New owner of Utopia Village strikes deal with council to abandon office-to-homes plan
PUBLISHED: 14:45 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:45 13 May 2015
The new owner of a business complex long under threat of being turned into luxury flats has struck a deal with Camden Council to bin plans submitted by previous owners for a mass office-to-home conversion.
Market Tech Holdings bought Utopia Village in Primrose Hill for £44million in a shock move last month.
The firm, which also owns Camden’s markets, confirmed last week a deal was in place that meant the site would not be turned into housing – ending years of uncertainty and campaigning.
Mark Alper, UK Group Property Director for Market Tech, said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have agreed with the London Borough of Camden that we will not be implementing the residential permission at Utopia Village which was recently approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
“We are pleased to announce that we will continue to promote and manage Utopia Village as working environment to support business in this part of Camden and help drive our investment in the Camden Markets.”
The announcement comes after a lengthy planning row between the former owners of Utopia Village, Camden Council and many residents in Primrose Hill and the surrounding area.
In 2013, the council rejected a planning application to turn the site, home to 22 businesses, into 53 luxury flats.
A star-studded campaign opposing the development saw number of high-profile Primrose Hill residents complain the loss of businesses would be “devastating” for the high street.
Retail guru Mary Portas, playwright Alan Bennett and Baroness Joan Bakewell all signed a letter to “Save Utopia Village” saying office-to-home developments had led to businesses being replaced by “homogenous housing dormitories for city workers or absentee property investors”.
It was just months ago their campaign looked defeated after an appeal by Utopia Village’s then-owners saw communities secretary Eric Pickles overturn the council’s rejection and give the green light for the project to go ahead.
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