Archway to become “the new Brunswick centre”

New plans being hatched-up could see Archway become the new Brunswick centre, its major landowner has revealed.

Archway is currently a run-down concrete maze with a sunken shopping plaza blighted by wind, a busy gyratory system, and three largely empty office blocks – including the 195ft Archway Tower.

But Whitbread now wants to install a Premier Inn into one of the office blocks, Hamlyn House in Highgate Hill.

And Nicholas Lazari, a director of Lazari Investments, which owns Hamlyn House and nearby Hill House, has spoken out to say that this could finally be the impetus needed to transform the rest of Archway.

“Part of the idea is to look at The Brunswick centre in Bloomsbury.” he said. “We would like to create something like The Brunswick.”

The Brunswick was a run-down 1960s council estate with a swathe of vacant shops until a �22million renovation project turned the Grade II-listed building into a glitzy shopping centre-cum-residential block with a cinema and nearby hotel.

Lazari Investments, which will submit a planning application to Islington Council early in the New Year, is planning to plough almost �9million into turning the upper storeys of Hamlyn House into a hotel, as well as on giving Lloyds TSB on the ground floor a new shop front and building a new walkway above the shopping centre.

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At present, Hamlyn House is lying empty except for the library, Lloyds TSB and Lazari Investments’ own offices.

Lazari Investments is also coming together with Archway’s other major landowners, Valad Property Group and Islington Council, to draw up a masterplan for the rest of the site – including Hill House, Archway Tower, the shopping plaza, the bus depot and the leisure centre.

There has been talk about redeveloping Archway for years. At one point, Tesco was even interested in becoming the anchor store in a new development – a move fought off by residents and businesses who feared the death of local shops.

But Mr Lazari believes that with Premier Inn on board, there is a real chance of a regeneration scheme actually happening.

“This is the first time that all the owners have managed to get together and talk about the wider regeneration,” he said.

“Because of commercial realities, we can’t do it all in one big hit. But hopefully Hamlyn House will kick-start the whole process.”

Traders have welcomed Premier Inn, which would take on a 25-year lease. David Wilson, of Wilson Barca Solicitors, chairman of the Archway Town Centre Management Group, said: “It’s a very good idea and will help regenerate the area.”

But residents want to make sure the work does not begin and end with a new hotel.

They want new shops, flats and offices and a new shop-lined pedestrian walkway running between the leisure centre and Archway Tube station.

Kate Calvert, chairwoman of the Better Archway Forum campaign group, said: “A pedestrian route from the leisure centre to the Tube station would give a very high footfall through the shopping area. It would also help reduce the wind tunnel effect.”

Architect Simon Kaufman, 40, who lives off Highgate Hill, Archway, added: “The key is that it should be a mixed-use scheme. It shouldn’t just be a hotel.”

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, reassured residents that the council also wants a “mixed-use development”.

But while admitting that “there are ideas at The Brunswick that might be applicable”, he warned that the council “has to be cautious” as Archway “is a complicated site”.