Members may be aware that Essential Living (Swiss Cottage) Limited has appealed against Camden’s refusal of its application to modify the consent it obtained in 2016 to build a 24 storey block of 186 flats at 100 Avenue Road by the tube station at Swiss Cottage. The new application sought the removal of the obligation it had agreed in 2016 to include at least 36 affordable units in the new block, leaving the only “affordable housing” obligation as an obligation to ensure that 18 of the 186 flats are available on a “Discounted Market Rent” basis.
We had objected to the original application for the new development, which was eventually granted on appeal by the Secretary of State, who appeared to accept that the affordable housing to be provided in the development, and other public benefits, outweighed the harm that the development would cause to the Conservation Area.
Essential Living commenced work, demolishing the existing building in 2017 but “paused”’ significant construction works on the site in the summer of 2020, following the completion of the demolition, piling and basement box. It says that due to Covid-19, the cost of the main contract amongst other mounting costs, and significant delay to the original project timescales, inter alia, a decision was made to submit the new application in order to improve the current position on the scheme’s viability. Essential Living claims that without the removal of the 36 affordable units the development will not be viable.
BelSoc objected to the new application on the basis that the modification being sought in the application would mean that a substantial element of the public benefit would be removed but leaving the “harm” that everyone accepts will result from the development. Whether or not the project is “viable” is not a valid reason in law to modify an obligation that serves a “useful purpose” unless it will serve the useful purpose equally well after the modification. The “useful purpose” is the provision of the 36 affordable units and if that is removed by the modification clearly it cannot serve the useful purpose equally well. Camden refused the application for that reason and for a number of other reasons.
Belsoc has been accepted as a Rule 6 party at the public inquiry into the refusal of the new application which is likely to be held in mid-November.