Locals launch design contest for rival Mount Pleasant scheme

Elizabeth Hopkirk

Mount Pleasant proposal - watercolour by Francis Terry

Proposals sought from ‘across the profession’ after Francis Terry designed first phase

An open design competition has been launched for a central London site that would pit the winning architect against some of the profession’s biggest names.

The Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood Forum (MPNF) is seeking designs for the next stage of its attempt to derail Royal Mail Group’s controversial but consented proposal designed by Wilkinson Eyre, Allies & Morrison, AHMM and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

These plans were criticised by Camden and Islington councils and locals for their height, bulk and failure to contribute to the character of the area.

The community worked with lobby group Create Streets, Francis Terry Associates and Alexandra Steed Urban, among others, on a rival proposal. They were formally encouraged in this by the then mayor Boris Johnson – at the same time that he granted permission for the Royal Mail-led scheme.

They established a neighbourhood forum and were granted a Community Right to Build Order in January for part of the 3.5ha Royal Mail site which is now up for sale. The MPNF wants Royal Mail to sell it the site.

The competition, announced today, is for buildings facing Gough Street, on the western perimeter. The forum intends to use the winning designs as part of the scheme it brings forward.

Bartlett lecturer Edward Dension, of the MPNF, said the designs should be sensitive to the surrounding streetscape but need not echo the classically influenced designs for the first phase which were drawn up by Terry and Steed along with Calford Seaden Architects and David Taylor of Urban Engineering Studio.

He added: “The Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood Forum has always championed the widest possible public and professional engagement in the future of this important site.

“We are therefore delighted now to be in a position to concentrate on the second phase of our scheme and welcome submissions from across the architectural profession that imaginatively interpret the site’s context, creatively challenge the masterplanning principles, and value the importance of community engagement.”

The deadline is May 26. For more information, visit the Create Streets website.


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