Community Housing in Camden Town
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At the same time as people searched for a new use for the Roundhouse and for new industry to revive Camden Town, the battle about the future of the Camden Goods Yard site continued. It was owned by the National Freight Corporation, which hoped to develop it for profit. This would be achieved by building expensive houses for sale. Instead. Camden Council wanted to compulsorily purchase the site and develop it as fair-price rented accommodation. Should it be for sale or renting? What sort of people should be able to live there? In 1987 there was a five-week Public Inquiry into National Freight's plan to develop the fifteen acre site for private sale.
In December 1987 the Inspector ruled in NFC's favour. A new access road would have to be built from Ferdinand Road, under the rail line from Camden Road to Primrose Hill, at the cost of several million pounds. This would be paid for by the Ministry of Transport, so that figure did not come into the housing equation. Later the proposed demolition of an industrial building in Oval Road was turned down, so that the planned through road could not be built, but the scheme for speculative private housing had won the day. However, the slump put paid to that particular scheme almost at once.
In 1990 Hyperion, the property arm of the National Freight Corporation, proposed a multi-million pound scheme to build 437 'yuppie type' homes on the site and a large office development. This plan did not include any community housing, leaving Camden with no planning gain at all. Supported by a vigorous local protest campaign, Camden opposed this.
At about the same time, the Council planned to reposition the Arlington Road Works Depot and the Jamestown Recycling Centre on the Goods Yard site. This would make room for low-rent housing development in Arlington Road, on the south side of the canal. In October 1990, Camden Town Development Trust, a charity, proposed new plans for the Arlington Road site. They proposed to create nearly 700 much-needed jobs and house 207 people on Camden's waiting list by erecting 59 low-rise flats, training workshops and a creche. This was to be subsidized by shops and offices, together with a cafe or restaurant built alongside the canal.
The stories of the various sites and how they are to be developed will be examined in the rest of the book. It could be a very different Camden Town a few years from now.
Camden Town Conservation Area
In 1986 a Conservation Area was set up to protect some parts of Camden Town from unsuitable development. It included the area north-east of the railway cutting and from Mornington Crescent to Inverness Street. In 1997 it was extended to cover more streets beyond the High Street and including a wedge starting from the Tube Station
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|This wedge is due for massive redevelopment in the next few years. It could look like The Angel or Bond Street tube stations; out of scale for Camden Town. Let us hope that the heights will be kept down and the mass is not too overpowering. Keeping Camden Town’s small-scale friendliness was a real design challenge.
When the Conservation Area was first set up, in 1986, it included the area north of the railway cutting, across to the High Street
and from Mornington Crescent to Inverness Street. In 1997 it was extended to cover more streets north east of the High Street
and including a wedge from the Tube Station. This wedge is due for massive redevelopment in the next few years. It may look
like Bond Street, or The Angel. Let us hope that the heights will be kept down, and the mass is not overpowering.
Camden Town Conservation Areas
The market traders opposite Inverness Street were up in arms immediately, calling on Camden Council to protect them. They could see that the whole atmosphere of the area could be threatened.
At that time London Transport had given away no details, There was immediate concern about building height. High buildings would make a lot of money, but over the years the Council has resisted all attempts at visible increases in height. Later developments have shown the effect of this Council edict. A few architects have added small increases in height, set back and invisible from the road, but there are no high buildings. It is a triumph of firmness and good architectural manners.
Camden Town Tube Station
On 30th April 1998 the Camden New Journal reported that London Transport was buying up the leases near Camden Town Station. Plans were still secret, but shops and a church between the present station and Buck Street had been approached. The whole triangle, including the present open market, would be demolished. Two months earlier the same paper had mentioned a new ‘aerodynamically designed glass box’ which would contain a new station with an extra entrance at the corner of Buck Street. The liver- coloured Doulton Ware frontage of the old station would go, as would the Art Deco Midland Bank. There would be a large covered shopping mall, but little else was known.
London Transport confirmed that the plans were in a very early stage and would not start before AD 2002 at the earliest.
The map shows the area involved, right in the middle of Camden Town. A new town centre like Bond Street Tube or the new Angel Station seemed to be on the drawing board. The area was under threat.