The independent London newspaper

Facts about the council’s approach on Camley Street

19 July, 2019

• A VARIETY of claims have lately been made about the future of Camley Street. It is important to set out the facts.

Crucially, the principles which guide the council’s approach are to:

• back council-led development;

• reject a “joint venture” transfer of public land to private interest; and

• support true social housing and Camden living rent housing.

Some local businesses, as part of the neighbour­hood forum, have proposed a massive joint venture, a private sector-public sector partnership.

The result would be the council borrowing and holding 100 per cent of the financial risk, but with only 50 per cent ownership.

Were we to agree, this would constitute a massive transfer of ownership from public to private interests. Camden Council has long been clear that we do not actively pursue joint ventures and our preference is for council as builder, the public sector in the lead.

The campaigners have requested that the council develop sites it does not own outright. This is not possible at present as there are a number of long leaseholders, and Network Rail and HS1 have land there.

It simply is not within the council’s gift to bring forward these other sites without agreement from the other parties. This would involve significant public expense, requiring massive borrowing for no clear public benefit.

The council’s plan for new housing at Camley Street is clear and consistent with our values: that on our two sites we will build 350 homes, with at least 50 per cent being social and Camden living rent homes.

What this means for families looking for homes is that these would be genuinely affordable for people on the housing waiting list. The forum’s plan, however, is merely for “affordable homes”.

Do not be taken in by the name. The small print in their draft plan states that they prefer “London Affordable Rent” and rent-to-buy products, for people on around £60,000 a year. They make no mention of council housing. This is not acceptable to this council administration.

Finally, the purported plan makes the bold claim that it will preserve local businesses. But this is not the full picture.

The draft neighbourhood plan is selective in the local businesses it would retain: largely those involved in writing the plan itself. Businesses in the north and south of Camley Street, and the livelihoods they support, do not get a look-in.

The council is clear that we must ensure all voices are heard, and therefore all of Camley Street’s businesses deserve to be listened to, and will receive a strong support package during development and if possible the option to return. We also want to increase the number of local jobs on site.

Our vision is the community’s vision – for a new place we can all be proud of, a place for local residents to live, work, make, and create.

Where now there are abandoned cars, unloved streets, aging buildings and polluting vehicles, there will be new social housing for local families, more local jobs with workshops, light-industrial spaces and new offices.

There will be new green space and a new neighbourhood in Camden. We remain committed to full local partnership with all parties – residents, tenant groups, employers, institutions and the neighbourhood forum.

We will set up a steering group so they are included and can help advise on plans as they develop.

We also hope that the forum will also recognise some of the minimum requirements that Camden residents expect and adopt them in their own neighbourhood plan – such as genuinely affordable homes, treating all businesses fairly, and delivering a plan that is responsible with public funding.

Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities & an Inclusive Economy


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