The adoption of the plan came at the end of a long process which was started by the Charlotte Street Association in 2010 and drew together community groups, businesses and landowners in Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury. The plan was written by Camden’s planning officers with input from many interested parties. The 168 page document had to be sent out for public consultation and be approved by a government inspector before the council could adopt it.
Councillor Phil Jones, cabinet member for sustainability, transport and planning, put forward the plan for adoption by the council, and Bloomsbury ward councillor Adam Harrison spoke in favour of it.
Councillor Harrison spoke about an “enormous amount of development going on in the Tottenham Court Road area”. He commented that it was essential for those living locally to also benefit from this and the plan includes provision for new open space, including a new park at Alfred Place, larger affordable housing units to allow the opportunity for families to bring up children and strengthen the long-term sustainability of the local community for future generations.
However, opposition parties on Camden Council called for a delay to the debate and adoption of the plan until residents were given the opportunity to make a deputation with concerns about the Strand Union Workhouse, reported Richard Osley of the Camden New Journal.
Ahead of the 3 March meeting of the council Fitzrovia News was told by Maya de Souza, Green Party councillor for Highgate ward, that she had received emails expressing concern about the plan.
Councillor Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of the Conservative group in Camden, told Fitzrovia News that she had also received lots of emails from residents concerned about the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan.
“The key issues seem to be the creeping destruction of heritage sites and erosion of historical buildings,” she said.
There was concern about the loss of 1-3 Goodge Street and worries about the unlisted Victorian wings of the former Strand Union Workhouse. “Residents are not opposed to development and buildings being used in a practical way, but they fear the character and history of the area is being eroded and this is why they are objecting,” she said.
There were also letters to the Camden New Journal on 27 March and 4 April. A letter on 13 March received several comments on their website. One resident reported an anonymous leaflet being distributed which was highly critical of the council.
However, the campaign group which was set up to get the former Strand Union Workhouse listed as a heritage asset has said nothing on the matter. The only news from their website is from July last year. Nor was there any comment about the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan to council officers at the recent development management forum to discuss current plans for the redevelopment of the workhouse site.
Fitzrovia News understands from speaking to many residents that while the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan identifies shortcomings in open space and affordable housing as well as the threat of over development, many people are concerned about whether the document has the power to deliver. Some people have told Fitzrovia News the plan does “too little and too late” to protect the neighbourhood, its heritage assets and bring benefits.
Fitzrovia Area Action Plan on Camden Council’s website.