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What next for Swiss Cottage site?

25 June, 2020

What next for 100 Avenue Road site?

• WE were pleased to hear from the indefatigable Janine Sachs of Save Swiss Cottage, that the awful overdevelopment of the 100 Avenue Road site – planned by Essential Living (Swiss Cottage) Ltd, based in the Channel Islands – is to suspend works on the project indefinitely, (Swiss Cottage tower project chaos after developer orders construction ‘pause’, June 19).

A pity they didn’t do this a year or more back before they demolished the architecturally distinctive office building there, which could have easily been converted to a decent set of flats, at far less cost and with almost zero impact on all the local facilities.

A bit late now, but, we’d rather have a hole in the ground than the awful set of blocks they planned to dump on the site: a 24-storey tower, two monster slabs, one seven- the other five-storeys high, all for only private, high-rental, use with a corner section for the Winch youth project.

But the question now is what will happen next, and when?

This is not a new problem for Essential Living: they did the same on a site in Sittingbourne in 2012, which they then left empty until recently.

So we hope Camden’s planning and legal departments built in some protection in case of a similar eventuality but, given how stupid they have been bulldozing the inappropriate overdevelopment through, we doubt it.

However there are immediate concerns. Now that the buildings have gone, all the noise and pollution from the Swiss Cottage gyratory system comes straight into the park, widely used by local residents as it is the only green space in the area.

This pollution will affect users of adult exercise and children’s play areas, as well as residents in the flats on Winchester Road and on top of the leisure centre.

What will Camden make Essential Living do? A higher barrier would be the simplest option; probably ugly, but at least it would keep some of the noise and pollution out, essential as these rise back to the previous levels as lockdown continues to be eased and traffic levels increase.

And what will be done about all the mess Essential Living have created on the A41 itself? Will the council make the system revert to the same number of traffic lanes as before, will the bus stops be reinstated, will the obstacles to pedestrians all be removed?

Looking further ahead, while Essential Living will be hoping to resume building their appalling project, will there still be the same demand for such accommodation in the future?

Much of their focus was on flats for what we call Canary Wharf rats: people here in London for short periods, running round to offices in that district.

Through the lockdown many companies may realise that they don’t actually need all their staff to have office space. Perhaps they will create rotas, allowing half or more of their staff to work from home on a regular basis?

This could undermine all Essential Living’s income projections, making the project unviable.

The best scenario is that if Essential Living fail to make any progress in, say, the next six months, Camden Council will revoke the planning permission for this development and then reopen the site for a better, more realistic and achievable, development.

Do they have the will to do this? Let us hope so, even stupid people learn something from their mistakes.

DAVID REED Treasurer
Save Swiss Cottage Action Group


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