100 Avenue Road: Developer's bid to reduce affordable housing blocked

100 Avenue Road from above during January 2021.

100 Avenue Road from above during January 2021. - Credit: Edie Raff

Camden Council has blocked an attempt by 100 Avenue Road developer Essential Living (EL) to reduce the amount of affordable housing in its plans.

When Essential Living was granted planning permission for the 184-home Swiss Cottage scheme in February 2016, it committed to including 28 properties for "affordable rent", eight "Intermediate Housing" units and 18 homes at a discounted market rent for at least 15 years. 

In January this year the developer said in order to ensure the scheme's viability it only wanted to provide the 18 discounted flats - but to do so "in perpetuity". 

Camden Council officers rejected this plan, which they said would not serve "the same purpose equally well". 

The developer is now considering its options, and said the scheme is "not financially feasible in its current form".

Janine Sachs, chair of the Save Swiss Cottage campaign group, said: "Camden’s refusing EL’s application to renege on their affordable housing  agreement is really good news, but because it seems likely EL will appeal, we remain only cautiously optimistic."

When the amendment application was submitted, Belsize councillor Steve Adams told this paper that if the scheme was not viable under the terms it was approved, then "that's a problem for Essential Living, not Camden".

Camilla Lesser, EL's development manager, said: "Naturally, we are disappointed with the council’s decision. The approved scheme is not financially feasible in its current form."

She said the alteration was made "in order to make it viable", and added EL was "committed to delivering a high-quality development". She cited "significant contributions" to public spaces and the new home for the Winch community project as benefits. 

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She continued: "EL strongly believe we have not altered the principle of the development and there should be no question that it is in everyone’s interest to see the scheme delivered and making a positive contribution to local life as soon as possible.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said it had "carefully considered" the application.

They added: “In line with the legislation, Officers considered whether the modified obligation would serve the same useful purpose and concluded that it did not.”

Another application to amend the planning permission - by using cheaper building materials - remains to be determined.