Camden votes down ban on tower block developments

100 Avenue Road

100 Avenue Road - Credit: Essential Living

A Conservative councillor has accused Camden Council of "kicking the can down the road" for rejecting his motion on high rises.

Planned developments for both Murphy's Yard in Kentish Town and the O2 Centre in Finchley Road would feature multiple tower blocks.

Cllr Oliver Cooper put forward a motion to ban high-rises in such low-rise areas.

On Wednesday the controlling Labour group instead voted to commission a study on building heights looking at "local character and sensitivity to help inform where tall buildings may be more appropriate as part of a future policy" in 2023.

Cllr Cooper said: "It's a wrecking amendment. It's deliberately designed to kick the can down the road and stop this council from implementing the policies the London plan gives us the right to implement from tomorrow.

"Adopting a policy in 2023, after a number of very high profile high-rise developments have been decided by this council, is not the right response having been given powers over a year ago."

Cllr Heather Johnson (Lab, Regents Park) who proposed the amendment, denied it was a "wrecking amendment", saying tall buildings can be refused by planning committee. 

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"To pick on just a few areas of the borough to ban any tall buildings very much sounds like the rest of the borough doesn't count," she said.

Cllr Anna Wright (Lab, Highgate) said she was "acutely aware" of constituents' feelings on Murphy's Yard, but said she opposed the motion on grounds that government policies do not support council policies on affordable housing but instead favour private developers.

"What I need is to know that the policies that we have in Camden, that allow us to bring forward resident concerns and fight for what we need out of private developments, will actually stand up and not be overridden by government policies that gazump us," she said. 

Cllr Paul Tomlinson (Lab, St Pancras) supported the motion as he liked its "intent".

"Should we have tall buildings? How tall? If we have tall buildings where should they be located?

"The motion at least attempts to grapple with the problem of tall buildings in low-rise areas," he said.

"We do need to have a discussion, people need some kind of protection."

Cllr Cooper said his motion "empowers Camden, it gives the option of considering if tall buildings are appropriate in different areas".

It was backed by seven and opposed by 25.