Gospel Oak and Haverstock Community Vision January 2020

London Borough of Camden held two ‘drop-in events’ about the future of West Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and Queens Crescent on 22nd 30th of January. The following comments are from people who attended:

“The drop-in display was short of information about many things. There was

  • no overall plan of the area showing areas of Camden work- only the timeline board integrating the current major projects
  • 100% on what Camden is doing, as if they cannot distinguish between what’s on their corporate agenda and what an area plan is, i.e total confusion between corporate priorities and a neighbourhood plan that understands the future is full of unknowns so it is therefore important to make commitments in advance
  • no recognition at all that other actors besides Camden may seek to do development in the area
  • chaotic display
  • no perspective on the forces acting on the neighbourhood e.g.
    • residential market driven by cheap capital (upward interest rate trajectory likely to have devastating impact)
    • high value of our location
    • consolidation of economic activity in Central Activities Zone & peri-urban locations (road system, cheaper land for warehousing etc) all leading to undermining of local economic activity
    • slow dissolution of the neighbourhood framework (loss of revenue funding for key institutions, loss of disposable income as benefits cut, the concentration of deprivation through residualisation of Council Housing)
  • no notion of neighbourhood defining spaces aside from Queens Crescent: the most important one missing being Malden Road
  • no explicit recognition of neighbourhood as an organising principle: in our case, GO/WKT has an enduring historical identity to which many of us are attached to, which is sustained by the local endowment of institutions e.g schools, churches, library, sheltered accommodation (almshouse, OAP home, sheltered housing), shops, community buildings, open spaces etc
  • no clarification of the legal status of a Community Vision: i.e. how it relates formally to planning policy (one assumes it has absolutely zero status, in fact)
  • no clarification of the citizen assembly process, its legal status, the need for neutral management, and objective processing of the results of its deliberations.”

200130_Safer Camden network200130_Community Vision 1


200130_Community Vision 3

“Very poor quality presentation- not much effort made.”

“I went to the one in QC library, absolutely pointless. People there didn’t have a clue to the proposed plans and couldn’t answer my questions! ”


“Camden makes the key point that fundamentally the character and shape of the proposed developments are a consequence of the numbers and the money. But what they don’t say is that these numbers derive from an historical policy choice, i.e. Camden’s decision to adopt an austerity-driven capital investment model as its Flagship aka CIP aka Camden’s North Sea Oil aka Local Authority Land Sell Off. This approach if it ever had any merit is now way past its sell-by date, and could and should be scrapped. Even Boris Johnson gets it – austerity is so over; time to borrow to build (money has never been cheaper in fact THEY pay you!) BUT build right and build proper!”


On Camden’s website the following explanation of the ‘Community Vision for Gospel Oak and Haverstock:

In autumn 2019 we would like to work further with local people in looking at how we could invest in the area to help make Gospel Oak and Haverstock wards an even better place to live and work. Here are some of the ideas and themes we will be asking for views on:
Community and Youth Facilities
Community Safety
Queen’s Crescent
Schools and special education facilities
Health facilities
Getting around / local routes
Open space and Environmental Quality
Development Impact
Public Art

“A “community vision” is not a substitute for planning. Camden is 10 years into CIP and has no area plan for GO/Haverstock yet has advanced plans for developing on a massive scale across the area. Many of us see the situation as betokening the failure to do things properly. Consultation, however often performed, does not remove the duty to plan seriously at scale.”


Taken from a poster at a drop-in at Rhyl School:

As a citizens’ assembly, The Neighbourhood Assembly for Gospel Oak and Haverstock will be a group of local residents who are brought together to discuss issues related to the Community Visioning exercise and reach conclusions about what they think
should happen. The Assembly will consist of up to 50 local people who are reflective of the wider population of the area in terms of demographics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity and type of tenure). This assembly will give members the time and opportunity to learn
about and discuss topics with a wide range of experts, before reaching conclusions. Assembly members will be asked to consider trade-offs between different policy options and arrive at workable recommendations to help shape the Community Vision,
We will be writing to recruit members for the assembly in the comings weeks, with the first set of meetings to begin soon after. The Neighbourhood Assembly will then be reconvened at regular points up until the adoption of the Community Vision to help shape its content.

“Assemblies have become v fashionable! But who selects the group?”

  • who chairs
  • who writes the agenda
  • who records proceedings
  • who interprets and précis proceedings
  • who relates the distilled finding to actual planning policy
  • who pays the chair, the recorders, the summarisers
  • what is the status of the CA?”


“The market needs to be revived. It was the top concern in one of the innumerable recent local ‘consultations’. The trees on the street would take up valuable space that should be used for stalls. In addition, unless there was a decent upkeep budget, trees would die, be vandalised, attract rubbish/used needles etc, as happens elsewhere in Camden.”


“There seem to be trees in the decorative welcome mat. They would be flattened by large delivery lorries turning into the Crescent.”

“Market storage and drinking fountain: terrific ideas”

“We are concerned about the planting of several trees in the street in large concrete planters, which will each take up a market stall space. This will harm the character of the street as the setting for a traditional market, and make it difficult for stall holders to put up their stalls as they want to, i.e. in a continuous line. It will reduce the number of stalls and flexibility for traders. We are all for ‘greening’ the street, but not at the expense of the market.”



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