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Planning inspector spikes bid for private canalside flats at Bangor Wharf

'Only the smallest one-bed unit on the proposed development would have a market value of under £600,000'

23 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

How the development would have looked

A 46-HOME estate planned for an industrial site next to Regent’s Canal has been thrown out by a Whitehall planning inspector who stated it would do little to help Camden’s affordable homes crisis.

Housing Association One Housing, based in Chalk Farm Road, applied for permission to build three blocks of homes, shops and offices on land known as Bangor Wharf, at Georgiana Street in Camden Town. The site had been used by energy firm EDF as a depot with offices, a workshop and storage areas. It overlooks the canal and the Constitution pub.

Whitehall inspector Paul Jackson ruled that the project would not only have a negative impact on the Victorian pub, the canal and other buildings nearby, but failed to provide the type of homes that the borough needs. Bangor Wharf was once used for canal freight and later to load and unload household waste by the St Pancras borough council.

The inspector concluded that the buildings currently on-site were from the post-war period, of no architectural value, were in a poor condition and would need funds spent on them to bring them up to modern standards. He added that parts lacked natural light and the designs for the buildings to replace them would be flexible and boast better views of the canal. But, despite these elements of the scheme being an improvement, he was critical of One Housing’s plans, which Town Hall planning officers had dismissed last year.

Mr Jackson added: “Only the smallest one-bed unit on the proposed development would have a market value of under £600,000. It follows that for many people their income today would be insufficient to purchase the smallest affordable intermediate one-bed home and yet they would not qualify for social rented housing. This scheme would be unlikely to provide any intermediate housing that would be affordable for the income range between £30,000 to £50,000, but only for those with incomes between £58,000 and £81,000.”

This would mean the project would then fall short of the council’s aims to find new “genuinely affordable homes”, with Mr Jackson’s report stating: “The scheme would not maximise the site’s contribution towards accommodating affordable housing needs.”

The inspector heard evidence from members of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area Advisory Committee, pressure group Friends of Regent’s Canal, Somers Town Labour councillor Roger Robinson, and Claire Brooks, operations director of Royal College Street clothing firm Rainbow Wave.

Cllr Robinson told the New Journal: “The appeal had to be thrown out. We opposed it for a number of reasons, including how many homes were being provided to help people on housing waiting lists, and the effect the size of the buildings would have on people living nearby. “We felt that 80, 90 per cent of the houses would be bought by the well-off and it would have no real effect on providing homes for those who need them, nor was I happy with the number that were designed to be accessible for people who are partially able.”

Ian Shacklock, chairman of Friends of Regent’s Canal, said: “The planning inspector’s report is very reassuring in terms of the importance he attached to the character of this area. He highlighted that the bridge, a willow tree and the Constitution pub all contributed to the setting that would have been ruined by One Housing’s proposal. His report contained dozens of messages that would deter anyone from submitting any further plans without going back to the drawing board.  This now gives us scope for rethinking how this site could be reconfigured without undermining everything around it.”

A spokesman for One Housing said: “We are reviewing the appeal decision and will talk to Camden Council before making any further decisions about the Bangor Wharf site.”

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