of Times House which is a mixed use building on the eastern and southern elevations to Laundry Buildings which is also a mixed use buildings located on the northern and western elevations.

·       Site is located within the Kings Cross Conservation Area and lies adjacent to the Keystone Crescent Conservation Area to the east and the St Pancras Conservation Area which is located to the west of the site. The site boundary sits adjacent to the Grade II Listed Building at 7 Caledonian Road and within the setting of Grade I listed Building at Kings Cross Station.

·       Members were advised that the Laundry Buildings is Locally Listed Grade B and there are numerous locally listed buildings surrounding the site on York way, Caledonian Road and Pentoville Road.

·       Site is located within the Central Activities Zone and is in an Employment Growth Area.

·       The proposal involves various extensions, alterations and changes of use to the commercial units Laundry Yard and will create 1,723.6sqm of additional office (g)(i) through extensions and internal alterations to Times House. This is largely provided through the combination of partial demolition, infill extension and roof terraces to create additional office floor space at first to fifth floor levels , with roof terraces at first,fourth and fifth floors under Class E (to the alteration of the existing building to Times House and creation of roof terraces to first floor and fifth floor levels and creation of green roofs.

·       External alterations is proposed to the Laundry Buildings and that internally, change of use is proposed to both resulting in mixed uses in class E and Sui Generis. 

·       With the proposed affordable work space, a separate s106 agreement would be attached to the permission if granted however in light of the the committee to defer the earlier application, this provision will be on this site.

·       Members were advised that based on the head of terms, if the application was refused, 5% of the affordable workspace provision is to be secured for this site which would be policy compliant within this particular application site.

·       In terms of Land use as the scheme will result in additional office floor space within the King Cross Economic Growth Area and Central Activities Zone both of which promote office floor space.

·       The inclusion of flexible class E office retail, cafe restaurants finish uses on ground floor of Laundry Building will seek to provide additional active ancillary uses to the predominantly office use.

·       Members were advised that whilst the flexible commercial uses do not generate same level of employment as the office floor space it is welcomed for the functionality of the CAZ and will point positively to economic growth.

·       The proposed alterations will also add flexible office space to the ground floor and this accords which accords with the council land use policies.

·       In terms of design the scheme, the Planning Officer informed committee that the scheme has undergone a detailed design assessment including a series of design workshops at pre application stage and two presentations to the Design Review Panel who have express their support for the scheme.

·       In addition to the design review panel comments, officers have given consideration to the design,height, mass and scale of the scheme and on balance the scheme would cause less harm than substantial harm to the Kings Cross conservation area and the adjacent heritage assets including the grade 1 kings cross station and the grade 2 listed building at 7 Caledonia road.

·       Members were advised that officers have therefore taken a balancing exercise to weigh the less substantial harm against the public benefits.

·       In terms of neighbouring amenity, meeting was advised that a detailed assessment on daylight and sun light loss , outlook enclosure ,privacy and overlooking have been undertaken.

·       Meeting was advised that quantitatively a small number of windows and rooms will fail to meet BRE Guidance and that those that fail are minimal which officers consider acceptable due to the central urban context.

·       Conditions are proposed to mitigate the impacts on neighbouring amenity in terms of light spillage or noise from plant equipment noise and that there is an operational management plan for the plant and for the use of the roof terraces and restrictions have been proposed to the hours of operations.

·       The scheme will provide 105 secured cycle spaces and associated facilities in the basement of Times House, visitor parking is provided in terms of 25 short stay cycle stands comprising of 9 stands within Times House and Bravington’s walk ,12 on Caledonia street and 4 additional stands on Caledonian Road.

·       In terms of security within the block B , the existing gates are consented to be opened to Caledonian street and York way between hours as stated in the report. Cycling is prohibited within the courtyard

·       In terms of energy and sustainability the proposal brings in a number of measures such as a 45.8% reduction in regulated C02 emissions and a contribution of £145,176 towards offsetting the remaining co2 emissions.

·       The scheme meets a BREEAM rating which is to be secured by a condition and another condition is recommended requiring further exploration of potential improvements to ensure energy efficiency and another condition stating that the scheme to connect to a District Energy Network when available, and finally the scheme seeks to use Air source pumps rather than gas boilers.

·       In terms of planning balance, meeting was advised that although officers note the less than substantial harm to the heritage assets, it is noted that the scheme does bring forward a number of public benefits as outlined in the report in particular the uplift in commercial floor space to support growth and development in the borough, the provision of a flexible active use unit fronting onto York way, substantial affordable housing contributions and  contribution towards public realm.

·       Planning obligations as detailed in the report include working with local schools and energy improvements so officer consider that in overall planning balance terms that the scheme public benefits outweigh the less than substantial harm to the adjacent listed building and the conservation areas.

·       On the question about the Affordable workspace, that it was dependent on permission being granted for the other site (Jahn Court), the Legal officer clarified that presently the head of terms require that for both applications, the one previously deferred and this present application, the affordable workspace will be provided at 34b York Way. As the other deferred application had not yet been granted  alternative provision generated by this application could potentially be made within this site rather than on the other site. The legal Officer acknowledge that it is unusual to have the provision of affordable workspace for one application site provided on another site, but not unheard of.

·       In response to a question on whether the 10% uplift of the provision of Affordable floor space is available on both sites, the planning officer stated that the 10% uplift is across both sites.

·       An objector living in Joiners yard which is directly adjacent to the proposed east site of Times house acknowledged the objections raised with the Jahn Court application and was concerned that a huge developer could buy properties so as to maximise the office space, that the interests of the neighbouring residents was not taken on board and not part of the process until at a later stage. Objector questioned the need for additional office space ,as there were numerous buildings that had vacant and empty offices.

·       The additional floors were huge and there were concerns around the daylight and sunlight impact on neighbouring residents, loss of privacy and disruption. Concerns within the committee report which states that the development is less than 15m away from residential properties and the argument that development can be permitted if it across the highway is not applicable.

·       The proposed improvement to the public realm is welcomed, however the massing in the area is unwelcome as it is huge.

·       Another objector speaking on behalf of residents was concerned with the height and its impact and the false drawings. Noted that considering the vision for the developments states that it will cater for the needs of local residents and business and visitors, there has not been any community engagement demonstrated.

·       Residents were only allowed a short period of engagement and presented with lots of documentation which have addressed none of the resident’s concerns, that this is not a recipe for good design outcomes. The proposal does not address concerns of local businesses struggling after 3 years of Covid pandemic with the result that some have gone bust with empty offices for over two years

·       Objector questioned how small independent restaurant businesses on the Caledonian Road were going to compete with equity firms and chain restaurants, that this is not a level playing field

·       A resident was concerned that considering the huge number of people traffic in the area, and the entrance being difficult to see with no line of sight visible from the station, that it will be difficult to attract people to the inner courtyards and importantly challenging for retail or other business ventures to survive within the block 

·       Resident was also concerned that the proposal will plunge the place into darkness and feel less welcoming and unsafe, that this public amenity space will be lost for ever. 

·       Another resident representing the residents of Keystone objected to the scheme on the grounds of its unsympathetic design to the extension, that the opening of the development is less than 30 m from neighbouring residential grade 2 listed building. Members were reminded that this is a designated conservation area and the scheme makes no attempt to fit in with the surrounding Victorian built area in character or design

·       Neighbouring resident was concerned that the design of the building is overbearing and overshadows nearby residential homes and therefore affecting the character or the area

·       There was concern that this scheme will result in an the increase in footfall and furthermore attract anti-social behaviour and associated noise, traffic and disturbances will increase in the area with the increasing number of food and drink outlets in the area

·       Concerns that the noise plan associated with the scheme had not been thought out properly as the scheme would impact the amenity of neighbouring residents

·       In response , the meeting was informed by the applicant that members should consider the scheme to be a well-designed one, that the scheme will result in the repositioning of the building, reflect the dramatic change across the Kings Cross area in the last 15 years . Members were advised that the scheme will address the vacant building after the previous tenant Euro Star left the premises and that one of the reasons is the lack product design which the scheme aims to address.

·       Meeting was advised that a wide range of public consultation has been carried out throughout the process via notifying the residents, website launch to inform the public of the proposals and regular newsletter were provided. In addition webinars were hosted, Q&A sessions were held and 4 public meetings were scheduled on site and 25 one to one meetings were held for residents to discuss concerns of residents. In addition residents were also provided with bespoke daylight sunlight reports to consider their individual impacts

·       In terms of wider consultation the team met with wide range of community groups including the learning and knowledge quarter and local schools . The consequences of these public consultations changes have resulted in changes to the scheme and certain commitments which include reducing the height of Times House by 0.5m, reducing the 5th floor elevation of Caledonian street by 3.3m , providing an active frontage and street improvements to York way which will be facilitated by a financial contribution of £75k to widen the pavement along York way and also consider other improvements to lactive the frontage. Also a mixed unit has been introduced to the scheme on York way

·       Other commitments include to work with security consultants to review the security measures on site and will be taking forward a number of community initiatives

·       In terms of overlooking windows of the third floor north side of the building facing Joiners yard, meeting was advised that as part of the proposal, windows around that particular elevation will be positioned further away and obscured which will be an improvement to the current position

·       In terms of daylight impact, assessment has been undertaken and it is evident that with regard to Times and Laundry building results show that in terms of BRE guidelines, they are good in policy terms and that breaches are minor and slightly above 20%

·       In terms of sunlight impact, meeting was advised that there are no transgressions and are within BRE standards and that the same position and situation in terms of the courtyard, that any loss is negligible and comply with BRE standards

·       In terms of public benefits , the agent reiterated that the scheme will be bringing forward significant benefits that will outweigh any significant harm to the heritage assets in the area and they include an increase in 1723 sqm of floor space provided within CAZ which optimises office floor space . Also there will be a commitment to contribute provide affordable work office space , noting that the applicant is willing to commit to the delivery of 10% office floor space on this the site in lieu of it being provided on the Jahnn site if possible

·       Also there will significant CIL contributions and S106 contributions of £850k contribution towards offsite affordable housing

·       In terms of building materials, meeting was advised that this is primarily in  Times House which is a contemporary building, that it will retain the existing structure as much as possible for sustainable reasons , introducing a new permeable ground floor and introducing an articulated green metal cladding to complement the red brick.

·       On the lack of consultation with residents and in particular concerns about the schemes impact on heritage assets, the agent advised that in heritage terms it is notable that on site there are 2 locally listed buildings which are being retained sensitively refurbishing with minimal changes and where there is an attempt to improve, it is about improving ground floor permeability and removal of railings to York way and re cladding of the glass entrance block to give it more of a contextual and significant entrance to that block.

·       In addition meeting was advised that with regards to height of building, although there is an increase in height, there is significant step back to minimise the street view and to reduce the wider impact of the eastern block with the plant being set back by 40m from Caledonian street.

·       On the 10% uplift being proposed the agent acknowledged that it would be across both sites, that overall the scheme will be delivering 400sqm of floor space and that with the provision of the hub, that it would be 10% from each site, that the equivalent on this site would be 220sqm.

·       The Chair indicated that members find themselves in the similar situation to the previous Jahn Court application as they are closely interrelated and have similar issues.

·       A suggestion to defer the application was agreed, that committee would like some of the issues raised be assessed, that the applicants need to moderate the excess of the height, and that it was being  deferred on a design basis and not just the impact on a conservation basis.


Councillor Convery proposed a motion to Defer. This was seconded by Councillor Klute and carried.





That consideration of the application be deferred for the reasons outlined above.


Supporting documents: