Will Labour listen on Liddell Road?

14 Feb

Liddell Road pic

Camden Council has been talking about developing the Liddell Road industrial estate for a long time now, but it still amazes me that it could put forward such a flawed scheme.

In the Council elections last year, Camden Labour made all sorts of promises to build thousands of new houses – yet they are now proposing only a handful of affordable homes in this major development. The Council doesn’t own many sites like Liddell Road, so it would be a scandal if it was sold off without making a significant contribution to tackling the housing need in NW6.

Meanwhile, there are still unanswered questions regarding the impact of the Council’s ‘split-site’ model for Kingsgate primary school, as I pointed out in a previous post almost a year ago. The Council has only just got round to consulting on the implications for the admissions criteria for Kingsgate of the proposed Liddell Road site – a decision that could really matter for kids in Kilburn.

The deadline has just closed for comments on the two planning applications in relation to the development, so I have pasted below the comments submitted by Kilburn Lib Dems.

There are lots of objections from local community groups and individual residents. However, the Labour councillors representing West Hampstead and Kilburn wards are largely silent about the Liddell Road development. Lets hope they are in listening mode at last.

Main application

We strongly object to this application. The provision of only 4% social housing is a clear breach of Camden Council planning policies and the well-advanced West Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan. It also runs completely contrary to the pledges made by the Camden Labour party in the local elections last year.

The redevelopment of a light industrial site owned by the Council offers a unique opportunity to make a significant contribution towards addressing the shortage of affordable housing in West Hampstead. West Hampstead ward has one of the lowest proportions of social housing units in Camden borough, and there is also an acute need to offer shared ownership housing options to young families who are currently unable to secure a property in the area.

The financial information in relation to this application is opaque, but the Council has previously stated that its political objective is to raise £3m profit from the scheme to fund unspecified purposes in relation to schools across the borough. We disagree with the notion that this excuses the absence of social housing provision in NW6 and consider it to be totally inconsistent with Council planning policies to address the need for affordable housing.

We believe the application should include significantly larger numbers of both social and intermediate (part rent, part buy) housing units. If this application had been received from a private developer we would expect the development control committee to turn it down on these grounds, and we urge the committee to do the same in this case.

We add that vague talk from Camden Labour councillors about an intention to meet policies in relation to the provision of affordable housing in a potential future application to redevelop the Council’s site at 156 West End Lane (which has already been left dormant for over two years) are irrelevant to the committee’s considerations in relation to this application. We trust that this will be made clear when the committee makes its decision. 

School application

We have consistently campaigned for the provision of a new primary school for Kilburn and West Hampstead. However, the Council’s proposed approach to this development is not in the best interests of parents and children.

Instead of facilitating a new choice of school, the Council decided instead that the new Liddell Road building should be a second site for an expansion of Kingsgate school. We are concerned about developing a new school building designed for infant children only, on the basis of pursuing this unusual split-site model. Parents with children at both sites will face a walk of over 20mins, including negotiating the very busy West Hampstead interchange when dropping off and collecting their children.

In addition, we note there is continuing uncertainty regarding the impact of a second site on the admissions policy for Kingsgate school. The Council has only recently included a question about Kingsgate in a consultation about admissions policy for Camden schools.

This is a very important issue for Kilburn parents and the Council’s position on admissions should have been made clear before it made decisions about the split-site model and put forward a planning application on that basis.

It seems the admissions point for Kingsgate school might move north to the new Liddell Road site. We are worried this could make it more difficult for parents in the ‘southern’ parts of Kilburn ward – such as the Alexandra/Ainsworth, Abbey and Mortimer estates – to secure a place for their kids at Kingsgate.

We suggest the committee should postpone making a decision about this application until the outcome of the admissions policy consultation, and the implications for Kilburn parents, have become clear.


One Response to “Will Labour listen on Liddell Road?”

  1. Louise March 10, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    What about the poor small local businesses that have to move out of the estate with no help from the government/council to find new premises? No one seems to be thinking about them in the whole situation.

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