Work to remove the much-maligned canopy that stands in front of King’s Cross station began yesterday.
Built in the early 1970s as a temporary structure (it has required a renewed planning approval each year from Camden council), the green-tinted eyesore has lingered like an unwanted house guest ever since, offering a dour countenance to arriving or departing passengers. Yet its time has long been marked: a new concourse opened earlier this year, and the front of the station where the canopy sits is to be turned into a huge new public square, in the process opening up the beautiful façade of Lewis Cubbit’s Grade 1-listed 1852 station. Work is expected to be completed in autumn 2013.
The move is a welcome one, albeit with one caveat. A little to the north of King’s Cross lies Granary Square, a new “public” space that is in fact yet another zone controlled by its own private security firm and its own set of rules; the aim being to foster a business-friendly environment, one in which malcontents can be swiftly removed from. The new square at King’s Cross will be part of the same zone, and subject to the same arbitrary laws. Most visitors won’t care a jot, but the gradual erosion of truly public space in the capital remains a major concern, something we highlighted in this year when we mapped ‘private London’.
While demolition work is underway, passengers will be obliged to depart the station either via York Way or through the new Western concourse.
All photos copyright Network Rail.