Chester Road hostel: Highgate Newtown neighbours concerned by ‘massive’ council plans to rebuild hostel

2 Chester Road. Picture: Fabian Watkinson

2 Chester Road. Picture: Fabian Watkinson - Credit: Archant

Neighbours in Highgate Newtown are concerned plans to rebuild a hostel in Chester Road will result in a building with “tiny rooms” which dramatically overshadows residential homes.

Complaints also suggest Camden Council should rethink its scheme, which would see 50 temporary homes provided across three blocks, each three or four storeys in height.

The current building was built by Camden architect Bill Forrest in the early 1970s and forms part of the award-winning Highgate Newtown development.

Robert Dolota, who lives opposite the proposed redevelopment, emphasised he and his neighbours had no issue with the hostel itself, but were concerned by its size, the council’s plan ignoring the wishes of residents and the small size of the rooms planned. He also wanted to see the implications of Covid-19 reflected in the scheme.

READ MORE: Highgate Newtown: A distinctive community with a hidden history“During Covid, we have been unable to have the sort of public meeting we’d like to really quiz the council on this,” said Robert.

In his objection to the plans, he and wife Suzana wrote: “The proposed building represents massively large development, unacceptable dominance, out of scale with surroundings.”

Catherine Croft, director of the 20th Century Society, has also objected to the plans. She wrote the existing hostel “has international architectural and historic significance as part of the overall project of housing renewal and social care provision” which was carried out by the Camden architects department in the 1960s and 1970s.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The proposed redevelopment of the Chester Road hostel aims to provide much-needed, fit-for-purpose temporary accommodation for homeless families pending their move to a settled home. It is our view that this cannot be successfully achieved through a refurbishment of the current building both because of the condition of the building and the cost of bringing it up to standard.”

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The town hall said the redevelopment would save money which could be used to combat homelessness and added the current design was “in-keeping with the local area” and “sensitive to neighbouring residents”. It said the accommodation proposed had been “designed to exceed size and other housing minimum standards in national legislation, regional standards and local policies”.