Regent’s Canal: A well-known retreat. Photo: Clare Hand

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he stretch of the Regent’s Canal that runs between Camden and King’s Cross is a well-known retreat from the relentless fumes and congestion of the roads around it. Tourists chatter, locals meander and cyclists charge up and down the part tree-encased, part concrete-coated and part office-allied waterway.

Well, at least this is a fairly accurate daytime scene. Come nightfall, a different reputation precedes the canal. Regulars and visitors alike avoid the stretch, regarding it as unsafe, particularly in the long central strip which has few boats moored, poor lighting and little more than a sheer brick wall as a canalside companion.

Long central strip: Seen as unsafe. Photo: Clare Hand

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]amden Town Unlimited (CTU), the guys behind the redevelopment of Camden and now Euston, are attempting to change the canal’s usability at night and desirably during the day. They have a wide variety of proposed alterations, ranging from simple changes like planting more trees, creating flower beds and resuscitating eroding green spaces, increasing the size of walkways so as to end the eternal battle between walkers and cyclists, improving lighting in tunnels and shortening overbearing, imposing walls.

The team also plan to add plants and a seating area to create a beer garden in the canal-facing Constitution pub’s fairly bare outdoor waterside area, in addition to the spectacular terrace outside the boozer itself. This will be a sought after spot for the streams of revellers at the venue’s regular jazz nights.

A new home for The Constitution’s jazz fans. Photo: Clare Hand

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hese tweaks will be made in conjunction with the addition of cultural and artist installations along the waterway. This will include the introduction of floating restaurants and cafes permanently or temporarily moored upon the shore. Similarly, the creation of small coffee shops on the waterfront, like those set up along Hackney’s stretch of canal, will mean that extra seating and garden areas will be based on the water too.

These will be created with weed beds built underneath, allowing for underwater systems to thrive and biodiversity to grow. There is also talk of a Southbank-style under-the-bridge bookshop being built next to the Costa and the development of other pop-ups and food and drink stops courtesy of young businesses and locals.

CTU is also intent on creating opportunities for artists, be they graffitists brought in to embellish blank spaces and bolster the “Camden look”, or sculptors to display their talents. By attempting to create a night-life friendly environment, the group is attempting to utilise a resource that can be as buzzy come nightfall as it is during the day.

[box]More on what Camden Town Unlimited are up to here. [/box]

About The Author