Our comments on proposed changes to Camden Planning Guidance 2: Housing

Camden Council proposes changes to the current planning guidance.

Our association strongly objects to some of the proposals in CPG2. Specifically we strongly object to paragraph 2.102 and paragraph 2.120A. 

There is a great need for new affordable housing south of the Euston Road. The residential community here is under enormous commercial pressure and it is where the private rented sector is most expensive.

Camden’s Plan has policies which state mixed communities and more affordable housing should be provided within Camden south of the Euston Road. The proposed amendments to the CPG2 are not compatible with these.

Our neighbours at Covent Garden Community Association have expressed grave concern and we’d endorse their view and repeat some of their comments below:

“The Council will seriously undermine its negotiating position of getting affordable housing included in commercial developments south of the Euston Road, if developers can cite the possibility of using payment-in-lieu anywhere within the Borough. The current policies, if rigorously applied, clearly help to concentrate developer’s minds, as they know that unless they either provide the affordable housing that is required within the development, or by way of payment-in-lieu but on sites near by or at least within the area south of the Euston Road then their development proposals might not be granted planning approval.To introduce the option of payment-in-lieu that can be used anywhere within the borough will always be the easiest option for the developer and they will orchestrate their negotiations accordingly. In addition by having this opt-out, it will be much harder for the Council to win on appeal when endeavouring to get developers to include affordable housing as part of a specific development.

“The proposed change is a complete abrogation of the Council’s stated Planning Policies that make clear that one of the key planning policies is to ensure that general needs housing is built south of the Euston Rd and to protect and enhance the local residential communities. If the change is adopted the Council will in effect be saying and agreeing to the fact that south of the Euston Rd is a commercial area and will be only available to those living in private housing and high rent commercial development. This is a reversal of the Council’s current planning policies and will in practice assist the current Government’s housing policies of pricing out low income residents from Central London.

“No evidence has been produced as to why this policy change is being proposed; the report merely says that “the Council may not always be able to spend affordable housing funds in close proximity of the development that generated the payment”. The CGCA has a long and consistent record of identifying possible sites where affordable housing could be located, as have many other community groups south of the Euston Road, and indeed the Council has only recently adopted a detailed Action Area Plan for the Fitzrovia Area that specifically highlights sites where affordable housing should be provided. It is not tenable for the Council to then claim that no sites south of the Euston Road can be identified. Such a statement says more about the lack of determination by the Council to pursue their policies and lack of any rigour when negotiating with developers. There are a number of sites, not least the site in Cleveland Street where the Council have legal rights to acquire from UCLH the land for £1 and build affordable housing. This site is large enough to accommodate over 70 general needs dwellings. Indeed affordable housing should have been built on this site by 2005, but it continues to remain derelict. What better site does Camden want south of the Euston Road where they could deploy payment-in-lieu south of the Euston Road ?

“We suggest there should be rewording of the proposed amendment to the effect that the Council ‘will always press for onsite affordable housing in the central area and any funds in lieu shall take account of land values on the central area so they may be used to create affordable housing in the central area’ (Comments by CGCA).

Our association commends these comments made by CGCA.

The proposed amendments must not go ahead.

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