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Gas company’s plan to partially astroturf Canonbury Square Gardens is abandoned amid neighbours’ opposition

PUBLISHED: 07:30 19 October 2018

A gas kiosk will be installed under the concreted area in the centre of Canonbury Square garden. Picture: Flikr/ Graham C99 (CC BY 2.0)

A gas kiosk will be installed under the concreted area in the centre of Canonbury Square garden. Picture: Flikr/ Graham C99 (CC BY 2.0)

Archant

A multi-billion-pound gas company has bowed to opposition and abandoned plans to partially astroturf the historic Canonbury Square Gardens.

Canonbury Square garden. Picture: Flikr/ David Holt (CC BY 2.0)Canonbury Square garden. Picture: Flikr/ David Holt (CC BY 2.0)

Cadet met 40 neighbours and three ward councillors last night, and assured them it no longer planned to bury new equipment, known as a “gas governor”, under the garden.

Gas chiefs need to replace the governor, which regulates gas pressure, as it’s an Edwardian-era system that’s no longer fit for purpose.

Burying the governor beneath the garden would have required four maintenance lids, roughly a meter by 1.5 meters in diameter, being laid in the lawn. Cadent suggested these be camouflaged using astroturf.

Canonbury Square Gardens. Picture: David Holt/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)Canonbury Square Gardens. Picture: David Holt/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“It would be environmental vandalism,” said Gary Thompson. “If you keep chipping away at these lovely bits of garden we are not going to have any left for future generations.

“Cadent is a very big, successful gas and engineering company. We can build Crossrail under Islington so I’m sure there must be a better solution.”

The governor is currently on a nearby pavement but Cadent has earmarked Canonbury Square Gardens as a more suitable location for its new kit.

Canonbury Square garden will no longer have a gas kiosk installed under its grass. Picture: Flikr/Ritu Ashrafi
(CC BY 2.0)Canonbury Square garden will no longer have a gas kiosk installed under its grass. Picture: Flikr/Ritu Ashrafi (CC BY 2.0)

But neighbours yesterday made clear their preference for the four- by three- by two-metre governor to go under the park’s concreted area in the centre of the gardens instead.

And Gary, former chair of the John Spencer Residents Association, told the Gazette: “Cadent say they’re not going to try and avoid putting astroturf in.

“We don’t have enough green, so putting it in jeopardy with an astroturf lawn wouldn’t be in keeping with character.”

The work was due to start in November, but Cadent last night said it would go away and consider people’s suggestions, with work now instead predicted to commence in January.

Nonetheless, Gary added: “We need to know exactly what’s going on before it happens, because this could affect the quality of life in the area.

“I’m still concerned, but I’m grateful for Cadent choosing to engage with us.”

Ian Veigh, of the Friends of Canonbury Square, said: “They need to make changes to the governor because it’s been there for 60 to 100 years, we accept that – it’s an Edwardian gas system in a modern city.

“The work needs to be done but should happen in a way that leaves the historic square looking good.

“It’s a four-month job and we have every confidence in Cadent, who have promised the square will look better than it does now.”

Ian added: “It now seems almost certain that it won’t be under the lawn, which is a good outcome – but we will be watching them closely.”

A spokesperson for Cadent said: “Following feedback from residents we are in the process of designing the gas equipment to go under the hardstanding in Canonbury Square Gardens, rather than in the grassed area – those designs are currently being finalised.

“It is very important we replace the ageing equipment so residents continue to enjoy a safe and reliable gas supply.

“We greatly appreciate their understanding and their feedback on the proposals for the equipment.”

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