Caledonian Park clock tower: Anger as final designs unveiled

Caledonian Park Clock Tower, Cafe and Toilets Project - 2016 Artist's Impression

Caledonian Park Clock Tower, Cafe and Toilets Project - 2016 Artist's Impression - Credit: Archant

Designs have been finalised for a controversial visitor centre at the foot of the Caledonian Park clock tower – despite fierce local opposition to the plans.

According to the council the new designs – which include the restoration of the Grade II-listed clock tower, a new heritage centre, café and toilets – will turn the park into a “vibrant” and more “resident-friendly” place to visit.

The latest designs, which come after a consultation with the public, Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), include the removal of a proposed canopy and more space between the buildings, which will now be finished in stone, bronze and brick.

But campaigners remain unhappy with the plans.

Mike Power, a member of the Save Cally Park group opposing the plans, said: “First Islington Council patronises our local community, then it ignores us, then it tries to fob us off with a few cosmetic changes to the visitor centre scheme it has promoted all along and intends to bulldoze through.

“The council has consistently and arrogantly brushed aside our community’s opposition to a visitor centre at the north gate of Caledonian Park.

“A 750-signature petition and two public consultations have shown strong opposition to their plans.”

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He urged the council to reconsider the location of the proposed visitor centre.

“We demand a genuine and honest dialogue with our council to consider alternative sitings for a visitor centre within Caledonian Park, and to reconsider its size,” he said.

Last month, Save Cally Park accused the council of stifling negative responses to its consultation after leaked documents revealed more than 60 per cent of responses to public surveys were against the plans.

But Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s environment boss, says the plans will be good for park users.

“The café, toilets and heritage centre will be a real asset,” she said.

“We have adjusted the centre’s designs after listening to the views expressed by residents. It is important to get this right to ensure a sustainable and successful scheme.

“We have balanced the public’s feedback with the requirements and observations from the HLF and Historic England to produce a plan we hope satisfies everyone to the greatest possible extent.”

Opened in 1855 as the centrepiece of the former Metropolitan Cattle Market, the tower and its Grade II listed railings were built to withstand a bull stampede. The tower is currently on Historic England’s “At-Risk Register”.

To read the full design document visit the council website.

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