Published: 19 August, 2010
by JOSIE HINTON
A PRIVATE developer has been forced to remove a graffiti advertising campaign from the Regent’s Canal towpath after it was labelled “criminal damage”.
Londonewcastle, who specialise in high-end housing developments, sparked anger when they sprayed their tag near Camden Lock bridge last week.
The move was designed to advertise The Henson, a former factory and printing works owned by Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, which they have transformed into 46 luxury canalside homes in Oval Road.
But the company was forced to remove the stencilled graffiti after canal-users accused the firm of damaging a conservation area for private profit.
Del Brenner, who runs the Regent’s Network, a coalition of people campaigning to protect London’s canals, described the move as a “cheap publicity stunt”.
“It is very irresponsible and no better than people going around tagging and stencilling with spraypaint,” he said. “In fact, that they are doing in for commercial reasons makes it even worse.
“It is incredible that a company building in a conservation area has no regard for the context or setting. All they are thinking about is profits.”
Prices for the flats start at £450,000 and rise to £1.5million for three-bedroom properties. The development also includes two 4,000sq ft penthouses with multiple terraces and spacious roof gardens.
Brian Lake, chairman of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said: “When a company attempts to sell their flats by damaging a conservation area they should be hauled over the coals. They could be accused of criminal damage and the fact they removed it so quickly indicates they knew they had done something wrong.
“There is a very strong commercial side to the canal and this is just one indication that companies do utilise its attractiveness as a backdrop for their own use.”
Rohan Ames, marketing manager for Londonewcastle, said: “We thought we’d try some innovative advertising, more directional signage than advertising really.
“The methods we used were temporary, using a chalk-based adherent to the towpath that washes off with rain and foot traffic in a couple of weeks.
“We didn’t predict that this would cause any offence. Upon receiving a complaint, and after liaising with British Waterways, we had all the stencilled work removed from the pavement within 24 hours.”
A Town Hall spokeswoman said: “The council has written to the developers London and Newcastle (Camden) Ltd regarding the graffiti and breaches of Highways Act and Town and Country Planning Act regulations and will be monitoring the situation.”
A British Waterways spokeswoman said: “This form of advertising is not considered to be in keeping with the canal environment.
“Advertising can be displayed on the vertical faces of third-party structures and on construction hoarding lines as long as the contents is related to the activities being undertaken on the neighbouring land.
“In many locations on the wider canals the structures are listed heritage sites and no application of markings and the like is permitted.”