Regent's Canal flats are given go-ahead despite strong opposition

Artist’s drawing of how the new flats will look close to the Regent’s Canal

Fifty-four new homes to be built as planning chiefs snub hundreds of neighbours’ objections

Published: September 29, 2011

A NEW block of private and social homes will be built overlooking Regent’s Canal in the heart of Camden Town after the Town Hall approved the controversial development.

The former solicitors’ offices at Twyman House in Camden Road will be pulled down and replaced with 54 new flats. The plan will include a new walkway down to the canal, and a ground-floor café at the water’s edge.

The scheme faced  serious opposition, with the council receiving more than 200 objections. Many related to its height and size, while others feared that new households in the area would place an unbearable strain on services such as schools, transport and GP surgeries.

Regent’s Canal conservation area advisory committee member Peter Clapp said the issues around the site were typical of the problems facing people who wanted to halt over-development in their neighbourhoods.

He said the original scheme had blocks that were too high. 

“We felt that the developers should be asked to remove a storey off the top of the building,” he said.

Mr Clapp said the plans were drawing on two nearby buildings, Highstone Mansions and Shirley House, that were both large – but he added that both were anomalies in the conservation area and should not be used as a guide for new buildings.

At the planning meeting last Thursday, the developers, CIT, agreed to drop the height of the final building by just under one metre.

Mr Clapp, an architect, said the idea of a developer speaking with neighbours and the planning officers before meetings had been shown to be of little ­value.

“There were two evening meetings organised by PR consultants and often the questions they ask are totally meaningless,” he said “You may as well ask people if they like chocolate.”

Mr Clapp said he wanted planning officers resist putting in so much work to facilitate the wishes of developers.

He added: “They need to act as arbiters between the committee, Joe Public and the developers. I did not feel their report for this scheme was impartial.”

He also said the amount of time given to deputations was not long enough for balanced views to be played out.
Camden Town ward Lib Dem councillor Chris Naylor, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of residents nearby, said he felt a sensible compromise had been made.

“A few weeks before the hearing, the developers were persuaded to lose a metre from the top of the building, and nearly another at the meeting. That is what residents were asking for. They want the place improved and put back into use, but they were concerned about the effects it will have.”

Previously the site owners had asked for a 13-storey development on the site. The current design showed the new building reaching eight storeys at its highest point. Instead of removing one storey, the developers’ architects agreed to shave off 700 millimetres.

The committee also heard from resident Tristan Hickey. As well as stating he believed the scheme was too large, Mr Hickey, who has lived in neighbouring Bonny Street since 1995, wanted builders to be banned from working on Saturdays.

He said: “I would move house now if I could afford to.

“I wasn’t happy with the scheme, but I understand it is going ahead, so I wanted to make sure building work took place from Monday to Friday.”

Mr Hickey said he has two teenagers living at home who are both studying for exams and he fears the disruption on the project will affect their chances.


Great development

Access to the towpath from Camden Road will be great! And the cafe might help to reduce antisocial behaviour by canal. Sounds good to me.

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