Centric Close neighbours fear new flats complex will leave them in the dark
23 June, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
How the new scheme will look
HOMES in a quiet Camden Town street face being plunged into “perpetual darkness”, according to objectors after the Town Hall’s planning committee passed a scheme to build a seven-storey block of flats on land currently used by businesses.
The development, at Centric Close off Oval Road, is the mastermind of Fairview Homes. It includes 76 new homes and space for offices on the ground floor and basement, replacing warehouses and light industrial units. But the council’s planning committee heard on Thursday evening that the designs break 19 guidelines concerning issues such as light and size.
Speaking at the meeting, resident Adam Shaw warned that he and his neighbours in Oval Road’s Georgian terraces face being cast into permanent shade. Mr Shaw told the meeting: “You must get a lot of people saying we do not want this in our back yard, but we understand not all development is bad – but this breaches 19 guidelines and is not in the spirit of many more. “The developer’s reports say it would lead to a huge loss of light in some rooms – more than 50 per cent.”
Residents also highlighted concerns over privacy, with bedrooms of young children directly in the line of sight of the proposed building which will boast roof terraces and balconies. Mr Shaw added: “The buildings are two to three times the height of our homes – I would not consider that to be in keeping with the character of the area.”
Mr Shaw went on to criticise Fairview for their approach, adding: “We said, ‘come to meet us, come to our homes, and they refused.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Shaw told the New Journal objectors felt the Town Hall had failed to consider the opposition to the project and had not held the developers to account.
He said: “It is clear that the councillors should decide on these crucial planning decisions in accordance with the aims of the council and its rules. The fact that there is huge opposition shouldn’t be the only factor, but it should be an important one. “The [Town Hall] gallery was packed with residents trying to take part in local democracy for the first time. Not only did that not make any difference, the council made no effort to publicly recognise the scale of opposition. Importantly, it was clear the officials were not only arguing in support of the applicant but were highly selective in the evidence they chose to present. The council’s own report admits there would be ‘major adverse effects’ to existing residents.” He added that, despite a report showing daylight in homes nearby would fall by at least 50 per cent, no councillor pursued this.
Mr Shaw said: “At no point did any councillor ask why the officials were saying there was minor effects and the report we quoted said they were very major. “The council’s own report talked of big problems and yet the officials refused to refer to that and the councillors failed to highlight this issue.”
Town Hall environment chief, Labour councillor Phil Jones, defended the committee’s decision. He said: “These plans will make good use of what has been an underused brownfield site and deliver much-needed new homes, 35 per cent of which will be affordable and new workspace, designed to attract small businesses with a proportion of affordable rents. “Following a lengthy debate, the planning committee approved plans for Centric Close as they felt these benefits outweighed the scheme’s impacts.”
Fairview New Homes director, Jeremy Gee, said: “The report to Camden Council’s planning committee included comments from The Camden Design Review Panel, which stated that it found ‘much to admire’ in our designs, which it said ‘promise high quality development, of a scale and character sympathetic to the site’s Primrose Hill conservation area context’. Furthermore, the design minimised the potential for overlooking through the careful positioning of windows and balconies.”
He added: ““The council’s report also stated that our development would relate ‘satisfactorily’ to neighbouring homes, in terms of the potential impact on daylight and sunlight, and that – given the site’s urban location and under-developed nature – the aims of the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) guidance had been achieved.”