It’s time for a new chair of the planning committee

Thursday, 9th August 2018

• MORE than a dozen years ago I became concerned about Camden’s planning process. Too many dodgy buildings seemed to be being approved inappropriately, like the Visage in Swiss Cottage.

At the time I was involved in the King’s Cross Railways Land Group. I attended the extended two-day development control (DC) planning committee hearing on King’s Cross in March 2006 and I was appalled at the very poor chairing by Councillor Heather Johnson.

Two months later I was elected as a Camden councillor and all changed in planning under the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration.

I’m proud to have served on that DC committee for eight years, during which time we “took back control” and greatly refreshed the planning process, regularly sending back what we regarded as unsatisfactory applications.

We tested, behind the scenes and in committee, the then substantial professional team of officers. That tension often led to better outcomes, for example, at the British Museum, Hawley Wharf, Maiden Lane and the new 1 Pancras Square Council offices.

I have the impression that because of cuts, of late, planning in Camden has again been slipping in the wrong direction.

I’m disturbed to read two letters in the August 2 New Journal expressing concerns at Cllr Johnson’s chairing, questioning her with regard to the construction management plan (CMP) for the important, controversial, 100 Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage development, (The planning committee’s decision seemed to upset the chair and Superficial alterations to the construction management plan for 100 Avenue Road will not do).

In my opinion it’s time for a change of planning committee chair. At least one – maybe more – better qualified candidate exists in the Labour councillor team. The role needs a more pro-active, genuinely independent, and challenging chair.

Bartholomew Villas, NW5

Related Articles