The first planning application for 102 Camley Street was published today, Friday 11 April, as application number 2014/2550/P on Camden’s website – click on this to go directly to it.
The exact words on the planning application that it is a “Request for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Opinion for the demolition of existing warehouse building and the construction of a new mixed use building comprising ground plus 12 storeys of accommodation above ground and 2 basement levels providing a total floor space of approximately 17,000 GEA.”
What this means is that the developer is asking Camden to say whether or not it wants it (the developer) to produce an EIA before it demolishes the existing ‘Marigold’ building and replaces it with a 12 storey building.
Putting in a request like this is not a mandatory part of the planning process so for example no EIA request was submitted for 103 Camley Street. But not asking if one will be required runs the risk that it will be asked for some time later in the project, possibly at a much less convenient moment.
The laws governing EIA’s and when they are and are not required are in the town & Country Planning regulations 2011 (I think) but these give the local planning authority considerable discretion. Normally EIA’s are only requested when the site being developed is larger than 0.5 Hectares (5000 square metres) or when the site has some special value such as being a site of special scientific interest or a centre of particular economic activity. So it seems unlikely that Camden would ordinarily request one.
In this case therefore it might seem that Camden would not be likely to request one but there are a few additional factors:
- The site borders the regents Canal and therefore redeveloping it will affect the flora and fauna that inhabit those borders.
- Ditto for the railway sidings it backs onto.
- Although the site is of itself less than 0.5 Hectare it is part of a set of sites have been or are likely to be developed within the short term, and all managed by the same promoter. Those sites are 103 Camley Street (now nearly complete), 102 Camley Street (this proposal), 101 Camley Street (plans and proposals exhibited at the same event on 6 March 2014) and 104 Camley Street (‘coloured in’ on the maps displayed at the same public exhibition). Collectively this is easily more than 0.5 Hectare.
- Additionally, considered as a set of sites, three of the four sites have canal frontages and two border railway sidings so the points about local flora and fauna apply multiply
- Within the context of the Act the work ‘environmental’ also means to include social and economic effects so the fact that this project will reduce jobs in the area is a relevant factor.
I spoke briefly with the case officer in Camden Planning Department and asked what normally happened in response to these requests and he told me that apart from making the request public on the Camden.gov.org website (which is done) they do not normally publicise it beyond that or actively seek comment – but it would be perfectly reasonably to submit comments if that was desired. The closing date for comments is 21 days after the application was made and as that was 4 April the closing date is 21 April.
So do we have opinions to give?