Project to create 900 new homes and 420 school places in Camden to start next year

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, atop Camden Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, atop Camden Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Building work is set to begin next year on a £200million project to deliver 900 new homes and a new primary school site offering an extra 420 places in Camden.

Camden Council’s cabinet approved the development plans last Wednesday as part of its Community Investment Programme (CIP) - a building programme progressing in the face of £80million council budgets cuts - which were also agreed at last week’s meeting.

The CIP was devised by the Labour-led council following government cuts of more than £200million to the local authority’s capital budget and the withdrawal of funding from the Building Schools for the Future programme under this government.

The 15-year plan aims to invest in schools, homes and community facilities by selling or redeveloping council properties that are out-of-date, expensive to maintain, or underused and difficult to access.

Last Wednesday, the cabinet approved plans for developments at six sites across the borough.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said: “We rely on central government to help us invest in bricks and mortar and that has been radically cut.

“We are very fortunate that in the 1970s Camden Council was able to purchase a lot of land so Camden is a very large landowner.

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“If we weren’t able to invest in [this land] then the pressure on funding on-going services would be greater.”

By 2016, the council hopes to have completed regeneration works on the dilapidated Highgate Newtown Community Centre, in Bertram Street, Highgate.

Around the same time, it is also due to complete the building of more than 100 new homes to replace ageing housing blocks and utilise free space at several sites in Gospel Oak.

This latest wave of developments under the CIP will be funded purely through the regeneration of council land and subsequent private sale of new flats - utilising the high land value in Camden.

There will be no funding from the sale of council buildings as is the case in other CIP projects.

The cabinet has also approved plans to build a new site for Kingsgate Primary School, which is currently based in Kingsgate Road, West Hampstead.

The junior school will remain on the existing site and a new school to house the infants will be built on an industrial estate in Liddell Road, West Hampstead.

The Liddel Road infant school development will create an extra 420 school places to meet an increasing demand for primary school places in the north-west of the borough, as well as providing a number of new jobs on the site, in addition to 120 new homes for private sale.

But Cllr Keith Moffitt, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said the plans would destroy a number of established businesses on the site and did not meet the demand for social housing.

He said: “Liddell Road is all private housing. Lots of housing schemes going through in Camden just don’t have affordable housing.

“[The Labour group] talks about creating the additional school places but it’s all at one school. There’s a lot of feeling that instead of not creating a free school for ideological reasons, they are creating a super-primary.

“The way they are going about it is not popular with local people.”

Under the plans, Edith Neville Primary School, in Somers Town, will be re-built along with 92 new homes - a mix of social and private housing - in the surrounding area.

The largest development agreed is for the replacement of the Agar Estate, in Agar Road, Camden Town - which currently comprises 249 homes - with 513 new homes.

The council has also approved preliminary plans for a 100 new homes on the Bourne Estate in Holborn.