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Anger over plans for 24-storey tower at Ham&High office site in Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage

09:00 28 March 2014

Artist

Artist's impression of what the building in Avenue Road will look like

Archant

Developers who want to demolish the Ham&High’s office building and replace it with a 24-storey tower block have been accused of “spying” on campaigners and “ignoring” the concerns of the community.

A planning application for the building at 100 Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, was submitted by developers Essential Living last week with designs largely unchanged from proposals shown in November.

Despite inviting residents to submit their views and suggestions on the plans, opponents of the development say their concerns about the height of the tower, the disruption of construction and the pressure on services and amenities due to added housing have been “ignored”.

It also comes as someone working for the developers was spotted at a recent residents’ meeting, leading to claims the developer was “spying”.

The accusation has been dismissed by the developer, but the row highlights the strong lack of trust between some residents and Essential Living.

Elaine Chambers, chairman of Winchester Road Residents’ Association, said: “They haven’t changed a single thing we raised concerns about. Their plans to offer the site up to restaurants and retail means we’ll lose the peace and quiet. The tower also remains 
unsightly and not in keeping with the area. It’s going to overshadow all our houses.

“The area is already densely populated and has been the relentless subject of repeated development for three decades.

“It now needs to be allowed to flourish from its present configuration.”

The development would replace the six-storey building with a 24-storey tower block joined to a five/seven-story building, separated by an arcade through to a green space behind the site.

The tower would be mostly residential, while the smaller building would accommodate retail space. There will be 184 flats, 36 of them classed as affordable, as well as almost 1,000sq m of retail space. But Cllr Jonny Bucknell, representative for Belsize, said there was “no room” to accomodate more residents. “The developers have ignored the community and are just railroading their plans through.” he said.

“The area is already full and our open spaces will be dwarfed by this huge tower. The developer has used underhand tactics throughout the process and I don’t think residents trust them in the slightest.”

But Martin Hughes, spokesman for Essential Living, said the development would bring many benefits. “Our high quality proposals will deliver much-needed new homes including affordable housing, improved public space and access as well as providing new jobs and attracting further investment,” he said.

“Whilst we recognise that some local concerns have been expressed about the tower element, we firmly believe that it is the right location for a landmark building.

“This has been the subject of independent review by the Design Council who stated the site is a good place to locate a tall building and that the proposed tower will provide a unique character to the Swiss Cottage that is lacking.”

The Ham&High is a tenant in the building and will move to new offices in Charles House, Finchley Road.

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