I was a member of Camden's Development Control Committee that heard this planning application on Thursday 7th February and I raised the following concerns:
- the cumulative impact of 91 new units on the area and pressure on local services and amenities.
- the inadequate provision of "affordable housing" - 12 units (18%), though some were much needed 4 bedrooms and wheelchair accessible. It was argued by Officers and the developer that an independent viability assessment had been undertaken which confirmed that this amount was all that could be offered for the scheme to be viable.
- the loss of employment space - if the current buildings are not fit for purpose as offices and cannot be let, there is no reason why the site could not include alternative employment space, eg. as a creative hub for small businesses (as proposed in the earlier application for Maiden Lane) and not be solely devoted to housing.
- with the influx of several hundred additional residents to the site, who would have access to local facilities, the Section 106 monies should be ring-fenced for renovation of the Sidings Community Centre, sports facilities and amenities in the Peace Park, and the overgrown area on Maygrove Road. The Officers said that any Section 106 monies were not allocated at planning stage but I persisted in ensuring that the Minutes of the meeting would record this is the preference of Ward Councillors and residents
In mitigation of the lack of affordable housing, given the current volatility of the housing market, the Officers proposed an additional viability assessment to be undertaken prior to commencement of construction within 16 months or at 30 months after completion. After much discussion and legal advice, the Committee approved the application subject to a viability assessment being undertaken at 30 months with additional contributions for off site affordable housing if the viability criteria presented with the application proved to be incorrect.
I was aware that there has been considerable local support for the application due to level of consultation by the developer with the local community and the Section 106 monies offered. However, I was not comfortable with the application overall and abstained from voting.