First victory for Swiss Cottage tower opponents as Boris Johnson says decision ‘up to council’

17:13 24 July 2014

Boris Johnson appeared to distance himself from the Swiss Cottage tower development during Mayor

Boris Johnson appeared to distance himself from the Swiss Cottage tower development during Mayor's Question Time. Picture: London Assembly.


Campaigners fighting the construction of a 24-storey tower block in Swiss Cottage were handed what could be a major victory yesterday after the Mayor of London said a decision on the scheme “was a matter for Camden Council”.

Boris Johnson appeared to distance his office from any decision made on the erection of the tower at 100 Avenue Road, allaying fears he was preparing to override the council should it decide to reject the planning application.

Campaigners welcomed the Mayor’s comments as a “defeat for Essential Living” - the developers behind the proposals - but said the “war was not yet won”.

Mr Johnson’s remarks came following a question by Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff on the development.

The Mayor said: “The crucial point to make is that this is a decision for Camden and it is a borough that is not within my control or indeed the conservative party.

“It is up to them [the council] to decide what they want to do.

“I would urge local people who feel strongly about this matter to make representations to them.”

Labour councillors have previously been encouraging residents to write to the Mayor’s office to oppose the scheme, saying this was “where the real power lies”.

But Mr Johnson said the notion that the GLA would definitely be deciding on the scheme was “complete nonsense and a flat out lie”.

He added: “There is a democratic system, everybody knows how the planning process works.

“Camden Council has a responsibility and they must discharge that responsibility.

“If they choose to throw out the scheme it is entirely a matter for them.”

Sarah Gottlieb, of the Save Swiss Cottage campaign group, heralded the comments from the Mayor, adding: “This is proof protest can work.

“We were particularly heartened to hear Boris urging residents in Camden to make representations to the council on the scheme.

“We echo this.

“We’ve won a battle but now we need to go on and win the war.”

But the Mayor did not – and, according to fellow Conservatives, could not – go as far as to say he would not use powers to overrule the council’s decision should they reject the application.

Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, asked a number of times for the Mayor to commit to not overruling any decision made by Camden Council.

Mr Dismore said: “I regret to say the Conservative Assembly member raised the planning application in a very party political manner, trying to pin the entire responsibility for the decision on Camden Council.

“When I questioned the Mayor myself, he accepted that he had issued the stage 1 determination, which approved the scheme in principle.

“Whilst he repeatedly asserted the planning application was for Camden to decide, he refused to answer my question, which I put to him five times, as to whether he would undertake not to call in the decision, if Camden were to refuse it.

“It was clear to me from the exchanges therefore, that if Camden were to refuse it, the Mayor would almost certainly overrule their decision - just as he has called in the decision over the Mount Pleasant planning application.

“The only option for those who have concerns about the scheme seems to me to be for Camden to impose the strictest planning conditions it can, and to hope the Mayor does not overrule these.”

But Mr Boff said he was “almost certain” he would not call-in the council’s decision.

“I’d put money on the Mayor leaving the decision up to Camden Council,” he said.

“In his six years of office he has never called in a scheme as small as the Avenue Road development.

“For others to suggest he would call it in is quite ridiculous.

“Let’s be clear - the ball is in Camden Council’s court.

“If it approves the planning application, the tower will get built. If it rejects the application, it won’t.”

The date for the planning application to go before the council was set for July 31.

This has been pushed back to an as-yet unknown date.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Camden Borough Commander CS Penny Banham. Picture: Polly Hancock

Camden’s new top cop has criticised proposals put forward by Hampstead residents to fund their own police officers – saying it would “not set a good precedent” for the rest of London.

Athlone House, taken in 2011. Picture: Michael Hammerson

The owners of historic Athlone House near Hampstead Heath are to take their bid to demolish the mansion to the High Court.

A 22-year-old man was stabbed at Walker House in Phoenix Street, Somers Town

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after a man was stabbed at a block of flats in Somers Town, Camden.

Comedian David Baddiel with highly commended Young Person of the Year James Curtis. Picture: Richard Tatham

Fourteen-year-old James Curtis was just eight months old when he was diagnosed as deaf.

Yesterday, 17:55
Sydney Road in Muswell Hill. Picture: Polly Hancock

A 40 year old man has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon and grievous bodily harm.

Yesterday, 17:31
Rimon Jewish Primary School in Golders Green. Picture: Polly Hancock

A Jewish free school has been criticised by the government after its admissions policy was found to favour families who paid subscription fees to certain synagogues.

Yesterday, 15:20
The meeting will see the Syrian refugee crisis discussed Picture: Angelika Warmuth/ DPA Germany

Community groups in Haringey are meeting to decide how best to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Yesterday, 12:56
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson opens the new Archer Academy campus. Picture: Nigel Sutton

A free school’s £14million new campus has been officially opened by Paralympic champion Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

You won't need to fork out for groceries for a while!

Asda, one of the country’s leading supermarkets, prides itself in being one of the cheapest places to shop, so you can be sure that your money will go a long way here!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder