Camden Council must not waste an opportunity to gain housing

Camden Council’s planning committee is due to make a decision this month on plans to redevelop a former hospital building in Fitzrovia. But despite the site being identified for housing the proposals would deliver only two affordable homes.

Corner of building.

Arthur Stanley House is a former hospital building and is identified for housing by Camden Council.

UCLH Charity seeks to redevelop Arthur Stanley House in Tottenham Street by refurbishing the main building and constructing an extension at the rear. The existing site is 5,547 square metres and UCLH Charity want to add 1,950 square metres of floorspace. The new scheme would be 5,476 sqm offices, and only 2,021 sqm of housing — 10 market units and two affordable units.

If councillors pass these plans, only two households from Camden’s lengthy waiting list will benefit and the council will have lost the opportunity to gain much needed housing.

Local community groups the Charlotte Street Association and the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association have objected to the plans and have explained in detail during the consultation period why the application should be refused.

The site could have 28 market homes, 11 intermediate, and 16 social-rented; as well as commercial property on the ground floor and basement.

Arthur Stanley House is one of several “opportunity sites” in Fitzrovia and the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan — a statutory document approved by a government inspector — states quite clearly:

If the established medical / healthcare uses are not required, the Council will expect permanent self-contained homes to be provided, including an appropriate contribution to affordable housing. Commercial uses to reflect the character of the area may be suitable at ground floor level, with windows and entrances facing onto Tottenham Street (Fitzrovia Area Action Plan, page 117).

Furthermore Camden Council in its Local Development Framework states that housing is the priority land use. CS6 states:

The Council will aim to make full use of Camden’s capacity for housing by … regarding housing as the priority land-use of Camden’s Local Development Framework.

Camden has also emphasised the need for affordable homes in the borough.

The Council will aim to secure high quality affordable housing available for Camden households that are unable to access market housing by … seeking to negotiate a contribution from specific proposals on the basis of … an affordable housing target of 50% of the total addition to housing floorspace (Core Strategy, page 49).

Camden’s planning policies are sound, and they are quite clear.

Yet the officer’s report is to be put before councillors is a muddle of contradictory statements and arguments that recommends approval for a mostly office development with very little housing.

Camden does not need courage to reject this application, it just needs to refuse it as it has every right to do on sound planning grounds.

It then needs to be bold enough to conduct an investigation into why its planning officers allowed things to get this far and recommend a development proposal that is totally at odds with the council’s own policy.

Development Control Committee, 7pm, Thursday 4 June 2015. Item 7 (5) Arthur Stanley House, 40 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 4RN.

Development Control Committee, Thursday, 25 June, 2015 7.00 pm. 7(3) Arthur Stanley House, 40 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 4RN.

This article was updated 2:04 pm 5 June 2015: Due to a busy agenda the planning committee chair deferred the decision until the next planning meeting which will be held on 25 June. This article was changed to reflect the change of date.

Update 11 pm 25 June 2015: after listening to a deputation from the Charlotte Street Association, members of the planning committee refused the application. A small victory for those wishing to leave the door open for affordable housing on this site.

 

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