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Camden New Journal - by PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 27 March 2008
The Adelaide Road surgery that could be set to be replaced by a tower block
The Adelaide Road surgery that could be set to be replaced by a tower block
‘30-storey skyscraper to dominate Primrose Hill’

Developers want to replace GPs’ surgery with tower block

A NEW tower block could soar over the Primrose Hill skyline under plans to develop a Belsize Park doctors’ surgery, the New Journal has learned.
Developers have begun talks with planning authorities on proposals to construct an “iconic building”, to be built on the site of a garage and existing GP surgery in Adelaide Road.
In order to pay for proposed massive regeneration and the construction of a new park, as well as dozens of affordable homes, the building could be as high as 30 storeys.
And discussions are under way with Camden Primary Care Trust, which could seize the opportunity to meet government targets on expanding GPs clinics by leasing up to three floors of the proposed structure to house the new brand of combined GP and non-emergency functions.
Around 50,000 patients could be treated at this multi-GP practice.
Although plans are at the pre-application stage, developers Adelaide Partners have made app­roaches to the Adelaide Medical Centre and the owners of the Modern Motors garage, on which the block would be built.
But a spokeswoman for Camden PCT said yesterday: “Camden PCT is aware of the potential development and, as with any development, the PCT would be involved to see if there were any opportunities for the development of healthcare facilities. This development potentially provides new premises for a number of local practices.”
The spokeswoman added that the PCT would not seek to build a polyclinic – the government’s controversial new vision for combining GP surgeries with some hospital functions – on the site.
The prospect of a new high-rise is not universally welcomed in Adelaide Road, which contains some of Camden’s tallest existing housing in the five 20-storey blocks of the 1960s Chalcots estate as well as the 13-storey Swiss Cottage development, Jubilee Heights.
The 19-storey Blashford block sits next to the proposed site and is a poor advert for high-rise living according to Kathie Finch, who has lived there for 36 years.
She said: “I think it’s a horrendous idea. We haven’t much space as it is and this block stands alone. It’s bad enough for car parking spaces without more pressure coming from a new block.”
Architect Gordon Maclean, who assesses planning issues for the Belsize Residents’ Association, said: “If there was an application of that nature we’d have to look at it when it came and I would not like to prejudge it. But I would add that in principle I do not like the idea of any more very high buildings – they are old fashioned, old hat, and not fit for purpose. And the Adelaide clinic is rather a good building.”
But Adelaide Partners chief Paul Grieve said the proposal was many “public consultations away from planning consent” and would include “substantial contributions for the public benefit”, including solid green credentials.
Outline benefits inc­lude an education centre for the adjacent Adelaide Nature Reserve, the creation of a new park along Primrose Hill Road, a public square on the site of the existing medical centre, and a substantial affordable housing element in the tower.
Under the full scheme, the development could also pay for the completion of works on Blashford.
Mr Grieve said: “It is only an idea at present, and it will be driven by the doctors, so there is not going to be a corporate takeover, as has been suggested.
“But it does include the improvement of public services, the enlargement of public open space, the fostering of bio-diversity, and the provision of sustainable housing in a community where there is a need for accommodation. I would like to see my group build a really iconic design with a long list of benefits.”
The fact that Adelaide already contained high-rise housing meant that planners had previously agreed that the area was suitable for such development, and could do so again, he added.
The scheme has found approval as well as detractors since it leaked as rumour among patients at the clinic in recent days.
Peter Darley, of the Camden Railway Heritage Trust, said rail enthusiasts would welcome any scheme which opened up views of the eastern portal of Primrose Hill Tunnel, an engineering wonder when it was built in 1837 by Robert Stephenson. It is is currently hidden behind the Adelaide Nature Reserve. The developers propose building platforms in the new park to view the tunnel.
Mr Darley said: “As I understand it, this building could be an extraordinary windfall for us because the things they’re proposing are almost exactly what we’ve been suggesting to Camden for some time.”
A Camden Council spokesman confirmed yesterday that preliminary discussions with the developer had taken place but were “at a very early stage”.
He said: “The planning department is not expecting any application in the immediate future.”

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