Editor’s comment: 100 Avenue Road could spell trouble for Camden

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

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

Scrutiny is important.

It isn’t just important because it is harder to make bad or rushed or selfish or corrupt decisions when people are watching you, but also because it helps people trust in decisions they don’t personally agree with, which is useful if you ever want to get anything done.

It is of course always tempting to believe that decisions we don’t agree with by public bodies are the result of backhanders, errors, incompetence or vested interests, and there will always be people who oppose a scheme or decision no matter how thorough and open and balanced it has been.

But to use a slightly extreme analogy, there’s a difference between the family of a murderer campaigning for his or her release simply because they cannot accept the truth, and an entire community distrusting the police for generations because of a litany of genuine wrongs. Public opinion is a big deal.

Camden Council will have a problem if it is seen to be considering the 100 Avenue Road application under anything less than intense scrutiny. Whether or not August is actually a reasonable time to hold a planning committee, whether or not anyone is actually on holiday, whether or not CS11 goes ahead, the years of frustration its neighbours could experience will be coloured by the sense that Camden didn’t do its job properly, even if it did. That’s a problem for a council that desperately needs to earn back the trust of Swiss Cottage following the Chalcots evacuation and the already less than well received independent review into it. It’s a problem for a council that will need the public’s engagement in good faith during consultations, and their trust and support during tough times.

So for the sake of a month, I’d say: give the campaigners the time they ask for to prepare and to feel satisfied the town hall is doing its job properly – and to hear the not insignificant result of the CS11 judicial review – and the headache you save will be far greater than a few weeks’ delay.