Councillors have pledged to take “full account” of any neighbourhood-led plan around the proposed redevelopment of land around Camley Street, whilst moving ahead with a widescale mixed-use transformation of the area .
The area’s Neighbourhood Forum (NF) with rebel Labour councillors successfully persuaded the Town Hall to reassess the plans in July, with the council’s culture and environment scrutiny committee subsequently deciding the implementation of the plans be delayed until a new plan was consulted on and adopted.
However, against a background of “positive engagement” with the forum, the borough’s top councillors have said that they are confident they can move ahead with plans for the area while “respecting the spirit” of the committee’s recommendations.
NF joint secretary and Camley Street resident Peter McGinty said: “I’d like to thank the councillors who listened to our concerns and put their names to the call-in of the original decision and ensured it was given additional scrutiny.
“The result is that the culture & environment scrutiny committee has upheld the concerns we raised and recommended that implementation be delayed until the neighbourhood plan is consulted on and adopted. It’s good to see that local democracy is working.
“Camley Street will do all in its power to empower [the council] to continue down this route of positive engagement and build this vitally needed and truly sustainable vision for Camley Street in Camden.”
NF founder member Alex Smith said: “The community there has got our plan with our viability, so we know its fundable, with a vision for the most sustainable urban development anywhere in the world.
“We think this would be a truly groundbreaking development for Camden, an amazing feather in [the council’s] cap, and fitting for the times that we live in where we need to do things differently.”
The Forum has suggested the council buy neighbouring plots of land with support from the Greater London Authority to bring forth a wider scheme while taking into account the area’s existing businesses, which councillors were concerned were not mentioned in earlier plans.
Cllr Paul Tomlinson (Lab, St Pancras & Somers Town), who was one of the borough reps to call in the plans for further scrutiny, called this a “serious omission”, calling for security for local businesses including meat supplier IMS, which serves Camden’s schools.
According to McGinty, the acquisition of long leases at the end of Camley Street, with the prospect of the Town Hall owning all development of the area to provide 1,000 additional homes and 500 jobs was now “very possible”.
The Town Hall are seeking a “significant” increase in employment space on two council-owned sites, with at 50 per cent “genuinely affordable” council and living rent housing pledged for the site.
Cllr Danny Beales (Lab, Cantelowes), cabinet member for investing in communities and an inclusive economy, said: “I think this is a really exciting opportunity, and we are very much aligned [with the Camley Street Neighbourhood forum] in our aspirations for this area, creating a fantastic neighbourhood that Camden and the residents of Camley Street can be proud of.
“The NF feel comfortable with proceeding and we feel it is important not to delay unneccessarily the delivery of vital new council homes in the context of the housing crisis we face.
“This will be an incredibly long process, and we are certainly not presenting a planning application any time soon. We will take full account of the current draft neighbourhood plan and hopefully the final adopted neighbourhood plan in any planning application that comes forward.
“We feel confident we can respect the spirit of the recommendation and move forward apace.
“We have a fantastic shared vision for a place where people will live, work and call home.”