Construction development plan should be put to the councillors
23 January, 2020
Copy of a letter to Camden Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould concerning the 100 Avenue Road development
• AS leader of Camden Council we request that you intercede with this recent undemocratic decision made by unelected council officials to overrule our elected members’ briefing recommendation that the latest revision of the 100 Avenue Road construction management plan (CMP) be decided by full planning committee – and to instead determine the application themselves.
You may be aware that since then there has been considerable protest in the local press about this from different groups, including Save Swiss Cottage, Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group and our six cross-party local ward councillors from Belsize and Swiss Cottage.
Those of us who live in Swiss Cottage were very grateful you took the trouble to walk through the site two years ago and for your assistance in assuring that the original CMP went to planning committee.
As the packed meetings on every occasion this CMP has demonstrated, there is a substantial level of public interest in this matter. It is important that everyone has a chance to scrutinise any new information so this is not merely a rubber-stamping operation.
There can be no doubt there is precedent to take this again to full committee, as officers themselves admit that this new application constitutes a material amendment to the current plan due to a new construction route and a huge increase in lorry numbers and sizes entering the construction site using the Swiss Cottage Green Space. Not to proceed would be an insult to committee members who twice voted on the CMP.
In 2018 the director of regeneration and planning had also overturned a members’ briefing recommendation – to refer to committee the 100 Avenue Road developers’ application to remove fire exits from their building.
In his “reasons” he contrasted this application with the CMP being proposed at the time, saying he “completely agreed the CMP should receive the oversight of planning committee… the CMP faces strong opposition and due to the nature and scale of the development construction impacts would have a material effect on the surrounding area”. So what is different now?
Why would an unelected official want to bear all the responsibility in such a highly contentious matter, and lose the benefit of the final decision being taken by a higher elected authority?
The perception that Camden Council is a place where unelected officials can overrule elected councillors is worrying and very harmful to public confidence in Camden’s decision making.
We know that you are committed to Camden Council behaving in a transparent manner where local views, even if they are not determinative, are genuinely taken into account. To uphold democracy in Camden this CMP needs to be determined in public by full committee.
SIGNATORIES: JANINE SACHS Chair, Save Swiss Cottage; EDIE RAFF Chair, Cresta House Residents’ Association; ELAINE CHAMBERS Chair, Winchester Road Residents’ Association; PETER SYMONDS Chair, Combined Residents’ Associations of South Hampstead; FRANCOISE FINDLAY Chair, Elsworthy Residents’ Association; MONIKA CARO Chair, Save Swiss Cottage Action Group; DAVID REED, Treasurer Save Swiss Cottage Action Group; HUGH CULLUM Chair, Bloomsbury Conservation Areas Advisory Committee; SLANEY DEVLIN Chair, Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum; OWEN WARD Chair, Save Bloomsbury; DEBBIE RADCLIFFE Chair, Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group; AMANDA RIGBY (Voluntary) Vice-Chair, Covent Garden Community Association; JESSICA LEARMOND-CRIQUI Learmond Criqui Sokel, Solicitors Partner, Employment & Executive Immigration Law; LINDA WILLIAMS Chair, Netherhall Neighbourhood Association; MARC HUTCHINSON Chair, Heath & Hampstead Society.