Plans for the mass redevelopment of the Hawley Wharf site opposite Camden Market have been submitted to the council this week.
For over two years, I have been working with other local councillors, residents and business groups to influence the developer’s proposals. While it’s great that this ramshackle and tawdry site (partly gutted by the fire back in 2008) will finally get a make over, we need to make sure the development respects our local area and makes Camden Town an even better place to live.
Judged against these criteria, and despite the developer taking on a few of our ideas, I believe the proposals currently fall short on several scores:
- Just 8% of the new housing on the site will be affordable, despite Camden setting a target of 50% and housing being the priority need in the area;
- Open spaces are poky and overshadowed by huge blocks;
- No evidence has yet been provided that local transport infrastructure will be able to cope with large numbers of extra visitors to a new four story “market”;
- There is no mechanism to secure new outlets that will bring retail diversity to Camden, to appeal to a different demographic.
Frankly, this new development feels like a shopping mall disguised as a market. Yet there is already a huge, commercial market on the other side of Chalk Farm Road, attracting thousands of visitors a week.
I believe most residents and local businesses would like to see a scheme that looks to Camden Lock’s origins as a place for craftsmanship, entrepreneurship and creativity, while offering something for the local people who currently feel frozen out of their own area.