Camden’s decision on Highgate Newtown Community Centre redevelopment is shameful
04 May, 2017
• THIS time last year Camden officers said the plans for Highgate Newtown Community Centre redevelopment were inappropriate in terms of height and scale in this backyard site.
Last Thursday at the planning committee, the same officers said the scheme was now acceptable, when it has hardly changed. The councillors failed to ask the officers who or what had made them change their mind.
The committee agreed the application and the level of scrutiny and challenge of this council development was shockingly poor, focusing on odd windows here and there and not standing back to look at the impact of the scale and density of this development on the community for years to come.
Our Labour councillors enthusiastically supported the six residents who wrote in favour of the scheme, ignoring the views of the 476 against and showed little interest in the detail and impact of the scheme.
Oliver Lewis reneged on his public promise in the New Journal that Camden would not proceed until “a design is found that the entire community is happy with”. Sally Gimson patronised the local community on the importance of free services and poor people while supporting a £120k-per-year charge to HNCC to use the new building.
Would they have been so enthusiastic about a private sector development?
In contrast, our Green councillor Sian Berry has listened to residents and taken their views seriously. She scrutinised the application and raised a number of very relevant questions and challenges to the committee. However, these were completely ignored.
This shameful decision reflects very badly on Camden Council. The committee has agreed a scheme that sets a disastrous precedent for what is acceptable. Private developers will be rubbing their hands in anticipation.
FRANCISCO JAVIER ENCINAS
For Friends of HNCC