Mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith slams ‘hideous’ Swiss Cottage tower proposal
PUBLISHED: 14:11 14 July 2015 | UPDATED: 14:11 14 July 2015
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London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith MP has backed calls for the government to throw out one of the most controversial housing developments proposed in Camden in recent times – describing developer’s plans as “visually hideous”.
The Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston has joined 3,000 others in publicly opposing the £100million housing development by Essential Living, who are seeking to demolish the current six-storey building at 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage and replace it with a 24-storey tower.
It would provide 184 flats, some of them “affordable”, along with a part-five/part-seven adjoining building providing retail space and a new home for the neighbouring charity The Winch.
The plans were rejected by Camden Council in September 2014 in the face of significant local opposition, with residents concerned about the height of the building, its impact on neighbouring conservation areas and overcrowding.
An eight-day public inquiry into the scheme – which started today at the British Medical Association House in Euston – is being held after an appeal was lodged by Essential Living.
In his letter to the inquiry’s planning inspector, Mr Goldsmith MP wrote: “I am writing to you to urge you to please listen to the views of local residents and their elected representatives and reject this appeal from Essential Living until the company returns with plans that are acceptable to the community.
“As you know, there is a tremendous shortage of homes in London, with demand greatly exceeding supply. But if we are to have any hope of gaining the consent of Londoners to develop the homes we need, it is imperative that the planning system works with rather than against people and communities.
“This proposal is for a building that is oversized, completely out of keeping, and visually hideous. It would be astonishing if the community hadn’t reacted in the way that it has.
“I hope you will reject this appeal and indicate to the developer that it needs to go back to the drawing board and return with plans that demonstrate respect for the community.”
Essential Living has argued its proposed development would bring regeneration to Swiss Cottage and much-needed housing, also arguing the site was “right for a tall building”.
The next eight days will see lawyers for opponents Camden Council and appellants Essential Living seek to persuade the inspector on their views of the scheme.
The final decision on the building will be made by Communities Secretary Greg Clark.