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Mount Pleasant objectors unveil 'viable' alternative

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The Mount Pleasant Association (MPA) has won £150,000 from the mayor’s Community Right to Build fund to lodge its own planning application for the Royal Mail site

Last week the local community group and social enterprise Create Streets co-hosted an event to present their alternative plans to the already approved £12 million Royal Mail scheme for the central London site drawn up by AHMM, Allies & Morrison, Fielden Clegg Bradley and Wilkinson Eyre (see AJ 02.04.15).

The organisations have collaborated with Quinlan Terry’s son and business partner, Francis Terry on their ‘viable’ plan.

According to MPA, its rival proposal offers 7 per cent more housing and 10 per cent more affordable housing than Royal Mail’s consented scheme with Carter Jonas estimating it is between 6 per cent and 20 per cent more profitable. The group claims its lower-rise scheme has more than 95 per cent support from locals.

Terry described the MPA-backed designs as ‘neither overtly classical nor overtly modern.’ The architect said the It is based around a traditional circus of seven-storey mansion blocks while the Royal Mail has proposed 15-storey towers to accommodate 681 homes; many of which are expected to sell for well over £1 million. 

Speaking at the event, architectural academic and member of MPA Edward Denison said: ‘The local community understood very quickly how illogical the planning of the Royal Mail scheme was and how incompatible the position and massing of the buildings were in relation to the surrounding area. This will all have an impact on the long-term success of the scheme.’

Residents are criticising Royal Mail for planning a new neighbourhood on the site, by contrast, Denison said: ‘We always hoped our scheme would join up to existing neighbourhoods,’ and integrate with the wider community.

Alexandra Steed, another local resident and landscape architect, said MPA’s design is ‘by and for the community,’ and it aims to plug into the surroundings through pocket parks, mews houses and courtyards.

MPA and Create Streets intend to make a commercially realistic attempt to purchase the site from Royal Mail Group in 2016. This will be in conjunction with a consortium of investors and developers potentially including Legal & General, Cathedral Group and Circle Housing. Though Nicholas Boys Smith did not disclose the discrepancy in potential revenue between the respective schemes, he did say that ‘the number of zeroes on both sides are not different.’

MPA hopes to submit the initial plans to Camden and Islington councils in the next few weeks, with a formal application expected towards the end of the year.

Speaking exclusively to AJ, Francis Terry said, ‘this is very exciting; it feels like we’re the coffee shop communists battling against the oppressors.’

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