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EH goes for 'conservationist approach' at King's Cross

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Conservationists at English Heritage (eh) are drawing up alternative plans for part of Europe's biggest inner city regeneration project at King's Cross rail lands.

The move is aimed at putting pressure on developers such as p&o Property Holdings and Argent St George working on the site. Argent was picked to lead a consortium on a £1 billion development to create a new urban quarter and transport hub earlier this month, which would include the channel tunnel rail link, on the disused lands behind King's Cross and St Pancras stations.

But eh wants to see a conservationist and regenerative approach to historic buildings on the 12ha site. At the beginning of this month the heritage body appointed architects Urban Initiatives to produce alternatives to the demolition of a string of eighteenth and nineteenth century industrial buildings on the edge of the site. Rolfe Judd has drawn up plans, with developer p&o, to build a new 350-room hotel for Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and a 7,000m2 headquarters for the General Medical Council. The plans were submitted to the London Borough of Islington in February.

This marks the first parcel of land on the King's Cross site to be submitted for planning and eh is keen to ensure that a conservationist approach sets a precedent for the larger development.

'This is just the opening shot,' said eh conservation and regeneration advisor, Martin O'Rouke. 'These are extraordinary industrial buildings sited around cobbled courtyards and there is so much potential for creating a new world with new buildings on this site that we need a regenerative approach to the existing buildings.'

eh is planning to submit its alternative plans to Islington planning department within weeks and has been in talks with p&o and Judd over ways of making their plans more sensitive to the area's status as a conservation area.

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