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View from the chamber: Kentish Town plans are just as important locallly as Brexit - make sure you have your say

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 November 2018

Archant

With 700,000 people turning out to demand a say on the biggest issue facing the country, it’s easy to be distracted from big changes closer to home, but council plans for the area north of Kentish Town station deserve plenty of our attention.

Designated a new “opportunity area” by the mayor of London and earmarked by Camden for new development, the two mainly industrial areas around the main railway line are set to be turned into a new quarter that links up the surrounding areas in new and exciting ways.

But getting this right depends just as much on local people having their say as the bigger question of whether or not we stay in the EU.

Between them, the Regis Road industrial estate and the depot and HQ of local firm Murphy’s builders make up a brownfield area comparable with King’s Cross Railwaylands or Battersea Power Station.

Development here could create a wonderful new community or an ugly display of unattainable luxury flats, depending on whether the vision of local people prevails.

It’s great, therefore, that both local neighbourhood forums –Kentish Town and Dartmouth Park – have had this area in their sights for several years.

A lot of thought, vision and gathering of ideas from local residents has taken place already, and these ideas have been included in both groups’ neighbourhood plans.

The need for genuinely affordable homes has been a top priority coming out of these plans, which call for the maximum number of social rented and living rent homes for people of all ages (very important for a site so close to public transport).

Protecting views from the station up to Parliament Hill and from the Hill into central London is vital too, as is creating new green spaces in an area that is currently within sight of Hampstead Heath but deficient in green areas to spend time.

Preserving and building more space for businesses is also important, with London losing so much industrial land in recent years, and integrating the creation of new jobs alongside homes will be important to get right.

Clearly the addition of thousands of new residents will also mean travel via the Overground will increase, so local calls for a second entrance at Gospel Oak and step-free access at Kentish Town and Kentish Town West will get louder too.

Keeping the community fully involved is vital before, during and after the redevelopment takes place. For example, there are several housing co-operatives nearby and new community-led housing could play a big part in providing for local needs and then maintaining resident voices as a controlling interest in the area.

What I think we all agree upon – the council, the landowners and the community – is that we don’t want to have this area turned into another exclusive, faceless development without the public spaces and cultural life it needs to thrive.

Camden has launched a consultation on its draft planning framework for the area, and I hope everyone in the local area will add their voices. Visit camden.gov.uk/kentishtownframework.

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