100 Avenue Road pause: Community centre boss calls for developer to ‘lay out a timescale’ after construction halted on Swiss Cottage tower
PUBLISHED: 18:00 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:37 30 June 2020
With plans for a tower block in Swiss Cottage “paused”, the boss of a local community centre which should be getting a new HQ when the building is finished has called for clarity.
Earlier in June, a community working group was told by representatives from the developer, Essential Living, that it was reviewing all of its projects in light of “unprecedented circumstances”.
Rashid Iqbal, chief exec at the Winch, which has served families and children in Swiss Cottage and Belsize since the 1970s, said Essential Living should “lay out a timescale” for its decision-making.
He said it is vital any change to the tower block plans do not see community benefits lost.
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He told the Ham&High: “There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty about the project. It’s key that we don’t lose these benefits – the social housing, the space for the Winch – for the Swiss Cottage and Belsize community.
“Key worker accommodation is critical now more than ever. Are they going to try and do this cheaply? We have seen developers of all kinds renege on promises made at planning for the social benefits to the community.
“What is required is for Essential Living to lay out a timescale. Or we need the council to step in and exert its influence to either push the developer to build quickly and ensure the community benefits are realised, or they can explore prove visionary options. The key question is: what is this pause for?”
He explained why clarity was so important: “The challenge we face is that we are in a building that’s decaying, it’s in a state of disrepair. And because everyone is assuming the Winch is moving, it’s near impossible to invest in a building you are about to leave.”
Reacting to the news of the pause in construction, which the working group was told could last until at least the end of this year, councillors from all parties cited the Winch’s future as a key element of the scheme, while Camden’s planning chief Cllr Danny Beales said: “Our priority is to protect the community benefits and if possible to use this opportunity to try and secure an improved scheme.”
Essential Living has not responded to this newspaper’s requests to comment.
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