Station house demolition sorrow as flats bid emerges

Planning chiefs asked to approve application for eight private homes

Friday, 1st July — By Anna Lamche

Junction Road Screenshot 2022-06-29 at 13.56.10

How the new block of flats would look

LESS than a year after the controversial demolition of a “delightful” stationmaster’s house, property developers have asked for permission to build new private flats on the site.

The well-loved Victorian building at 156 Junction Road, Tufnell Park, was flattened last summer, sparking debate about what could have been done to save it from the wrecking ball.

Adrian Betham, of the Better Archway Forum (BAF), described the house as “delightful”, adding: “It was Victorian romantic railway architecture, a miniature villa, with a monkey puzzle tree in the front garden.”

A five-storey red-brick building has now been proposed to Islington Council’s planning tsars as a replacement.

The new building would contain eight mainly two-bedroom flats, with a view to potentially developing the neighbouring site “in due course,” according to planning documents.

As the proposals would deliver fewer than 10 units, the building is classed as a “minor development”, therefore the developers would not have to include any affordable housing into their plans.

Instead they have pledged to make a contribution of £400,000 to the council towards affordable housing elsewhere.

A company called Tufnell Park Investments LLP is behind the new scheme, with architect Amit Green of Cubitt Greystock named as the applicant.

Cubitt Greystock, which Mr Green runs alongside chartered surveyor Stephen Bellau, is a company which aims “to make the listed buildings of the future.”

At the time of the demolition, planning documents show the house was knocked down despite structural engineers finding the building was safe and habitable.

The old station master’s house building, which was demolished last August

It did not have the protection of a listing, but BAF’s Kate Calvert said: “We don’t believe there was any other building like it left.”

Quoting architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner, Ms Calvert said: “History seen around you in the street is infinitely more eloquent than history that has to be searched out in libraries and museums.”

According to Ms Calvert, “there were all sorts of stories” about the house, which had been built before the 1890s and embodied the last vestiges of the historic Junction Road railway station that closed in 1942. Ms Calvert said the building had also been home to Dr Richard Beeching’s chauf­feur.

“When you knock things like that down, you lose the texture of a place,” she said.

Commenting on the proposals for the replacement, Ms Calvert said: “They’re building mostly one- and two-bedroom flats. There’s an oversupply of these flats – those looking to buy don’t want one- or two-bedroom flats, the demand is for family homes.”

Meanwhile, Ben Oakley of the national heritage campaign charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which had campaigned to preserve the station master’s house, said: “We’re disappointed that the applicant chose to demolish the building and apply for planning permission separately.

“We fought to protect and save the historic Victorian villa that did stand there, which was structurally sound and a rare survival of Islington history.”

Mr Green said: “This part of Junction Road comprises a varied mix of different buildings and architectural styles. Our design is a simple and robust adaptation of the traditional design heritage of Tufnell Park housing styles.

“We believe our design responds appropriately to its context and that it will be a positive addition, providing an urban ­heritage of our own age which future generations will treasure – this is our aim on every development that we do.”

He added: “Prior to removal of the building, all the required processes and procedures were followed, every appropriate step was taken to consult with relevant parties including Historic England.

“The site is a cleared plot of land adjacent to a derelict cab rank – both plots need regeneration. We have taken great care to develop a proposal that the community will be proud of and which we believe satisfies the various requirements of Islington’s Development Plan.”

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