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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Calls to save Wood Green gasholder as new urban quarter plans blasted

Residents have demanded a historic gasholder is saved from demolition as plans to replace it with a “monolithic” new development were unveiled.

Included in the designs are up to 1,080 flats and houses, a park, offices and shops, giving a bold vision for the future of the industrial land.

But scathing residents blasted the scheme for ignoring Wood Green’s “quirky” identity and heritage at a public meeting.

Marcus Ballard, chairman of Parkside Malvern Residents Association, said: “We have a unique gasholder that is worth preserving. A gasholder could be turned into some sort of entertainment area, a design space, a performance space, all sorts of things. The best ideas around the world are coming up with things like that - and the best thing you can do is think the way Shopping City did years ago.

“I’m incredibly disappointed with this application. It turns its back on the best bits of Wood Green.”

Colin Marr, 71, a retired engineer, of Methuen Park, Muswell Hill, described the design as a “bland series of monolithic blocks that look like cliffs” and said it was “indistinguishable from anything you might find from Walsall to Basingstoke”.

The London Development Agency and National Grid own the land which borders Wood Green cultural quarter, Shopping City, Hornsey Park Road and the East Coast Mainline rail track.

Other developments on a similar scale have retained gas rings - including a listed gasholder in Kings Cross and another in Dublin which has been converted into luxury flats apartments.

But agent for the Heartlands scheme Myra Barnes said dismantling and reassembling gasholders to remove gas tanks underneath made them difficult structures to incorporate.

She said: “Generally that happens when the structure is considered to be unique and listed - like in Kings Cross. In this case English Heritage have indicated on three occasions that they do not think this is worth saving.”

She described the Heartlands scheme as “design-led” and “a quality development”.

Residents also raised concerns about lost jobs from the demolition of Olympia Trading Estate and increased traffic congestion in Hornsey Park Road.

They complained the meeting on Wednesday, May 25 was “premature” saying questions about building density, light obstruction and children’s play-space were not answered.


(Story from Hornsey Journal)

Tags for Forum Posts: conservation, gasholder", haringey heartlands, hornsey

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The pedestrian square would just end up a carpark.

I would dearly love to see that gas holder preserved. Where do I sign up?

How about some of these ideas: http://www.kingscrosscentral.com/competition? This was chosen as the winner: http://www.bp-k.com/projects/Gasholder.html
Chain me to the gas holder!  Since the 1960s and 70s Wood Green has been blighted over and over again by planners and architects who have removed character and variety of design, replacing it with bland and homogeneous building blocks.  The rot has to stop now!

I think that I shall never spy

A gas ring lovely as the sky.

In fact unless those gas rings fall

I'll never see the sky at all.


Gasholder shadow dweller, with apologies to Ogden.

The road was laid for that development years ago and we used to call it the quiet road.  As there was no traffic and a beautiful road surface is was a great place for our son to learn to ride his bike.  Having been up and down that road many times I cannot understand how they can squeeze in all this housing which will include social housing.  I imagine that the Turnpike Lane junction would be even more gridlocked than it already is.  When New River was built we were promised all sorts of investment but that never seemed to materialise and if you go through it it doesn't exactly look fantastic so like John I think the square would be an eye sore rather than this beautiful open space they are trying to demo.  I don't believe anything this council tells us and Marcus Ballard and the residents association are right in trying to protect the area and we ought to support them.  Haringey is trying to squeeze housing in everywhere but they cannot maintain roads and pavements, provide cycling routes, and provide services to its existing residents so how would they cope with more?

There is more to this than saving the gasholder, worthy as that would be. The Haringey Heartlands planning proposal that is now open for consultation is a very mediocre scheme that fails to do justice to Wood Green and turns its back on real opportunities to do something with more imagination and sensitivity.


At the Planning Development Forum in May there were serious criticisms of the scheme from irate local residents – these included:


  • 1000 new residential units is too many on this small site
  • There would be a net loss of jobs through the closure of  the existing businesses on the Olympia Business estate
  • Inadequate provision of children’s play space – said to be below the Council’s standard
  • Approximately 2000 new residents with no improvements to infrastructure
  • Proponents of the scheme claim there are good transport links – bus, tube and rail when in fact these services are already overloaded.


The present scheme can be seen almost as a parody of mindless housing developments from an earlier era. It consists of a series of eight, nine and ten storey blocks mostly arranged in two lines either side of the spine road. For sure it is dressed up to be environmentally friendly and there is a bit of PR puff for a new small public square, but in reality it is a high density residential development designed to generate maximum return for National Grid, which is the private company that acquired all the land assets from the old British Gas.


A more imaginative and less profit driven scheme would have done something to respect the cultural, historic and social context of the site. It could have included reuse of the outer frame of the gasholder to house some community related facility and reopening the Moselle stream that runs in a culvert under the site and making this a feature of the scheme. Wood Green deserves something much better than what is now on offer.

View from Ally Pally park now, looking towards Wood Green (above) and

view if proposed 'Clarendon Square' blocks are built (below)

If this concerns you, get your objections in now.

Planning sub-cttee meeting scheduled for 12th Sept. 2011

Planning application ref. no. HGY/2009/0503 - ("Clarendon Square" proposal). See:


Outline planning application for demolition of existing structures and redevelopment to provide a residential led, mixed-use development, comprising between 950 to 1,080 residential units (C3); with 460sqm to 700sqm of office uses (B1); 370sqm to 700sqm of retail/financial and professional services uses (A1/A2); 190sqm to 550sqm of restaurant/cafe/drinking establishment uses (A3/A4); 325sqm to 550sqm of community/assembly/leisure uses (D1/D2); new landscaping, public and private open space, and energy centre, two utility compounds, up to 251 car parking spaces, cycle parking, access and other associated infrastructure works.


Lawdee-lawdee, Kay; that looks awful!

To what use is this land being put to at the moment? Most of this land has no building on it, there's a couple of gas holders and a holding yard for compounded vehicles. That's basically it.


I'm interested to hear what 'objectors' to these plans propose instead. Maybe they think a housing development with less height? Certainly those residences on Hornsey Park Rd would be seriously affected by shadow in the afternoon.


What doesn't help is people objecting to things that aren't happening anyway. One objector decries the disappearance of the arts scene (Chocolate Factory). If they bothered to actually look at the plans they'd see that the development does not touch this area.


As to the view from Ally Pally of this development; yes the development is probably too high but it isn't a strong enough reason to object. This building is after all is what your eye will be drawn to and will redraw London's skyline and all in relation to it forever ... until a 100 floor building is built.

I don't go along with the idea that something has got to be preserved just because it's old. It used to be that gasholders were considered to be eyesores. And the idea that it inspired the Gherkin building is just ludicrous - did it also inspire the design of the Wellington bomber ? The principle of strength through triangulation has been known for centuries.

As usual, the proposals for alternative use are wooly in the extreme - " some sort of entertainment area, a design space, a performance space, all sorts of things " OK what ?  Is some sort of entertainment area more important than housing ?

What would be a disaster is if there were an attempt to combine the Victorian steelwork with a modernist concrete and glass interior, thereby jettisoning the heritage and bastardising the modern.

On the other hand, while I like modern architecture, I would hate to see the site given over to a clone of the unlovely, uninspired, hideous New River estate.


Did anyone post this news.....


Haringey Heartlands development is given the go-ahead


'A planning panel narrowly approved the Haringey Heartlands scheme by a vote of five to four, despite a volley of objections from the neighbouring community'.

From The Victorian Society: The structure of Hornsey no.1 is so important because of its highly innovative design. Helical (or spiral-like) girders are joined to vertical members to form triangular cells with each side being equally stressed. The vertical elements also act as guide rails for the gas tanks to rise and fall. The top of those rails rise above the girder like finials and the resultant form is strong, lightweight, functional and elegant. It was built in 1892. 30 years later the same geodesic principles were used in the design of airships, and more than 100 years later by Norman Foster for the Gherkin building.

National Grid are sticking in their Section 73 application to the Council imminently and, if when they get the go-ahead, intend to commence demolition next Spring. So if you wish to see this unique piece of our local industrial heritage go before then...

It's a sunny day today but there's a dark day coming...



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