Tenants’ groups have reacted with anger to proposed amendments to Camden’s Planning Guidance for social housing which, they claim, will mean that no developer need provide affordable housing in the south of the borough.
“If this seemingly small revision is adopted, it will prove catastrophic to the south of Camden,” said Peter Wright Chair of the Holborn District Management Committee in an email to community groups.
Here’s the full text of the amendment (MV emphasis in bold) …..
“Where the payment-in-lieu arises, this will generally mean that options for delivery in the immediate area of the site have already been explored. Consequently, the Council may not always be able to spend affordable housing funds in close proximity to the development that generated the payment. The Council will seek opportunities to spend such funds in the same ward as the development or in an adjacent Camden ward, and will seek to ensure that funds arising in the area south of Euston Road are spent south of Euston Road. However, where no opportunities arise south of Euston Road, the Council may spend these funds in parts of the borough to the north of Euston Road”
This revision could lead to developers seeking to make ‘cash-payment-in-lieu’, rather than build affordable housing on their site. That’s certainly the fear of the Covent Garden Community Association, which has written to the Council strongly opposing the changes. CGCA points out that both Camden’s Local Plan and the Mayor’s London Plan have policies making it clear that mixed communities and more affordable housing should be provided within central London. The proposed Camden policy seems to fly in the face of these planning strategies, since introducing the option of payment in lieu that can be used anywhere within the borough will seriously undermine the Council’s negotiating position for affordable housing south of Euston Road.
The key issue in all this is whether affordable housing sites can be found anywhere in the south of the borough. Camden clearly seems to think largely not. But both CGCA and the Fitrzrovia Association say they have consistently suggested where affordable housing could be located. In that case, they argue, the proposal is symptomatic of a Council attitude that sees south of the Euston Road as a mainly commercial zone, with limited housing only available at exorbitant prices to the few who can afford it.