Neighbours of West Kentish Town
New plans December 2022
Early in December, residents and neighbours got their first sight of Camden’s masterplan and phase 1 design for the West Kentish Town Estate “regeneration”. It has been met with despair…
The monster scheme triples the density of homes on site. The majority of them are homes for sale, not council rent, which are likely to be bought by buy-to-leave investors .
The new scheme imposes blocks up to 14 storeys ignoring the local pattern of 3 – 4 storey housing. Blocks along Grafton Road will be 7 to 8 storeys opposite homes which are between 2 and 3 storey.
Other design “features” are building over mature green spaces and a significant loss of mature trees, single-aspect north-facing flats in a tower block with only one stair, no TRA hall, no market trader storage or workspace, homes around pinched courtyards in permanent shadow, single-aspect flats in a new tower an arm’s length from the existing one…
But the biggest “fail” is the number of additional council homes (on top of the replacement ones) that this mammoth £565m scheme of 885 flats delivers: it is only 13. It’s a very poor social return on investment.
Redevelopment of West Kentish Town estate, 2019
Neighbours of West Kentish Town are concerned that the massive scale of development proposed in West Kentish Town will harm our neighbourhood.
Building owners on the opposite side of Grafton Road would not be permitted to knock their houses down and rebuild at 8 stories- for very good planning reasons. It would be considered overdevelopment and harmful.
We believe that the funding model that Camden employs will result in development that relates very badly to the scale and character of our area. It requires the construction and sale of two market- value homes for every one affordable, council tenanted home to be rebuilt. The funding model should be changed to ensure that Camden remains a good place to live.
How have Camden trapped us inside their dead-end thinking? Not through democracy or proper town planning. Their trick has been to define a primary group, existing residents (tenants) — as the focus of everyone’s attention, then enact what has turned out to be a mere performance of considering their needs and wants in detail.
Camden is now implying the ‘residents brief’ can’t be fulfilled completely due to ‘viability’. Five years and a lot of money spent on consultants workshopping with residents to create this brief has been wasted. As one resident said “they just don’t care”.
The residents brief, which is not being met, included:
- No north-facing single-aspect flats
- External balconies (they are set back into the building volume which is not what residents wanted)
- Separate WC from bathroom (not provided)
- Separate living room to kitchen/diner (not provided)
- Keep trees and green spaces (the scheme results in loss of trees and green space, and heavily overshadowed courtyards)
Nature + Well-being
Camden’s proposals for the redevelopment of WKT estate show existing trees and open space drastically reduced.
It is the opposite to what is needed to address the Climate, Ecological and Covid-19 Emergencies. New development should take into account the benefit of trees and nature. There is a lack of public open space in our area. Open space is even more vital now that we are living with the threat of recurring pandemics.
Neighbours of West Kentish Town have asked Camden to do a neighbourhood level Health Impact Evaluation for the proposed development for the existing population. It would consider the neighbourhood level health impact of factors such as overcrowding, population density, loss of green space, disruption and pollution due to construction.
Better West Kentish Town
Join this campaign group to fight for a better future for West Kentish Town.
You can see more about the proposals here.
The latest inflated procurement programme is so drawn out it condemns residents in the medium-term to live in flats with all the problems caused by the long years of Camden’s maintenance failures.
Those groups whose interests have been ignored for the last 5 years or longer are:
- Families needing council homes who are on the housing waiting list
- Neighbours of the estate, including those in overcrowded council/HA properties
- Middle income families excluded by the new scheme’s over-the-top provision of 1 and 2-bed flats and the Council’s aim of extracting the highest prices for new homes for sale
- Schools, market traders, local businesses etc because of Camden’s refusal to build adequate amounts of neighbourhood workspace into their scheme design
- And the estate tenants who’ve been short-changed not least because the millions paid in rents over the last 20 years (by tenants who’ve moved out too) haven’t been invested in the upkeep of homes.
Camden’s comms strategy tries to entrench the idea that the interests of all these groups are in conflict. They deliberately ignore the fact we share a public realm and all aspire to live in better conditions and stay in our neighbourhood. We’re on the same page. It’s Camden that wants local division.
People are suffering from inadequate housing in our area. This includes families living in overcrowded conditions in WKT estate. Phase 1 of Camden’s proposed redevelopment is not due to be completed until 2024 and will only house one fifth of estate residents; others will need to wait up to 10 years. We think that overcrowded families should be provided with suitably sized accommodation much sooner.
Our schools are under threat of closure because our area is no longer affordable for families. Most of the homes proposed to be built by Camden at WKT estate will be 1 and 2 bedroom flats for market value sale and wont meet local housing need. Affordable housing should be the main product of the redevelopment, not the minor part.
Below: Camden’s current proposals
Blocks in brown: replacement homes for estate residents
Green: shared private open space for social homes (135 flats). This is not sufficient for the number of existing estate residents.
Blocks in purple: private homes for sale
Yellow: private shared space for market homes
Questions for Camden Council
We support the development of West Kentish Town Estate, but want better planning, more council housing, an appropriate scale for family life, public open space and respect for nature.
Contact us at email@example.com.