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100 Avenue Road: Meeting over controversial Construction Management Plan looms as altered plans for doors and basement signed off

PUBLISHED: 10:31 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 09 November 2018

An artists impression of the proposed building in Avenue Road

An artists impression of the proposed building in Avenue Road

Archant

Altered plans for the controversial development of 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage won’t go before Camden Council’s planning committee – after council officers defied councillors and approved them.

Essential Living, which is the developer behind the project, has changed plans for the ground floor entrances, plans for the basement, and to internal layouts.

The changes were put before a Members’ Briefing Panel last month, where, despite Lib Dem leader Cllr Flick Rea and Tory leader Cllr Oliver Cooper voting two-to-one in favour of putting the changes before a planning committee, officers have decided otherwise.

In an email to planning committee members, Camden’s director of regeneration and planning David Joyce said this was “due to the considerations being of a technical nature, as a non-material amendment”.

By law, the council’s building control department has a responsibility for oversight of fire prevention, rather than a planning committee.

But Cllr Rea, while saying she understood why the decision had been taken, thought it deserved to be brought to the meeting.

“My concern is to make sure, in a contentious application like this, that the concerns of residents are heard in public,” she said. “Fire risk doesn’t come under the planning committee, but I’d like to have the law changed so it does, particularly after Grenfell.”

The project has had a controversial past. It was initially refused by Camden Council in 2014, only for the Planning Inspectorate and government to overturn its decision two years later.

At a bad-tempered meeting in July, Camden’s planning committee told Essential Living to think again over its construction management plan (CMP) for the development.

Essential Living has also told Camden Council that its approved inspector has 30 years’ experience working for the London Fire Brigade, including four years at its engineering department. However, councillors are unhappy they won’t be able to fully scrutinise it. Cllr Cooper said the decision was “baffling” and risked undermining trust in the process.

“Council officials have essentially cut residents and councillors out of the process altogether,” he said.

“The application reduces the fire safety of the building, which demands proper appraisal. Camden claims that fire safety is a top priority, but both officers and Labour councillors backing fire safety being reduced at a tower block right next to the Chalcots without any scrutiny suggests it’s not.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The council was required to consider whether the amendments were ‘non-material’ under the rules set out in planning law.

“Planning officers’ professional view was that the amendments were non-material because they were technical and minor in the context of this large-scale development.

“Ultimately, after carefully considering all the views of the panel, the director decided that as under the planning system issues about what are non-material amendments are mainly a technical professional judgement, the council should follow the usual approach of deciding this at officer level.”

Meanwhile, a planning committee on Thursday will decide on the fate of the controversial Construction Management Plan, which it is believed would send builders’ lorries through Winchester Road, Eton Avenue and the Open Space for three to four years.

The plan has met fierce local opposition, with campaign group Save Swiss Cottage set to send a delegation to the meeting to argue for lorries to use the A41 only.

The meeting is at the Crowndale Centre in Eversholt Street from 6.30pm.

Note: This story appeared in yesterday’s Ham&High with a headline that wrongly gave the impression the Construction Management Plan had been signed off. This is not the case – the changes to the development that were approved concerned the building design itself. We apologise for any confusion caused by this error.

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