published by Islington Tribune
4 April, 2014 by DAN CARRIER
A LEAKED letter from a government design quango heaping praise on controversial plans to redevelop the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office site has been heavily criticised by civic groups.
The letter to architects Dp9, from Alan Thompson, the head of design review at the Design Council and their partners the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, is supportive of the scheme.
But Edward Denison, of the Mount Pleasant Association (MPA), says community groups have not been consulted and that the letter shows a disregard for the needs of people living nearby.
The planning application for the site, which would see 700 homes built – with just 81 categorised as “affordable” – was dismissed by both Camden and Islington Councils. It straddles the border of both boroughs but has since been handed over to London Mayor Boris Johnson to make the final decision.
The leaked letter, sent to the MPA, dates from last April.
Mr Denison said: “Mr Thompson’s letter reads like satire. One may well ask how his position could be so contrary to widespread local and professional opinion.”
“Another point of serious concern is the lack of any attempt to engage the local community, yet they claim on their website that ‘Great design can change lives, communities and organisations for the better. It can create better places to live, and bring communities together’.
“How can such statements be anything but empty soundbites if the organisation that makes these claims does not even engage the communities they claim to be improving?”
The letter finds niggles with areas such as making the project 100 per cent car free, and adds that gardens and a meadow will require careful maintenance programmes to ensure they remain as the architects have envisioned.