100 Avenue Road: Council passes plan to funnel lorries through Swiss Cottage streets as councillors criticise TfL’s refusal to shut Tube entrance
PUBLISHED: 09:48 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:53 16 November 2018
Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.
With councillors deadlocked on the Construction Management Plan (CMP), the casting vote by the chair Cllr Heather Johnson was decisive in getting the proposal passed.
Councillors were almost united in their concerns about the impacts on Swiss Cottage Farmers Market, Winchester Road and Swiss Cottage Open Space.
During the debate, which lasted more than two hours, Cllr Flick Rea summed up the mood, saying: “It seems we have been presented with two detailed, unpalatable options. It is no good saying never to both of them, because sooner or later a decision has to be made.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Oliver Cooper likened it to “choosing whether to punch somebody with a egg-shell skull, knowing which will cause more harm”.
In a deputation, Save Swiss Cottage’s Janine Sachs said it was “significantly and substantially worse” than previous iterations of the CMP proposals.
Plans were approved by the Secretary of State in 2016to knock down the former office block, and build 184 flats – as well as retail and community space. Original plans for how construction traffic would access the site were rejected at a meeting in July.
The issue of whether an entrance to Swiss Cottage Underground station could be closed was brought up again, after causing the original CMP to be thrown out in July. TfL had said it would not agree to close one of the four entrances to the station, to the north of the site, which means some builders’ lorries have to use the residential streets of Winchester Road in the earlier stages of construction.
Campaigners’ proposals for the exclusive use of Avenue Road were dismissed as it would mean construction would run for longer, according to TfL. It said it would cause disruption to one of the main routes into the capital. Cllr Beales also said delays to the project could mean affordable housing on the site and a new community centre would be delayed.
The approved plans sees construction traffic still using Winchester Road. TfL said a “hybrid” plan, which would limit the amount of time lorries would use the street would extend the project, and cause further disruption on Avenue Road. This was questioned by Cllr Rea, who said the quashed CS11 project would have closed off one-side of the road altogether, and cause more disruption than the “hybrid” CMP.
Cllr Georgie Robertson asked why Waterloo had an Underground entrance closed for a construction project, but TfL wouldn’t agree to the same measures in Swiss Cottage.
However, Gavin McLaughlin said that while the entrance is the quietest out of the four entrances to the station, it would still cause too much disruption to the 7.75 million entrances and exits there every year. Cllr Robertson responded by saying the new plans didn’t address residents’ concerns.
When the decision not to close the entrance was put under further scrutiny, Richard Evans from the developer, Essential Living, said construction wouldn’t last longer than the existing three years. But campaigners’ hopes of the construction plans being redrawn were dashed when Cllr Johnson reminded the committee they could only vote on the proposal in front of them, and TfL had already said it would not reconsider.
Borough solicitor Andrew Maugham also told members that if they rejected the proposals again, the developer could take legal action against the council.
Councillors were split on the plan, four councillors supporting the plans, four objecting and one abstaining. It meant the planning chair had the casting vote, which went with the officer’s recommendations.
The plan as voted through requires the granting of a “parkland licence” by the council for the use of the Open Space. If this doesn’t happen, lorries exiting the construction site will travel back through Eton Avenue and Winchester Road instead of through the park into Avenue Road.