The proposed Kentish Town Framework Plan currently being developed by Camden Council proposes a direct link between Kentish Town tube station and Queens Crescent, via the east end of Queen’s Crescent (shown in Connecting Queen’s Crescent). It is very encouraging that both the needs and attractions of Queen’s Crescent are being acknowledged, and an effort being made to improve connections to West Kentish Town and Gospel Oak.
The Framework Plan is necessary to guide the redevelopment of Kentish Town’s old railway lands- the Regis Road Industrial estate and adjoining Murphy site. This development will be similar in scale to the new Kings Cross, and will inevitably have a large impact on Kentish Town. There are various connection points via which the impact of the new development will be felt by West Kentish Towners.
KENTISH TOWN CITY FARM
It is proposed in the draft Framework Plan that the Kentish Town City Farm could have a new connection to the Regis Road area through an arch in the railway viaduct. The residents of the new housing in the Regis Road site would benefit from direct access to the Farm, and the Farm could attract more visitors. The draft plan suggests that Kentish Town City farm could be involved in many activities on the Regis Road site. It is also suggested that the Farm would become part of a secondary route from Kentish Town to the Gospel Oak, although there is little consideration of the impact that this may have on the delicate ecology of the Farm site.
The Framework envisages more active use of the railway viaducts. This will need careful consideration of people living and playing immediately adjacent to the viaduct.
The existing railway bridge at the end of Arctic Street would be opened up to provide a access to the Regis Road site. This is in a similar location to the pedestrian link that existed several years ago, which made life so much easier for access to Kentish Town. The memory of this handy route gives a hint of what more could be achieved if redevelopment follows the plan, with easy access for West Kentish Towners to a myriad of opportunities for work and leisure, including a bridge connection to the Murphy site linking a series of new cultural spaces, and a new route to Hampstead Heath.
HOLMES ROAD AND GRAFTON ROAD
The southern end of the development site will be accessible from Holmes Road and Spring Place, and will link to the existing commercial cluster in this area (running down the side of viaduct to Kentish Town West, see here). The railway bridge over Grafton Road becomes a gateway joining the new development area with West Kentish Town. The redevelopment of West Kentish Town estate will hopefully include a significant quantity of workspace in this location, which will help to provide a connection with the Framework area and improve economic opportunity throughout the neighbourhood.
The Kentish Town Planning Framework calls for a certain number of homes to be provided on the Murphy site (750) and the Regis Road site (1,250). These numbers have led to the developer of the Murphy site to propose 20 storey towers to the east of Oak Village, as there are restrictions on locating homes elsewhere. This shows a lack of respect to residents of Hemmingway Close and Meru Close, and a lack of care regards the impact on Kentish Town City Farm. The housing target for the Murphy site set by Camden should be reduced to avoid these harmful outcomes.
STRATEGIC PLAN FOR HAVERSTOCK AND GOSPEL OAK
The Kentish Town Planning Framework should take into account the impact of the development on neighbouring West Kentish Town and Gospel Oak. It does not currently address the issues affecting the area west of of the railway that separates the area from Gospel Oak and Haverstock wards. It acknowledges the railway viaduct as a major severance in the area but other than identify two potential new crossings through arches into an existing street there is no aspiration on the part of Camden to take a similar approach on the western side of the railway to knit the whole area together. The connection points are not listed as priorities in the Framework.
Local people have been calling for a strategic plan for West Kentish Town and Gospel Oak since 2018, but this has not been forthcoming. Two planning frameworks sitting side by side and reading across both areas would enable the Council to address endemic issues in this part of Camden. The lack of a planning framework for Gospel Oak and West Kentish Town hinders the Kentish Town Planning Framework ’s potential to address fundamental issues in the wider area.
Extract from the keymap for Camden’s site allocations policy consultation (February 2020).
2020 DRAFT SITE ALLOCATIONS PLAN
Camden’s Site Allocations Plan identifies a range of suitable locations for housing, employment and other uses and sets out the Council’s preferred approach to their redevelopment. In the plan, Kentish Town is listed as a Major Site (which is directly linked to the production of a Planning Framework) whilst West Kentish Town Estate and the Wendling and St Stephens Close Estates are listed as “Other”. The only real difference is that in the case of the latter two sites the submission came directly from Camden’s Community Investment Programme (CIP). Classing these estates as “Other” rather than a Major Site is very telling, and provides evidence that CIP either does not recognise the strategic importance of these sites, or is purposefully avoiding this acknowledgement in order to have as free a hand as possible to redevelop these sites without onerous planning policy in place. The implication is that the sites in Haverstock and Gospel Oak will not be treated as strategically important both on a local level and in the context of the surrounding areas, and so will not deliver their potential. The description in the draft Site Allocation plan of what needs to be addressed in the redevelopment of these sites underplays the scale of the issues currently faced. It is evident that CIP will not do the job of the planning authority, as a plan making body, to deliver improvements for the wider area.