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Alliance formed to fight massive Chalk Farm retail park development

Planners set to rule on project agreed between developers Barratt and supermarket Morrisons

16 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

How a new look Chalk Farm could look

AN unprecedented alliance of residents, businesses, civic groups and heritage bodies has combined to fight a redevelopment ­project that would change the face of Chalk Farm. They are protesting against a deal involving Barratt and Morrisons supermarket to build a giant retail park with offices and nearly 600 homes.

Town Hall planners will consider the merits of the £600million-plus Chalk Farm Road scheme next week but are under pressure to tell the developers to back to the drawing board. The Camden Goods Yard Working Group (CGYWG) – a task force which includes residents’ associations, community groups and Camden Town businesses such as media giants Viacom and market owners Market Tech – said the plans “completely ignore” its input.

The scheme is the largest to hit NW1 since the redevelopment of Hawley Wharf. CGYWG says it represents a “golden opportunity” to create a space that will last for generations but that the current designs are driven by greed. Designs show buildings will be up to 14 storeys high and will include a new Morrisons store and an estate where 40 per cent of the homes are ranked as “affordable”.

The CGYWG, however, say the project:
* does not address the impact of thousands of people moving into the neighbourhood;
* will create homes with limited privacy and a lack of outdoor space;
* will have a negative effect on nearby historic buildings;
* will lead to dangerous levels of traffic.

Barratt has refuted the criticisms and insists the project enjoys widespread support. Martin Scholar, from Barratt London, said: “A lot of what CGYWG are putting out we do not agree with. When we met with stakeholders, they said they did not want this to be an extension of the markets. The scheme respects this.”

The company says it has worked with neighbours since early last year to find a new use for land which was once at the centre of Camden Town’s Victorian railway network.  A spokesman added: “Our vision is to create an inclusive and accessible mixed-use neighbourhood which does not promote the extension of the night-time economy or the Stables Market – a place which builds on the site’s distinctive past and optimises the potential to realise much-needed homes, jobs and shopping.” They say they will contribute £11.5m under a planning agreement for community use.

CGYWG member Paul Witley, however, told the New Journal they hope councillors will throw out the application because it has not followed a framework discussed between the developers and the working group. “We have met with Barratt five times and the last meeting was just 10 days ago,” said Mr ­Witley. “We have been consistent with our message. But our experience – and that of other consultees – is that Barratt do not consult. They merely pay lip service to the idea. They think they can browbeat people.”

CGYWG member Steve Stokes, who lives next door to the site, said they welcome the ­provision of more social housing, but added: “Are the homes genuinely affordable and a good standard? We are not convinced the scheme will deliver what is needed.”

More than 100 other individual objections have now been lodged at the Town Hall and a public meeting is planned for tonight (Thursday) at the Holy Trinity church in Hartland Road from 7pm. Council officers have recommended the ­planning committee pass the scheme.

Business group offered work space

BUSINESS group Camden Town Unlimited (CTU) has broken ranks with other members of the CGYWG and will not campaign against the scheme. It has been offered the chance to manage a 10,000-square-foot space of offices paid for by the developers on the site, if it is goes ahead.

The CTU, which takes a financial contribution from businesses in the area, has been running low-cost desk space in temporary sites for start-up companies.

Chief executive Simon Pitkeathley said: “Now the CGYWG has changed to a campaign group, and because we are in negotiations to run office space there, we have a conflict of interest. We can’t do both things. We support the provision of work space in the scheme and so we do not feel we should comment further on it.” He added: “The reality is we always avoid talking about the design of applications, and take a view instead on work space.”

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