April 18 2014 Latest news:

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Residents and business owners in Primrose Hill have celebrated a shock victory against developers after the council refused plans to turn Utopia Village in Chalcot Road into high-priced housing.

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Owners of the business complex, which is currently home to 22 businesses and provides around 250 jobs, had submitted plans to turn the site into 53 residential units.

Opponents argued the development would mean valuable trade would be lost to the high street from those who work at the site.

After a high-profile campaign that drew the backing of EastEnders actor Scott Maslen and retail guru Mary Portas, the council yesterday refused planning permission on 15 seperate grounds.

These included concerns that the residential development would lead to “parking stress”, “traffic congestion” and “unacceptable additional pressures on existing community facilities in the area”.

Concerns over the quality of accommodation were also raised with planning officers going so far as to call the proposed dwellings “sub-standard”.

Phil Cowan, a resident and business owner who fought against the proposals, said it was “a good day for Primrose Hill”.

“This is a great example of how communities pulling together their efforts and resources can still make a difference to their environment,” he said.

“Some 22 businesses and 250 jobs have been saved, plus all the benefits they bring to the surrounding area.”

The news came the very day Camden council launched a High Court challenge against government planning reforms introduced in May to make it easier for offices to be turned into housing.

As part of a coalition of three other London councils, it rallied against the new guidelines after fearing the loss of “valuable employment space”.

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