Hazel Blears’ Planning Inspectorate has ridden roughshod over local views again.
Camden Passage is a unique mix of market stalls and permanent antiques shops. Over recent years it’s become diluted with more fashion shops and eateries, but the core antiques business is still strong. And one of the most distinctive buildings in the area is the Mall.
That’s partly because it’s the most visible bit of Camden Passage, being on Upper Street; and the first bit you reach from the Angel tube. And partly because it’s such an interesting building. Originally it was a tramshed, part of the North Metropolitan Tramways Company set up in 1871, operating horse-drawn trams.
It’s long had a restaurant upstairs (formerly the wonderful Lola’s) and downstairs, a collection of small specialist antiques shops creating the famous mall.
I’ve blogged before about the battle to defend the Mall from developers. Unable to touch the outside of the building, they applied to take down the partitions creating the mall effect inside to create one large retail unit – and not for antiques. It’s not just vandalism, it’s daft too. Surely it’s counter-intuitive to these recessionary times to put all the eggs in one large basket, compared to the range of thriving small shops. That’s the developers’ problem. But it also undermines the character of Camden Passage. And that’s bad news for all of us who love Islington.
Clearly all the Labour government’s talk of the new localism is so much hot air.