Just as we had been thinking we had seen the last of major developments impacting on our area of benefit (will we ever?), the Council decides to launch its redevelopment plans for Camden Town Hall, including the Camden Centre.
A report on these plans was considered by the Council Cabinet on 14th December – the first time the Marchmont Association has become aware of the Council’s plans for this important listed building.
There is surprisingly no reference in the report to the impact of the proposed development on local residents, despite the potential significant increase in the numbers of new occupants who will be working for the new commercial tenants on the 2nd and 3rd floors and basement (small to medium size enterprises).
Section 3.4 onwards will be of special interest to residents of Queen Alexandra Mansions, whose residential amenity has been detrimentally affected in recent years by the Council’s policy of using the Camden Centre for events of all kinds. Whilst the report refers to the Equalities Impact of the development, this is confined to the effect of the displacement of the events from the Camden Centre, the majority of which are clearly private/commercial in nature. Nevertheless, the Events Team will be ‘compensated’ to the tune of £200K p.a. and asked to redirect their efforts to Camden’s communities, which on face value would appear to be a good thing, although this is quite surprising in light of the current financial climate and the pressures on essential public services provided by the Council.
The Marchmont Association is, however, primarily concerned about the absence of any reference in the report to community engagement/consultation with local residents. We understood that custom and practice dictated that a development of such significance would normally be the subject of a Planning Development Forum, providing local residents and organisations with an early opportunity to be briefed on the Council’s proposals and to express any concerns they might have before the proposals are fully worked up and submitted for planning permission, not least because of the significant ‘change of use’ implications.
We have written to local councilors this week, requesting they consider these concerns and confirm whether they will be able to support the MA’s request for an appropriate community engagement strategy to be incorporated into the Council’s development plans for Camden Town Hall.
We will let you know their reply….