Planning inspector rejects Swiss Cottage developer's appeal

100 Avenue Road

100 Avenue Road - Credit: Essential Living

A developer has lost its appeal against Camden Council's decision to reject its "modified" application to build a 24 storey tower block in Swiss Cottage.

Developer Essential Living (EL) appealed against Camden Council’s refusal to allow it to reduce the affordable housing included at 100 Avenue Road. 

The appeal site is located at the junction of Avenue Road and Finchley Road close to Belsize Conservation Area.

The initial application for the 184-property scheme in 2016 included 28 “affordable rent” units, eight "intermediate housing" unit and 18 flats with "discounted market rent" for 15 years. 

The amendments called for all the above to be replaced by 18 "discounted market rent" units “in perpetuity”.

Planning inspector Tom Gilbert-Wooldridge rejected the appeal following an inquiry in November. 

He said in his report: "There have been a number of unforeseen circumstances since the 2016 decision was made, including legal challenges, Brexit, Covid, and the increasing cost of building materials. This has inevitably affected the appellant’s finances. 

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"As a consequence the appellant claims to be stuck between not being able to sell the site or deliver the development as consented with its various planning  benefits.

"However, I have not been persuaded that the financial position of the appellant means that the only option is the proposed modification to the S106 agreement.

"Moreover, while a realistic alternative use value for the site may be lacking, this does not undermine the prospect that another residential-led scheme could be delivered on this site, particularly given the site’s urban location next to a London underground station."

The Belsize Society, which spoke at the inquiry, said it was "delighted" with the result.

A spokesperson said: "We cannot, of course, at this stage, have any idea what Essential Living will do now: there has been no work on the site since mid-2020."

Camilla Lesser, development manager at Essential Living, said: "It is in everyone's interest to see the site developed and making a positive contribution to the local area as soon as possible.

"Our planning application would have allowed that to happen - delivering much-needed new housing in Camden, enhancing the public realm, and providing new space for The Winch community project.

"We are naturally disappointed with the Inspector's decision and will carefully consider our next steps."

Cllr Danny Beales, Camden's lead for investing in communities said the decision sends a "clear message to developers that they have to deliver their promises to Camden residents".

He added: "We will challenge developers who seek to avoid providing the vital affordable housing our borough needs, which is secured as part of planning permissions.”