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Critics say Earl’s new plans for Swain’s Lane shopping parade are ‘just tolerable’

10:59 12 May 2014

Lord Listowel has unveiled his latest plans for the Swain

Lord Listowel has unveiled his latest plans for the Swain's Lane shopping parade. Picture: Liam O'Connor Architects

Archant

A hereditary peer has unveiled his latest plans to transform a much-loved Highgate shopping parade after strong community criticism prompted a complete redesign.

The Earl of Listowel, who owns the Swain’s Lane parade, has submitted new designs of plans to demolish the one-storey row of shops and rebuild it as a three-storey block to Camden Council.

But Patrick Lefevre, chairman of the Dartmouth Park Advisory Committee, said that though the latest designs are an improvement, they are still only “tolerable”.

“This is where we should have been several months ago,” he said. “Our prolonged engagement with the developers has finally proved worthwhile.

“Whether the proposals are sufficiently improved to mute opposition is, though, still moot.”

Mr Lefevre, of Dartmouth Park Road, Dartmouth Park, added: “Preliminary soundings suggest that a bare majority of the Advisory Committee, although still critical, feel the new proposals are, with some tweaking, ‘tolerable, just’.

“There is, though, a significant minority who feel the changes don’t go far enough.

“We now need a thoughtful community debate and we hope the developer will do everything they can to make application proposals accessible to the whole community.”

In October, Lord Listowel proposed to demolish the crumbling one-storey shopping parade and replace it with a white three-storey block of flats, dropping to two storeys at the corner of Highgate West Hill, with a row of shops on the ground floor.

Lord Listowel now proposes to replace the old parade with a three-storey brick building, which will again drop to two storeys at the corner of Swain’s Lane.

The shops have also been redesigned to suit small, independent businesses.

A spokesman for Lord Listowel’s design team said: “We are grateful for everyone’s hard work and ideas which have helped refine and improve the scheme.

“We firmly believe this will be a very high quality proposal befitting the unique character of this area.

“The proposed development will continue to provide a mix of uses comprising much needed new residential dwellings, albeit one fewer unit than originally proposed, and new retail units which reflect the prevailing character of the neighbourhood centre.

“It will provide retail units that will appeal to small and independent businesses, create active frontages along both Swain’s Lane and Highgate West Hill and provide significant public realm improvements to the benefit of the local residents and other visitors to the area.”

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