Plans for the redevelopment of a former hospital building in Tottenham Street have been criticised as unacceptable and will fail to comply with borough and local strategic plans to deliver housing and public open space.
The proposals which were unveiled at a public exhibition in November are for a mostly office development with only two affordable housing units at basement level.
Architectural firm Llewelyn Davies seeks to transform the currently unattractive property, empty since 2007, into a minimal glass and brick fronted structure with stepped upper levels. Over 5,000 square metres of the new development will be offices, with 1,500 square metres as residential. In total fourteen apartments will be created — two penthouse suites with balconies, ten 1 and 2 bed private apartments and two 3/4 bed affordable housing apartments situated at the basement levels.
In order to address the severe shortage of public open space in Fitzrovia, the developers propose an inset, landscaped area situated at the residential entrance of the building in Tottenham Mews. The 45 square metre area, which critics say is too small for a development of this size, will be surrounded on three sides by the new building. However, 575 square metres of private amenity space will be provided within the development.
UCLH Charity who own the site will be submitting a planning application in early 2015 to Camden Council, and say the proceeds from the development will help fund a Proton Beam Therapy Centre currently being built on Huntley Street and Grafton Way.
However, Camden Council’s planning guidelines, which include the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan, identify the site for mixed-use with commercial at ground floor and basement, and housing on the upper floors. Camden also expects the site to create new public open space.
The site could provide over 50 homes with up to half of these being affordable.
Camden’s planning guidance calls for all developments of 50 homes and more to provide up to 50 percent affordable housing.
When questioned by Fitzrovia News reporters about the lack of housing in the proposals, representatives of UCLH Charity and Llewelyn Davies said at the public exhibition that the Fitzrovia AAP was only an “aspirational document”. However, they said the non-residential space in the building could serve additional housing needs in the future as it can be converted to housing without major structural alteration.
With the planning application being prepared for submission early in the new year, residents and community groups will be pressing the developers and Camden’s planners to ensure the development does not breach council policy guidelines and the Fitzrovia AAP and delivers appropriate affordable housing and public open space.
Max Neufeld of the Charlotte Street Association is strongly critical of the plans: “The proposals for the development of ASH shown by the applicants at a recent exhibition are wholly unacceptable, indeed their total lack of compliance with the requirement for this site are breathtaking.”
He dismissed the developers remarks that the Fitzrovia AAP is only an aspiration. “The Fitzrovia AAP adopted after an examination by a government appointed inspector is a statutory document. It identifies a number of opportunity sites where development was likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
During the writing of the Fitzrovia AAP, representatives of UCLH were active participants in developing the document alongside community organisations and Camden’s planners.
“One of the sites is Arthur Stanley House. The brief states that in the event of the site not being required for continuing medical/health uses, then any development above ground floor level should be housing including an appropriate contribution to affordable housing in accordance with plan policies.
“The brief also requires the provision of new public open space and makes suggestions as to how this could be be provided if not possible on site, including provision in association with the neighbouring Workhouse development,” said Neufeld.
The Charlotte Street Association which has been scrutinising planning applications and local development plans since 1970 is also critical of Camden’s planning officers.
“What is extremely worrying is that the present proposals have ever seen the light of day, since they have clearly been the subject of detailed discussion with council officers.
“The applicants need to be firmly told that the Council will only support proposals which are in conformity with the requirements for the site in the Fitzrovia AAP,” says Neufeld.
The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, which also participated in the Fitzrovia AAP, criticised UCLH Charity’s proposals saying: “The proposals fail to provide sufficient affordable housing and public open space”.
An edited version on this article also appears in our printed newspaper.
Update: Camden Council registered a planning application on 28 January 2015. 2015/0391/P Refurbishment and redevelopment of the existing eight storey Arthur Stanley House and new build element to the rear facing Tottenham Mews to enable a change of use from health care (Class D1) to a mixed use development comprising office floor space (Class B1) and 12 residential units (Class C3) (market units: 1 x 1bed, 9 x 2bed. affordable units: 2 x 3 beds) and associated landscaping fronting Tottenham Mews. Full details here.