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Is ‘Brill Tower’ the beginning of the end for Somers Town?

10 January, 2020

WHATEVER shape and design the tower in Somers Town is, it will remain a shining beacon of luxury housing across the central London skyline.

Last night (Wednesday) modified designs for the 22-storey “Brill Tower” block were put on display to the public.

The changes, opponents say, include a “corporate look”, with 12 more private flats squeezed into what developers are claiming are simply “minor amendments”.

Residents should be objecting to this significant change to the development on land that once belonged to the people of Camden, whose taxes and rates were acquired over many years.

It has now been sold to a private consortium as part of the Community Investment Programme (CIP).

It feels like the beginning of the end for Somers Town.

The CIP sees Camden-owned land used by private developers to build housing units – most for private sale, a number for “social rent”.

It has, despite being in operation for almost 10 years, left Camden with a small number of new council homes.

The council acts so paternalistically about the CIP, it is difficult to rouse people to debate the complicated issues at stake. But at the heart of the matter are questions about who is running the Town Hall.

On Monday councillors on the scrutiny committee will consider alternatives to the scheme.

Questions will be asked about the percentage of genuinely affordable homes in new-build developments.

But there are also questions about the power of planning officers, and the effectiveness of public consultations. The CIP is in many ways characteristic of dead-end politics of Labour councils since the 1990s.

HS2 bonanza

IF there was any question about HS2 being stopped, it is very unlikely to happen now that Boris Johnson is aiming to garner support in the Labour heartlands.

In Camden, whether the project goes ahead or not no longer matters much.

The damage has been done and the development will go ahead whether the railway comes to Euston or not. Frank Dobson was among the first to argue for the railway to be stopped at Old Oak Common, west London. And Lord Berkeley’s report, published this week, yet again makes the case for this option but is under no illusion about why the concept has so far been ignored.

It is going to be a big bonanza for developers in Euston, with yet more towers overlooking Somers Town.

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