Development of the Camley Street/Cedar Way Estate: Part of a Virtuous Circle of Businesses in Camden

1. The context

The Camley Street/Cedar Way industrial estate and the adjoining streets of houses and flats known as Elm Village are in the London Borough of Camden, just north of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.  The industrial estate and the houses and flats were built in the 1980s.

The businesses on the industrial estate currently employ some 500 people.  Most of these skilled jobs are involved with the production, processing and distribution of food (fish, meat, cereals, groceries and drinks).  There are also other businesses: for example, an industrial laundry and an architectural model-making firm.  The businesses have been present on the estate for many years: some since it was new.  Over the years, the training of staff in product knowledge rather than simply in the production of goods has become more and more important to the businesses’ success.  In the case of Daily Fish, for example, the largest employer on the site, the processing of fish is the fastest-growing segment of the firm’s work.  It is essential to all the businesses on the estate that they retain skilled workers if they are to continue driving productivity and staff retention and engagement.

Meanwhile, London is the largest and most popular dining destination within Europe.  It is a very competitive place for food service providers.

2. Camley Street and the wider area

The purpose of this paper is to point out something about the remarkable combination of enterprises and talents working cheek by jowl in this part of Camden.  Google has major offices down the road at Kings Cross and Saint Pancras.  Facebook intends to move to that quarter soon.  The Francis Crick Centre, newly opened, is one of the world’s leading medical research institutions.  University College London is a top-class university, attracting students from all over the world.  University College London Hospital is a major teaching hospital.  The Wellcome Trust is the world’s largest funder of biomedical research.  Meanwhile, across the canal and the railway line from Camley Street, Central St Martin’s School of Art is a centre of excellence for the training of students in art and design.  In the Kings Cross lands around the School, numerous popular restaurants and shops have sprung up; more will come when the Coal Drop Yards development is finished later this year.

This concentration of knowledge industries, educational and health institutions and food outlets provides a major opportunity for the development of a kind of ‘food quarter’, which would serve those working in those industries, institutions and outlets, and would contribute to the development of their work.  In particular, there are connections between food and high-tech modes of communication, and between food and health.

3. Food and tech

Currently, there is a significant move towards integrating tech and food, in Camden and elsewhere; Deliveroo and Just Eat are examples.  When we look at crowd-funding sources like Crowdcube, we see that in the last year food and drink businesses secured £23 million by this means: almost 20% of all crowd-funding initiatives in that period (The Grocer, 27 January 2018).  This kind of integration of tech and food is one of the opportunities that we envisage for an enlarged Camley Street development (see section 6).

4. Food and health

 Hippocrates, the father of medicine, famously wrote, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’  The close relation between the quality of food and human health is beyond dispute.  Put negatively, many of the developed world’s most troubling conditions and diseases – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, various cancers – are definitively linked to eating the wrong kinds of food too much and too often.  With major health institutions (UCL Hospital, Francis Crick, Wellcome) on the doorstep, all of which communicate clear messages to the local community about healthier eating, it seems obvious that an expanded group of businesses supplying healthier food could be a significant contributor to the effective realisation of those messages.

5. Camden’s Local Plan

Camden’s Local Plan states that the borough is ‘home to 24,000 businesses and over 300,000 jobs.  The success of its economy relies on the wide variety of employment sectors…’  Over 2,900 of these businesses are in the food services sector.  The average number of employees per business in this sector is 17.  So nearly 50,000 people are employed in the sector in Camden.  Food and drink outlets promote social cohesion between those who live and work in the borough, and the importance of the sector should be recognised.

The existing businesses on the industrial estate already do an important job in supplying the needs of local schools, hospitals and restaurants.  The development proposal outlined in the next section offers an opportunity to recognise and expand further the food services sector, and its support and supply chains.

6. The Camley Street development initiative: a partnership with Camden

Camley Street Sustainability Zone and the Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum are linked local organisations bringing together the interests of the businesses on the industrial estate and those of residents on the residential estate opposite.  The two organisations have been developing a proposal for the redevelopment of the industrial estate which would maintain the existing businesses in new premises, provide working space for new businesses, and provide hundreds of new homes for local people.  Most of the homes would be for rent: either social housing or ‘genuinely affordable’, meaning that rents would be pegged to a third of the average Camden income.  Some of the homes would be for sale.

Camden Council owns the freehold of the majority of the industrial estate.  The Council has made it clear that it intends in some way to redevelop the site, and the nature of the redevelopment will ultimately be the Council’s decision. Representatives of Camley Street Sustainability Zone are now meeting with officers of the Council to consider and compare the Zone’s and the Forum’s proposals for the development of the industrial estate with those which the Council is considering.  The hope and intention is that there could be some kind of amicable combining of the plans and aspirations of all parties.

7. Plans on the drawing board

Current plans drawn up for the Zone and the Forum by the architects Karakusevic Carson, who have long and successful experience of working with London boroughs on projects of this kind, envisage the expansion of employment opportunities on the estate to about 1,000 jobs.  Many of these could be in the food sector; others, particularly in the smaller workshop spaces which the plans allow for, could be for small businesses in the knowledge, computer, craft and cultural industries.

Modern building techniques and modern environmental awareness mean that there is no incompatibility between ‘basic’ industries such as food and ‘superstructure’ industries such as knowledge and culture.  Meanwhile, Camden has a crying need for more housing which local people on ordinary incomes can afford.  Again, modern building techniques and modern environmental awareness mean that the residents of hundreds of new homes in Camley Street could live happily and peacefully with their neighbours in mixed-use industries.

Camley Street Sustainability Zone and the Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum look forward to developing these ideas with Camden Council in the coming months.

The Neighbourhood Plan

What we hope is the final draft of the neighbourhood plan is now available for distribution.

The Camley Street Neighbourhood Development Plan

If you live or work within the Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum Area you will soon be recieving a leaflet informing you about this but please take the opportunity to read through it now.

Building homes and jobs in Camley Street

As part of our work on the Camley Street neighbourhood plan we have been talking to architects, planners, designers and others about how the future development of our neighbourhood can be shaped by the people who actually live and work here rather than outside property developers buying up the land and then presenting us with their vision for it’s future. As a result of a lot of discussions, meetings and simple hard graft we’ve grown the idea of creating a non-profit community led property development company from the germ of an idea into something that’s now attracting serious interest.

Those of you that have attended past events and meetings will have seen the outline of these ideas about how to provide truly affordable housing and seen how they have grown over the past couple of years into something that’s now mature enough to present to the world. A few weeks ago we made the decision to invite the Camden New Journal to meet with us and they published their report under the headline “Housing move that leaves out profit-hungry developers”

Resident Questionnaire for our Neighbourhood Plan

Over the next couple of days you should receive a leaflet and a survey questionnaire from us and we hope you can find the time to fill it in and return it as the answers you give are going to be very important in determining how Camley Street is redeveloped over the next few years.

If you’d prefer to do the survey online rather than on paper then you’ll find an interactive copy here https://planprojects.typeform.com/to/cmVhtt

If you have any questions then email us at: info at CamleyStreet.org.uk or meet us on Sunday 6th September – we’ll on Barker Drive just opposite the Garden Centre – with spare leaflets and brollies if it’s raining!

Walking and Cycling Improvements to road junctions between Pancras Rd Rail Bridge, Goods Way, Camley St, Pancras Rd, and Midland Rd

Camden Council is considering improving pedestrian and cycling facilities in our neighbourhood and is consulting residents and businesses about how best to deliver that objective.

A large part of Camden Council is moving this summer into a new building at 5 Pancras Square, King’s Cross. Apart from Council offices, the new building will also house a leisure centre and library, both of which will be available to the public. This building together with other developments in the vicinity are expected to attract a high volume of employees and visitors.

We want to improve the area for pedestrians, cyclists and those using public transport who will travel to and from the new buildings at Kings Cross. Improvements will also benefit those accessing St Pancras International Station, National Rail and London underground stations at Kings Cross.

Camden Council have published details of their initial proposals on WeAreCamden where you can find details and plan drawings of the proposed changes.

Send your responses to the below address by 29 August 2014 to:

London Borough of Camden,
Culture and Environment Directorate,
Transport Strategy Service,
FREEPOST RLZH-UEYC-ACZZ,
5th floor
5 Pancras Square
London
N1C 4AG

HS2 webchats with Camden Councillors

Invitation to “Getting a fair deal for Camden on HS2” web chats

  • Tuesday 15 July 2014, 1-2pm at We Are Camden – with Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning, Camden Council
  • Thursday 17 July 2014, 7-8pm at We Are Camden – with Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader, Camden Council

Camden stands to lose the most from HS2 and benefit the least. Yet our residents and businesses have been dealt the worst compensation deal in the country, and will have inadequate protection from more than a decade of disruption on their doorsteps.

Now that Members of Parliament have voted for HS2 to go ahead, it’s more important than ever that Camden Council works on behalf of our residents and businesses to try to improve the Government’s current plans.

Take part in our web chats

If your home or business will be affected by HS2 in Camden you are invited to take part in the web chats we are hosting on Tuesday 15 July 2014 from 1-2pm and on Thursday 17 July from 7-8pm, to talk about the issues that concern you most.

The discussion will form part of Camden Council’s community conversations on HS2, which is a way of making sure we raise the issues that concern you most in our work to improve the deal for the borough.

The web chats will be open for one hour. To join them:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014: Visit We Are Camden between 1-2pm
Thursday, 17 July 2014: Visit We Are Camden between 7-8pm.

If you wish, you can email your questions in advance to highspeed2@camden.gov.uk and we will answer them during the web chats.

We hope that you can make it.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Sarah Hayward, Councillor Phil Jones

Camden’s ‘West End Project’ for the future of Tottenham Court Road

Camden council’s proposed West End project will transform the Tottenham Court Road area, making it safer and more attractive for residents, boosting business and creating new public spaces.

The one-way system will be replaced with two-way tree-lined streets, some protected cycle lanes and new public space. The scheme will reduce congestion and pollution, widen pavements and make bus journeys quicker.

Camden have secured £26 million of investment to improve Camden’s West End. The improvements will unlock the area’s potential, boosting business and creating new public spaces for the community and visitors to enjoy.

Have your say

Camden Council are seeking views on the proposals, a public consultation started on 9 June and will run until 18 July 2014.

  • Share your views and find further details on the proposals to improve the West End in Camden online at www.wearecamden.org/westendproject
  • Visit a public exhibition about the project at the Building Centre, 26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT until 11 July. On Monday 7 July (5pm to 8pm), council officers will be at the exhibition to answer your questions about the project
  • View and fill in hard copies of the consultation documents at Holborn library or St Pancras library.

First Planning Application for 101 Camley Street

The first planning application for 101 Camley Street has been submitted by the developers and has been published Camden Council’s website as planning appllication reference 2014/2674/P and as with the recent planning application for 102 Camley Street this asks for a decision as to whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required.

It only took a few days for Camden to decide that, in both cases, an EIA is not required.

First Planning Application for 102 Camley Street

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?

Assets of Community Value

The Localism Act gives us the opportunity to register properties in our neighbourhood called ‘assets of community value’ that are of especial social or ammenity value.  Registering these properties means is that if the owner wants to sell it then:

  1. They have to notify the Local Council and the Neighbourhood Forum
  2. There is then a six-month pause before the property can be sold to give the Neighbourhood forum or other community group time to raise funds and put together a business case that would enable it make an offer for the property.
  3. The seller of the property does not have to accept that offer, even if it’s the highest, but of course that might make any subsequent planning applications involving a change of use more difficult to obtain.

Properties within the Camlety Street Neighbourhood Forum that have been suggested as Assets of Community Value are:

  • The Constitution Pub
  • Jubilee Centre (currently the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children)
  • Camley Street Natural Park
  • St Pacras Yaght Basin
  • Barker Drive Park

And if you feel there are more please do nominate it.

Meeting with Camden Council on 30 January 2014

Thank you to the 60+ people who came along to the meeting on Thursday evening. It was really heartening to see so many neighbours there – and of course local businesses, Councillors and Council officers.

The fact that all three of our ward Councillors (Peter BrayshawSumata Khatoon and Roger Robinson) were there as well as Councillor Theo Blackwell (Camden Cabinet member for Finance) supported by no less than four senior members of Camden’s Planning and Property team shows the seriousness with which we are regarded and the importance they attribute to the Camley Street and Elm Village neighbourhood.

There was a lot of information presented and many topics raised in the Q&A and I’ll not attempt to recap all of that here (watch out for future updates on the website) but I felt it was heartening to see the high level of agreement there was on many subjects and the fact that all parties, especially the Council, reacted positively to some frank exchanges of view.

There’s a lot of work to do but we are now on the move and there’s plenty to build on.

And once again, thank you for your support.

Peter & David