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Local residents have been invited to view South Hampstead Synagogue’s plans for a major expansion on their Eton Villas site.
The current synagogue building was completed in 1964 and serves the Jewish community in Steele’s Village, Belsize Park and beyond. The Synagogue tell me they want to create a modern facility catering for the same number of people as now, but with more space to act as a community hub. To do this, they intend to demolish the existing building and erect a new one.
There will be a public exhibition of the initial plans on Sunday 12th May, 11am to 3pm, and Monday 13th May, 4:30pm to 8:30pm, at the South Hampstead Synagogue. The proposals will then be developed through the Spring with a planning application submitted later this year.
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.
Our campaign to win protection for much loved local buildings has been won, as Camden Council launches a consultation on a “local list” for our area.
In recent years two important, historical buildings – the Old Chappell Factory and the former North London Polytechnic Buliding – have fallen under threat of demolition. The buildings were at risk because, although they are undisputably of local historical significance, to qualify for listing (and therefore protection under planning law) a building in Camden must currently have national significance.
After local people successfully fought to save both buildings, I proposed a “local list” for Camden so we could protect buildings deemed to have social, historical or community significance to people in the borough (if not across the country). The idea was quickly covered in the Camden New Journal and well received by local residents, campaigners and conservationists.
To their credit, the council will now introduce a local list, and are asking what criteria should be used to add buildings. Their sensible proposal would require buildings to meet two criteria from architectural interest, historical significance, town scape value or social value. However, the really important decision will be how buildings are proposed for and accepted onto the list. This process should be community led – with the criteria applied in a fair, balanced and transparent way.
You can have your say here.
Controversial plans for a four storey retail development in the middle of Camden Town were dramatically thrown out by councillors last night.
Local residents were out in force to protest against the proposals, which were also opposed by many local businesses and respected groups including English Heritage and the Design Council. Speaking on behalf of residents at the planning hearing, I highlighted the four storey mall masquerading as a market, the negative impact on the conservation area along the canal, and the concentration of retail spaces which would have created a tourist trap by day and an empty ghetto at night.
There has also been widespread criticism for the failure to provide affordable housing for local people.
It didn’t have to be this way. Local people, through the Hawley Wharf Working Group, have spent years working with the developer trying to shape and improve the proposals. The developer has paid the price for ignoring the wishes of our community.
Now we need to move forward together. We want to see a development that respects the unique heritage of Camden Town; improves the market so it is sustainable in the long term, and offers more affordable housing for local families. A new school would be welcomed, too – but not as a sweetner to an otherwise disastrous development.
Camden Town is an incredible place – which is why we will continue fighting to secure a decent scheme on this huge and critical site.
For the full story, have a look at this week’s coverage in the Camden New Journal.
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.
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.