Affordable homes plan for site of fatal fire
PUBLISHED: 11:38 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:49 24 September 2020
A housing block gutted by a fire that killed a woman nearly three years ago is set to be sold to a trust to provide affordable housing.
Camden Council’s cabinet agreed to demolish 31 Daleham Gardens and sell it to a community land trust (CLT), which would rebuild it with 14 homes in its place. More than 70% will be affordable. Three would be for social rent, three at London affordable rent and four at discount market sale rates. Four would be sold on the open market.
It is thought that NW3 CLT will be among the bidders, with discussions having taken place between the council and the Hampstead-based group. Community Land Trusts are not-for-profit groups set up to oversee the development and management of homes, in an aim to provide affordable housing.
The house was devastated in a blaze in November 2017 that killed Magdalena Fink, a paralegal who had moved to Britain from Germany in 2006. At the inquest into the 35-year-old’s death, senior coroner Mary Hassell rebuked Camden Council, as it did not have any staff responsible for checking smoke detectors in the building.
Police later issued an appeal for witnesses, but have since closed its investigation.
Since then it has lain empty. In September 2018 the council’s cabinet voted to buy the leaseholders out of their homes, but one owner is still holding out. The town hall has set aside £2.8m for the project, which also covers fees and demolition costs. The Greater London Authority (GLA) will provide a £284,000 grant towards it.
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Before work is carried out, permission will need to be granted by the council’s planning department, and an application for demolition was submitted in May.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, planning chief Danny Beales said: “Many local residents and local groups have been quite clear that they are keen to see the retention of affordable homes on the site. It is a site with unfortunately very few affordable homes and that is clearly a key priority of the local community to not see the further loss of affordable homes.”
Councillor Oliver Cooper urged the council to provide enough family homes in the block. His demands were echoed by Frognal and Fitzjohns councillor Andrew Parkinson. He previously signed a joint letter with former Labour election opponent Rebecca Shirazi calling for social housing on the site.
Cllr Cooper told this newspaper: “The sale to a CLT is a welcome admission from Camden that other providers are often better than it is at building and delivering social housing, not least because of the construction and sales risk.
“The reprovision of three socially rented homes in response to Conservative demands is welcome. But I’m concerned that Camden is trying to cram in too many one-bed flats onto the site. [Hampstead] needs a mix of new housing, including more family homes.”
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