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Plans for the disused Haverstock School site on Crogsland Road have been unveiled for the first time.
The scrappy patch of land, left vacant after the development of the school, has been used as a makeshift car park for several years. The council now plan to build a new Charlie Ratchford Resource Centre for older people on the site.
There will be an exhibition of the designs on Tuesday March 20th, 1pm to 7pm, at the exisiting Charle Ratchford Centre on Belmont Street.
I’ll be witholding judgement until I’ve been able to look at the plans properly. The site has caused controversy in the past and will surely do so again – as ever, drop me an email with any views.
Council cuts to the street cleaning service has led to a large number of complaints from residents living off Chalk Farm Road.
Camden Town has the fourth largest night-time economy in the UK. This may be good for local businesses – but the inevitable by-product is unfortunately a whole trail of rubbish and debris down residential streets in the morning. This is worst on Saturday and Sunday mornings, after the local bars and clubs have been at their busiest – and residents often emerge to find discrded take aways, vomit – and worse – on their doorsteps.
It therefore makes no sense that the streets off Chalk Farm Road have been allocated their (now weekly) sweep on a Wednesday – four days later.
While everyone understands that councils have to save money in difficult economic times, they must do everything they can to minimise the impact. Labour-run Camden’s £4m cut to street sweeping (almost 50% of the total £9m budget) is going to be felt even more keenly when it is being applied in such an illogical way.
Streets in the heart of Camden Town need a weekend sweep – not rubbish sitting in the street to ferment until Wednesday.
We have won our battle to save the old Chappell Piano Factory!
Many local people will be familiar with the story until now. Despite our huge campaign; a large number of petition signatures and the strong case we made at the planning hearing that led to the plans being thrown out, the developer was incredibly still attempting to force through the demolition of this historic local building.
However, I’m delighted to say that in the face of such intense pressure, the developer has now emailed me to say he has abandoned his plans and is in discussions with the council on refurbishing the existing building instead.
While we will need to scrutinise any new plans carefully, it is fantastic news that the historic building, and the quality local business space it houses, has been saved. Right from the very start we have pointed out that the existing building is in good health and should be refurbished, not raised to the ground (with all the disruption that the planning inspector acknowledged that would have entailed for people on Belmont Street).
Thank you once again if you were one of those who signed our petition or wrote to the council with your views.
Now, I hope this case will demonstrate to Camden Council the urgent need to introduce a local listing system as soon as possible.
There was a massive victory for Chalk Farm residents today when a planning inspector threw out developer’s plans to demolish the beautiful Old Chappell Piano Factory in Belmont Street.
This decision grants a reprieve to a precious piece of Camden’s heritage. The inspector also backed our other arguments, saying she was not satisfied that building work “could be undertaken without serious disruption to neighbouring occupiers.” The inspector concluded that the developer’s plans “would place at risk some 360 jobs in existing businesses”.
We launched a campaign last year, winning support not just from furious Belmont Street residents but people all across Camden. The campaign was picked up by our local newspapers, the Camden New Journal, Camden Gazette and Ham and High, and just last week I had a telephone call from as far afield as the Finchcocks Musical Museum to tell me our petition was doing the rounds in Kent. I am so hugely grateful to everyone who got involved.
Sadly, however, this is not yet the end of the story. Even before the planning inspector delivered her verdict the developer had lodged a new, but largely similar, application with Camden Council.
After such a robust report from the inspector, and in the face of strident opposition from local people, Camden have strong grounds to reject this application as well. But we can’t be complacent. Please do take the time to contact Camden’s planning department (quoting application number 2011/0102/P) and tell them that this new scheme deserves throwing out as well.
Camden has some of London’s best buildings.
Not just the big sights, like the British Museum or the Roundhouse, but also smaller, more humble buildings that are much loved by locals: clusters of workers cottages; handsome canal warehouses and solid red brick housing estates.
But what’s really amazing, is how few of these buildings have any protection whatsoever.
Let’s be clear: architecture should never stand still: nothing is more dull than a building that has become a museum piece. In the hands of the best developers, older buildings can find a new lease of life, rediscovering their relevance to the local community while preserving a rich link back to our past. Look no further than St. Pancras Station, or the British Museum’s Great Court, to see how modern architecture can dazzle in an older setting. This should be the first instinct of anyone working with an older building.
If a building is listed or in a conservation area, it has some measure of protection. At the very least, a committee of councillors has to approve any demolition.
But any other building can be demolished by a developer with no permission required, whatever it might mean to the local community, whatever its place in Camden’s history, and whatever the potential for vibrant renovation. Recently, huge protests over the Old Chappell Factory and the old examination hall (now Pizza Express) on Prince of Wales Road tell us that something is badly wrong.
The council can put this right. I have written to Sue Vincent, the Labour Cabinet Member who oversees planning, asking her to introduce a “Local List”, and Liberal Democrats have also tabled a question at tomorrow’s full council meeting. A Local List would allow the council to designate certain buildings that are important to our borough’s heritage. Any developer wanting to demolish them would have to ask permission from the council first. A Local List would not stop any redevelopment ever happening again: it would just give the community, through it’s councillors, the power to decide when that is or is not appropriate.
What’s more, a Local List wold send a very clear signal to developers that Camden will be looking for innovative architecture, rather than the old lazy option of raising an inconvenient building to the ground. Needless demolition is an environmental catastrophe and inexcusable in a borough seeking to reduce it’s carbon footprint.
So, protect Camden’s heritage and help save the planet – seems a no brainer? I’ll be posting the council’s response tomorrow.
For over a hundred years, Camden has been associated with music.
The old Chappell Piano Factory, on Belmont Street, was built in 1860 when Camden’s piano industry was booming. It’s a sturdy, handsome building, nodding back to our area’s past but today housing local businesses providing jobs for hundreds of people.
It’s a scandal that developers want to demolish the old factory, to replace it with a student hostel. This would have a hugely damaging impact on residents and businesses in Chalk Farm.
Although the council has rejected the plans, the developer has appealed so the final decision will be made by a Planning Inspector. I will be giving evidence to the inspector on behalf of local people, and will be opposing the plans because:
• there will be a huge amount of unnecessary noise and disruption to people in the Belmont Street area;
• over 250 jobs, many of them held by local people, will be affected;
• we will lose a building that has served Chalk Farm for over 100 years and is a precious part of our area’s history;
• demolition of perfectly good buildings is a disgraceful waste of precious resources;
• there is already a large amount of student accommodation in the area.
If you agree, please join the campaign by signing our petition. The more local people who speak out the better our chance of seeing off this development which is bad for residents, bad for local business and bad for the environment.