Abbey Road set for major housing scheme after approval from Town Hall planners

An impression of what the new development could look like. Image: courtesy Camden Council

Two blocks of council homes, a health centre and community centre near Abbey Road can be knocked down and redeveloped to build new homes.

The scheme will see Emminster and Hinstock blocks of flats demolished together with the ground floor Belsize Priory GP surgery, Abbey Community Centre and the Lilly Langtry pub and replaced with three new blocks of flats ranging from four to eleven storeys high.

It also sees shops knocked down and traders have complained about a lack of suitable places to move.

The council said it is helping businesses to move and two are staying in the area.

It has also seen residents decanted from the 74 flats and the committee was told most have remained in the local area and will get offers of new homes in Camden.

The plan approved by the planning committee this week is the latest stage of Camden Council’s Abbey Co-op regeneration masterplan which is centred on the junction of Abbey Road and Belsize Road.

The first phase of the scheme was finished in 2019 and a replacement medical centre and community centre have already been built although they are not yet open.

Planning officer David Fowler said: “We are really pleased about the architectural quality.”

He told councillors on the planing committee that “it does seem that the design is not particularly controversial or unpopular with anybody,” following consultation.

A previous scheme to build 100 homes – with 48 classed as “affordable” – had already won planning permission.

The council went back to the drawing board and its new plan is for 139 homes – with 46 larger affordable homes, with two or three bedrooms.

However the percentage of affordable properties has now dropped from 46 per cent to 37 per cent.

Mr Fowler said: “The applicant has added more private accommodation to make this scheme more viable.

“The scheme does not have great viability, it would not be brought forward by a private developer.”

Councillor Liam Martin-Lane (Labour, King’s Cross) wanted to know if there was scope to increase the number of affordable homes.

Mr Fowler said there will be early and late stage viability reviews which could see changes.

Councillor Will Prince (Labour South Hampstead)  asked about the decision that demolition was “the right choice” given its environmental impact.

Demolition was approved in 2014 before the climate emergency was declared.

The council’s head of development Bethany Cullen said: “We’re really passionate about trying to reuse buildings where we can.”

She said it looked at whether it could create as many homes it it retained the current five and eight storey blocks and the impact of demolition.”

“I realise that’s quite a difficult trade off,” she said.

The scheme also includes heat pumps and solar panels.

KIlburn ward councillor Lloyd Hatton (Labour) asked about steps to mitigate any flood risk as the site is close to homes which are “still uninhabitable” because of flooding.

He was told that steps to reduce the impact include the use of porous surfaces outside to allow drainage and green roofs.

The scheme was unanimously approved by the planning committee.

It has to be referred by the Mayor of London for a final decision.

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