Town Hall refurbishment not ‘vanity project’, say council officers

Camden Town Hall. Photograph: Camden Council

The refurbishment of the 85-year-old Town Hall building on Euston Road is not a “vanity project”, according to recently released council documents.

The works, which include the demolition of the building’s 1960s entrance, the covering over of three lightwells, and opening up of two new entrances on Bidborough Street, were slammed as a “waste of taxpayer’s money” by objectors, who said that the “money should be spent on something else”.

However, planning officers have responded in their report that no taxpayers’ money will be used for the proposals, which are understood to be self-funding through rental income to be generated from office space in the new-look building.

Discussions have taken place between residents of nearby Queen Alexandra Mansions, which faces onto the Town Hall on Bidborough Street, and are described as having been “very informative, with a good exchange of views”.

Residents had requested compensation from the refurbishment project for the works, namely the installation of secondary glazing to all Bidborough Street windows, but planning officers have said that compensation is “not considered reasonable given the scope of the works and that construction impacts will be mitigated through a Construction Management Plan.”

The Town Hall was built between 1934-37 and has been frequently altered since then, including the erection of a rooftop conservatory in the 1990s and an extension built between 1973-77.

A Camden Council planning report reads: “The retention of the civic and democratic functions and the provision of employment use are supported in land use terms. The retention of the events space and securing a package for community use of this space are considered positive.

“The proposed uses are in keeping with the character of the building and will ensure its future use and longevity. The associated alterations and repairs improve the aesthetic qualities of the building, better revealing its significance as a grade II-listed structure and enhance its contribution to the King’s Cross St Pancras Conservation Area.

“There would be no increase in amenity impact, given the existing use of the Camden Centre and the proposed events space. Noise and disturbance from the events space would be controlled with a Management Plan.

“The transport impacts have been assessed and mitigated and are considered acceptable.”

Camden’s planning committee will hear the proposals on 8 August.