REPURPOSING OF HISTORIC WHITBREAD BREWERY STABLES APPROVED IN ISLINGTONMore information: London, Historical Environment & Townscape

Former whitbread brewery stables

13th January 2023

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Over the past 2 years, Montagu Evans has provided heritage advice to CIT on a scheme to repurpose the grade II listed former Whitbread brewery stables at Garrett St, Islington.

The building was constructed in 1897 to keep up to 100 dray horses across 3 levels, each accessed by ramps. The dray horses were used to pull carts laden with beer for delivery in the local area. The nearby brewery ceased in 1976, although the horses did not leave until 1991. A very different occupier, Travis Perkins, had resided in more recent times.

The engineering to create the ramps and structural integrity of each floor was not novel for the period, although the building is of special interest as a relatively rare example of a multi-storey stable, its architectural appearance, including the handsome frontage and vaulted ceilings and its historic association with Whitbread.

The proposals for CIT, designed by Horden Cherry Lee, comprised the repair and restoration of the listed building, plus extension at roof level and courtyard, and interior alterations for the use of the building as workspace. This would consist of 1,000 sqm (GIA) of relocated affordable workspace from Finsbury Tower (aka the HYLO building) as well as additional affordable workspace fitted out to Cat B. The reallocation of affordable workspace to the Garrett St site was driven by Islington’s Inclusive Economy Team, who considered the standalone industrial building to be both more suitable and attractive to prospective occupiers.

Our assessment identified harmful elements of the proposals but several countervailing benefits. Throughout the process, we tested various options to ensure that those harms were minimised or were absolutely necessary to deliver the workspace which all parties considered as the optimum use. The benefits included the removal of previous attritions and reinstatement of the original plan form arrangement, plus the reuse of the original horse ramp as an integral part of the circulation space. The rooftop and side extension to the listed building has been carefully considered. We went through a detailed pre-application process to reach the final design, including meeting with the LBI conservation officer and design review panel.

The scheme was recommended for approval by officers at the LBI. On Tuesday night, members went with that recommendation and unanimously approved the scheme. The scheme will provide much-needed fit-for-purpose affordable workspace to the borough whilst bringing this fantastic building back into use and enabling the public to appreciate its rich history.

Image by Horden Cherry Lee.

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