Government to rule on controversial Avenue Road tower proposals

What the new Swiss Cottage tower would look like

What the new Swiss Cottage tower would look like - Credit: Archant

A controversial proposal to build what would be one of Camden’s tallest residential towers is set to be decided by government, after communities secretary Eric Pickles stepped in to take control.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles

Local government secretary Eric Pickles - Credit: Archant

Mr Pickles has called-in an appeal over Camden Council’s decision to reject planning permission for a 24-storey tower built in the heart of Swiss Cottage.

The scheme would see the current building at 100 Avenue Road torn down and replaced with a development providing 184 flats.

Some 3,000 people signed a petition opposing the proposals when planning was sought from Camden Council by the developers Essential Living.

In September last year councillors rejected the scheme due to its bulk and height.

A CGI of what the tower in Avenue Road would look like

A CGI of what the tower in Avenue Road would look like - Credit: Archant

In January, Essential Living submitted an appeal to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council’s decision.

The usual process is for a planning inspector to conduct a public inquiry once an appeal is lodged and make a ruling.

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But after calling-in the appeal last week, the secretary of state for communities and local government will now decide whether to give the project the green light, taking the decision out of the hands of the Planning Inspectorate.

A decision will only be made after the May general election – when a new government is in power and when Mr Pickles may no longer be in his post.

A letter sent by the Planning Inspectorate last week to interested parties read: “Although the appeal was to have been decided by an inspector, the secretary of state considers that he should determine it himself.

“The reason for this direction is that the appeal involves proposals for residential development of over 150 units or on sites of over five hectares, which would significantly impact on the government’s objective to secure a better balance between housing demand and supply and create high quality, sustainable, mixed and inclusive communities.”

An inquiry will open on July 14, with statements by interested parties to be submitted by April 10.

The inquiry is set to last eight days.

The inspector will then prepare a report and make a recommendation, which will be forwarded to the secretary of state for communities and local government, who will make a final decision.

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