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Town Hall urged to allow community land trust in King’s Cross

Not-for-profit group want to set up a community land trust

16 February, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Mario Raggio, financial director at IMS Smith­fields, Alex Smith, of Alara, and Tony Meadows, sales director of IMS Smithfields, who have drawn up their own plans for the King’s Cross site

THE Town Hall has been urged to open negotiations with a not-for-profit group that wants to turn council land in King’s Cross into an industrial district alongside 700 rent-capped affordable homes.

Camley Street Sustainability Zone (CSSZ) – a group made up of firms to the north of the railway lines – wants to set up a community land trust.

The aim is to secure long leases for businesses while bringing in £500million of investment from pension funds looking to invest in central London property.

Rather than the land being sold, Camden Council would retain the freehold under the model suggested by CSSZ, a move which it says would stop private developers cashing in.

Alex Smith, of food company Alara and a director of CSSZ, has joined forces with 40 other firms to put the idea to the council.

The King’s Cross site

He said: “The profits made would stay in the community, through contributions to Camden Council, wages paid to people here, business rates, council tax and providing a significant number of affordable homes and employment.”

New flats would not be available for sale and rent would be capped at 40 per cent of market levels, unlike 80 per cent in other projects earmarked “affordable” in the area.

Mr Smith added: “It would create twice the industrial space and twice the number of jobs currently here.”

Employment would not be in the hi-tech jobs being created at the King’s Cross Railway Lands development to the south of the site, but would be based in manufacturing and production, helping to create a more diverse economy.

Mr Smith said: “We provide real, tangible goods for the people of London, and we are vital to this area. For example, the new, successful food outlets in Granary Square are not supplied by magic. The food they use comes from our businesses.”

The group has been in talks with pension fund investors, who are now lined up as financial backers.

Regeneration chief Labour councillor Phil Jones said the council was not negotiating with any group and a competitive tendering process would be followed if the site was made available.

He added: “We are carefully reviewing options for Camley Street. There is an opportunity for mixed-use development that would support new homes, enhanced employment space and enable improvements to public space and connectivity.”

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