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Developers were sent back to the drawing board earlier this year following a massive campaign led by local councillors and residents. After several months of close liaison with the Hawley Wharf Working Group (made up of interested local representatives), developers have come forward with a new, improved scheme which shows far more respect for it’s iconic setting in the heart of Camden Town and alongside the Regent’s Canal.
While the new scheme may not yet be 100% perfect, Cabe are definitely right to describe it as “a marked improvement“. It just goes to show that corporate developers and professional planners in the Town Hall should harness the energy and ideas of local residents more often.
As anyone who has found themselves fighting unpopular development plans will tell you, too often the planning system feels remote and out of touch with local communities.
This is particularly true in an inner city London borough like Camden, where we will always have large amounts of development, often radical and high profile.
The coalition government’s new approach to planning aims to give residents and communities more of a say in the decisions that effect their lives, by introducing Neighbourhood Planning Forums. These allow residents to come together to define an area and draw up a Neighbourhood Plan. Planning applications in the area are then assessed against the Neighbourhood Plan as well as the council’s planning policies.
We have a number of groups coming together in Camden to draw up Neighbourhood Plans, including the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum which is currently considering where to set it’s boundaries. Some have suggested that West Kentish Town, the area in Haverstock bordered by Prince of Wales Road, Malden Road and Queen’s Crescent, should be included. But we need to know what local people think before setting the boundary.
Caroline Hill, Chair of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum, has written about this issue on the excellent Kentishtowner blog. If you live in West Kentish Town, you can read her contribution and have your say here, or drop me a line.
Tonight the planning committee will make its decision on the proposed Hawley Wharf development in Camden Town, which will affect the character of our area for a generation.
We’re hoping for a strong turnout at the Town Hall to show the committee how strongly local people feel about the plans. If you want to demonstrate your support, please come along to Camden Town Hall, Judd Street at 7pm.
I will be speaking at the committee, and have joined together with councillors in neighbouring Camden Town with Primrose Hill ward to send the following letter to our local papers today:
We represent different political parties, but have come together to urge our colleagues on the planning committee to reject the damaging Hawley Wharf proposals. We don’t oppose development – but we do oppose bad development.
We have spent almost four years working with residents to influence and improve the developer’s plans. Unfortunately, our conclusion is that they just aren’t good enough for our area. And it’s not just local people who say that – both English Heritage and the Design Council have raised objections to the scheme.
Camden Town is a special place with a unique, vibrant atmosphere. The new plans would replace the independent, entrepreneurial spirit of trading in Camden with a four storey shopping mall, designed to attract maximum numbers of tourists and freeze out residents. We need a development with open space the whole community can share; affordable homes for local people, and diverse shops and services that people of all ages want to use. A new school could be a useful addition locally – providing it doesn’t mean there’s no social housing.
Even at this late stage it’s not too late to protect the future of Camden Town – by sending the developer back to the drawing board and asking him to come back with better plans as soon as possible.
Cllr Chris Naylor (Lib Dem), Cllr Pat Callaghan (Labour), Cllr Matt Sanders (Lib Dem)
Update: we won! Scheme thrown out by 7 votes to 5. Camden New Journal has full story here.
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.
Camden Council are threatening to water down road safety procedures at Dalby Street, a road used by hundreds of people a day to access Kentish Town Sports Centre.
Dalby Street was controversially officially handed over to a developer last year. With plans to build luxury flats over the road, an independent inspector found that traffic marshals would be required, all day, to allow people to reach the sports centre safely. He also said that Camden Council, as the body supposedly representing the interests of the public, should have the final say in how these access arrangements operate.
Remarkably, Labour-run Camden is now considering cutting the marshaling provision – because it will be too onerous a responsibility on the developer. Worst still, Camden may offload it’s duty for regulating and instructing the marshals onto the private developer and his customers – who have a financial interest in keeping road safety procedures at a bare minimum.
Talacre Sports Centre is one of the most popular and important facilities in our borough and it’s users need to be able to access it safely. I have written the the council to raise these concerns, and to urge them to remember whose side they are supposed to be on. Road safety has to come first.
Those who have been less than complementary about development plans for Camden Market (including English Heritage, the Design Council and many local residents) might be breathing a sigh of relief when they see what was originally being cooked up.
Buried away in an obscure part of the internet are what looks like early plans for the iconic market site… let’s just say it’s not exactly pretty.
And can anyone spot the glaring ommission?*
* The not-so-eagle-eyed will have noticed that much loved Castlehaven Community Centre, not even part of the development site, has been entirely airbrushed out of the drawings above…
Kentish Town residents got together for a pizza party yesterday, celebrating our victory against plans to demolish the historic Pizza Express building (once North London Polytechnic’s Assembly Hall).
It was great to see so many local people braving the snow to mark this big win – I’ve never seen Pizza Express so full! Real friendships have been forged through the campaign, a happy by-product of community activism.
While I have my fingers crossed this will be my last post on the much loved building, the owners may well have other plans up their sleeve. There is now an army of Kentish Towners ready to scrutinise them.
Two expert professional groups have revealed they have significant concerns around the Hawley Wharf redevelopment plans as they currently stand.
Design watchdog CABE (the the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, now part of the Design Council) and conservation specialists English Heritage have sent representations to Camden Council setting out how and why they think the developer’s proposals should be changed. CABE’s expert submission echos many of the points that residents have been making:
- Streets and public spaces “lack generosity” and are “too constrained to deal with the numbers of people moving through the area and the density of development proposed”;
- The architecture of the new planned market building is “complex and contrived” – and may not be able to accommodate future uses if a market were no longer viable;
- Replicating the Victorian arches “competes with the exisiting viaduct”;
- The huge office building in the centre of the site is “squeezed” into its position – a smaller footprint would “better define the community square”;
- The appropriateness of a nine storey residential building is questionable.
Meanwhile, English Heritage express similar reservations about the design of the market building, and in particular its impact on the canal front.
Download CABE’s submission on Hawley Wharf (pdf file)
Together with some residents from the Hawley Wharf Working Group, I met with the developer before Christmas and we did secure some small concessions. They will enlarge the community space, and have committed to enter into an agreement to help clear up some of the mess visitors make along the canal and in Castlehaven Gardens, which are constanty strewn with old takeways and drinks cans.
By and large, however, it was clear that the developer has a very different view to residents on how his site can best benefit Camden. Dismissing local views is one thing – but it remains to be seen whether the developer can so easily ignore two highly respected design bodies.
A developer is attempting to demolish the old Snooker Hall in Camden Town, in breach of planning rules.
This is a travesty and real shock. I sat on the planning committee that refused development on the site, which includes the much loved Crown and Goose pub – and I still think it was one of the best decisions we have made. The quality of the proposed replacement building was astonishingly poor.
Residents first raised the alarm when scaffolding was erected at the snooker hall last Friday. In response, the council visited the site and spoke to the site manager, who confirmed that they were commencing work. The council then issued verbal and written cautions, pointing out that the demolition of a building in a conservation area without consent is a criminal offence. We know that the developer has received these warnings, but intends to continue anyway.
The next step is to serve an enforcement notice on the developer alleging unauthorised demolition. This notice will require the developer to re-construct the parts of the snooker hall that have been demolished.
Camden’s officers and councillors from across the political divide have been doing all we can to stop this unauthorised demolition. It is appalling that the developer has so little respect for due process and we will continue to push Camden to take the strongest action possible to bring him into line with the law.
The Hawley Wharf Working Group have declared there are “fundamental” problems with the Hawley Wharf scheme, and urged Camden Council to reject the plans in their current form.
The Working Group is made up of a large number of local residents associations and organisations who have been scrutinising the developer’s plans for over two years. They have a deep working knowledge of the plans, have canvassed opinion locally and staged public meetings as the application has developed.
Many aspects of the development have been welcomed – such as a new art house cinema, provision for local retail, and the continued use of the railway arches for industrial and employment uses. Ultimately, however, the Working Group concludes that these benefits cannot make up for the overall negative impact on Camden Town.
The council set up this group, and the meetings have been chaired by local councillors. They have a strong, clear mandate, and Camden needs to take these concerns seriously. It wasn’t a great sign that the group were not allowed to present to planning councillors alongside the developers this week, meaning those who will make the final decision only heard one side of the debate. The Working Group representation makes the alternative case.