The application was submitted three years after the appointment of Argent St George as joint developer by landowners London & Continental Railways and Exel. The 27 ha site will not become available until the completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to King's Cross Station in 2007. It could then take another 12 to 15 years, or even longer, to develop.
The bulk of the scheme, accounting for 486,000 m2, will be offices and other business accommodation providing 30,000 jobs. In addition, a minimum of 1800 homes and a mix of leisure, retail, cinemas, hotels and multi-storey car-parking are planned. The developer has agreed to the Greater London Authority's planning policy of providing up to 50% of housing as affordable or low-cost dwellings.
The masterplan was drawn up jointly by architects Allies and Morrison and Porphyrios Associates. Their scheme is relatively tight-knit, with an average building height of three storeys across the whole site and a maximum of 19 storeys. The heart of the site is an arena created around the Regent's Canal and bounded on one side by listed Victorian brick warehouses. Another large Station Square will be created at the southern end of the site between the King's Cross and St Pancras Station.
Bob Allies, director of Allies and Morrison, said: "Over the past couple of years, we have moved from basic mapping to physical guidelines.
These define the physical nature and height of buildings and their relationships to streets. We have resisted designing actual buildings because they won't be built for another four or five years. But we have brought in 15 or 16 architects to illustrate what might happen on various sites."
Bob West, who heads Camden council's planning team for the area, said: "Our planning brief asked for soft, open spaces and good scale and articulation along the canal. The key thing is to provide a gentle transition between the new development and the surrounding areas."
Although considerable public consultation has already taken place, the planning application will itself be subject to another long consultation period of 14 weeks.
One result of consultation so far is that only one listed building, a Victorian block of flats, will be demolished. About 20 historic buildings will be refurbished, including the Great Northern Hotel and the former German Gymnasium between the two stations.
The three listed cylindrical gas holders will be re-erected and converted into housing along with shops and leisure uses.