Affordable housing changes for 100 Avenue Road will test Camden's resolve
- Credit: Archant
The 100 Avenue Road development has a complicated planning history.
It took a planning inspector and the then-communities secretary years to rubber-stamp the scheme which, if built, will tower over Swiss Cottage.
Essential Living has committed to building a scheme with a certain number of affordable housing units, reneging on that shouldn't be a threat available to them, or else what is the point of such a long, expensive and contentious planning process?
We appear to be in a no-win situation. Either Camden approves these changes to the scheme, and much-needed affordable housing doesn't materialise, or Camden rejects the changes and a contentious building project that has eaten up money and time for the best part of a decade is left in no man's land (and Swiss Cottage is left looking like no man's land.)
Essential Living has obligations. Affordable housing in places like Swiss Cottage is at a premium. EL shouldn't be let off the hook at the expense of people living in Camden, or people who in the future might not be able to.
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When construction was paused earlier in the pandemic, Camden's planning chief Cllr Danny Beales said it was a "priority" to protect the community benefits of the scheme, and even said the pause could be an "opportunity to try and secure an improved scheme".
Was that optimistic thinking or was it Camden setting out its stall to protect affordable housing in a borough that has become more and more difficult for young families to settle in?
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The fear is that fear of more lengthy legal action will leave the town hall inclined to accept the changes and the lesser scheme for Avenue Road.
The way in which town hall officials handle this case going forward will highlight how brave Camden is, and whether its prepared to stand up to ultimatums from global companies. The council needs to play this one straight. Financial losses for a big company aren't its problem.