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Congratulations on awards – we need oversight from councillors

02 July, 2020

Artist’s impression of how the tower at 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage was meant to look

• CONGRATULATIONS to you all on the recent press awards: Newspaper of the year, Campaign of the year, and a Judges’ special award for Dan Carrier too, (Amid toughest of times, a hat-trick of top gongs for your paper at UK press awards, June 25).

The awards are well deserved, your professional reporting of local issues, from the occasional lost-cat story to the behaviour of our council and all the major organisations active in our borough has been exemplary: balanced but with a recognition that local voices, perhaps not as professional as the public relations departments of major corporations, and even our council, deserve proper representation to redress the imbalance between these groups.

Your coverage of our own “local” issue, the dumping of a massive over-development of private flats at 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage, with a 24-storey tower and two awful side blocks overshadowing our tiny park and looming over the whole area, has been exemplary.

Now the scheme’s put on hold, leaving us with a derelict site and all users of the park and residents exposed to the noise and pollution from the Finchley Road/Swiss Cottage gyratory system for the rest of this year; and probably all of next, if not longer.

But I still find it appalling that the officials running Camden Council, whose wages we pay, still cannot seem to manage a fraction of such understanding as they sit in their offices rubber-stamping whatever disgusting schemes developers come up with, seemingly with absolutely no oversight from councillors

The latest such lack of care relates to the awful plans for an even more monstrous tower in Somers Town, where extra floors are added to make this “viable”. Of course, we need to maximise the income from such projects but not if they utterly destroy the character of an area and the lives of all its present residents.

And for another, low-scale, example of the utter incompetence of Camden’s planners, take a look at the set of buildings opposite Waitrose by Finchley Road station.

A trio of buildings erected in the last few years, with not an iota of co-ordination between them: one stone-covered, another red brick, and the third green paint and steel, with balconies at the front, to allow their occupants to admire the traffic on the Finchley Road and get their fair share of the noise and pollution.

So keep up the good work and, while I am here, perhaps our elected councillors could start taking a more active interest in what the council’s officers are up to before they get plans onto the drawing board?

I see no point voting for councillors if they have no power. So perhaps we can hope for changes before the deferred local elections next year.

We certainly need them.

Eton Avenue, NW3


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