Watchdog describes aspects of McAslan + Partners’ design for £250m scheme as ‘surreal’

The £250m redevelopment of King’s Cross station suffered a setback this week after Cabe refused to give the plan its full support, saying the design needed more work.

The design review panel said it recognised that the project was challenging, but the significance of the development – King’s Cross will be the terminus for the Eurostar – demanded “the highest standards” from architect John McAslan + Partners.

In a further blow to McAslan, it has emerged that the practice has lost a director to rival architect Capita Ruddle Wilkinson. Andrew Pyke, who left last week, was not involved with King’s Cross.

The Cabe report said: “In overall terms, we do not believe that, in the round, those highest standards have been achieved, partly for reasons beyond the control of the applicant and the architect and partly in respect of aspects of the project.”

The report highlighted problems with the entrance and recommended that other architects be brought in to help redesign it.

It said: “The entrance needs a fresh approach, possibly working with a consortium of architects, artists, lighting consultants, and graphic designers to make it look and feel like the obvious entry point.”

The watchdog also said that lack of clarity in the design meant that passengers, especially those with disabilities, would get lost. It pointed out that passengers faced the “surreal prospect” of exiting the complex, then coming back to take the underground.

John McAslan has hit back, saying the scheme has the full support of Camden council and English Heritage and that problems with directions had been addressed.

He said: “I am reasonably happy with the comments from Cabe. The wayfinding issue has been addressed and we have full support from everybody else involved.”

The scheme was submitted to Camden council for planning approval in August and is awaiting a decision.