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It's better - but still not enough

PUBLISHED: 12:35 07 October 2005 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 September 2010

Revised plans for the £2billion King's Cross development have met with mixed feelings from local community groups. New designs unveiled on Saturday show an increase in housing and open space, together with the inclusion of community facilit

Katie Davies

Revised plans for the £2billion King's Cross development have met with mixed feelings from local community groups.

New designs unveiled on Saturday show an increase in housing and open space, together with the inclusion of community facilities, a primary school and eco-friendly projects.

But many still think developer Argent hasn't gone far enough.

James Goodwin, King's Cross Development Trust chairman, said: "The open space and the public areas have gone some way forward.

"But I still think there is a need for more - especially in the northern area of the site.

"They have also put the children's play area in a location far away from the schools and most of the houses."

Diana Shelley, the Cally rail group chairwoman, said: "There is still high over-development.

"The housing has increased but it depends on what it looks like to see if it is positive or not - the buildings are still very high.

"Everyone thinks it looks nice now. But we've got to think what it will look like in 20 or 30 years' time."

Two areas that will be landmark public spaces on the site are Granary Square and Pancras Square, which Argent describes as the "gateway to the new development".

Both will be pedestrian-only zones, with outdoor seating areas, and Pancras Square will have a water feature welcoming visitors from across the country and Europe to London.

But many residents are frustrated because the plans are not yet complete.

Satnam Gill, King's Cross Development Forum chairman, said: "We've been waiting for a long time and I am pleased that some of the things we've been pushing for have been recognised.

"Forty per cent of the housing is affordable - but we would prefer that to be social housing provided through a housing association for poor people and families.

"You can be earning £40,000 and qualify for affordable housing. "They have committed to providing a primary school which is important and a health centre which is important because surgeries are oversubscribed in Camden.

"But they said they would introduce an employment and training programme and it's really important that local people get jobs on the site.

"We want more information on that. It's really central to the success of the development site that local people are employed on it.

"We are also still waiting for the 3D model which will show all these heights and give us a better impression of what it's like to walk through."

Bill Lehm, King's Cross Development Forum vice-chairman, said: "We are still waiting for confirmation about whether there is going to be a river tram or not.

"It's a Transport for London decision but Argent has to prepare alternatives which frustrates the process and means some of the plans won't be relevant."

The key community groups are meeting every Monday and Thursday for the next two weeks to explore the plans in detail.

After the consultation period Camden and Islington councils can either agree planning permission, send Argent back to the drawing board or refuse the plans.

Individuals who want to respond have to make their submissions to Camden Council by Friday November 11.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk

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