By Peter Whyatt
Proposals for an international research centre for neuroscience on a site in the middle of Fitzrovia will be presented to the public at Camden Council’s Development Control forum on Wednesday 12 January. The developer will be presenting ideas they have to build on the site of the Windeyer Building along Cleveland Street and Howland Street.
Campaigners in Fitzrovia are concerned, however, because this is just one of a number of large scale developments that are taking place at the heart of Fitzrovia. There are four other large-scale proposals in the neighbouring area: the former workhouse site in Cleveland Street, Astor College in Charlotte Street, a new mental health centre in Tottenham Mews and a redevelopment of the Saatchi & Saatchi building in Charlotte Street.
First announced in May 2010 by University College London (UCL), the Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour will stand on the site currently occupied by the Windeyer Building. UCL announced that “The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Wellcome Trust are collaborating with UCL for the purpose of developing a new research centre to support individual researchers in the field of neural circuits and behaviour in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The Centre will address a fundamental challenge in modern biology, determining how neural circuits process information and direct behaviour. Advances in this field will transform understanding of brain function, and ultimately lead to new ways of monitoring and regulating brain activity in health and disease.”
A spokesperson for Camden Council said “The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the proposal before a planning application is made. After a presentation by the developer there will be an opportunity for people to ask questions and to give their views on the proposals as they stand at this stage.
“The proposal is: Erection of building comprising two basements, ground, first to fifth floor and roof level plant room to provide an international research centre for neuroscience, single-storey servicing facility and public open space provided on Cleveland Street.
“A planning application has not been received from the developer for this site. If they decide to submit one in the future we will carry out statutory consultation in the normal way and determine it in accordance with our duties as a local planning authority.
“We believe that the Forum can provide an opportunity to discuss developments while they are still at an early stage and allow local people and ward councillors to have the chance to see what is being proposed and give their comments. We think the meeting will be helpful in identifying and focusing issue and that it will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the proposal and give your own ideas.
“The meeting will not be making decisions about the development proposal, or are the developers required to take account of the discussion in any future application, which the Council must determine on its planning merit,” said the spokesperson.
Charlotte Street Association campaign group are concerned that these large building works next to each other at the heart of Fitzrovia are to be developed in a haphazard fashion without any vision to bring about either open space or connecting paths.
“All these developments are next to each other but are being treated without any strategy or co-ordinated view,” says the Charlotte Street Association, who are calling upon Camden Council to treat the developments as a combined whole and to deliver public open space and pedestrian amenity.
Camden Development Control forum on Wednesday 12 January at the Upper Room, All Souls Clubhouse, 141 Cleveland Street, W1T 6QG from 6.30pm until 8.30pm. You can also find information about the Development Control Forum, including a detailed leaflet on our website by going to www.camden.gov.uk/planning and looking in the major developments section.