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Notes of Camden Council Planning Committee Meeting 14th February 2019

A number of HNCC members attended the meeting, together with other members of the public occupying Galleries 1 and 2, overlooking the main chamber. Below, in the chamber were those who had applied to speak, including Robert Aitken, Chair of HNCC (in favour), Tamar Swade, tutor of Pilates classes in the People's Gospel Mission Hall (whose objections focused on the loss of this historical asset), Lizzie Smith, resident of Winscombe Street (also against) and two Camden Councillors.

Written submissions included Tamar's and Lizzie's statements which they were also allowed to present verbally, sharing 5 minutes of presentation time, both speaking eloquently and coherently. Thanos Morphitis, who was not present had set out a substantial objection to the whole proposal covering (i) the loss of public open space, (ii) inadequate facilities for children under 5 with no access to outside safe play space, (iii) problems in traffic, servicing, parking and deliveries, as well as (iv) the prospect of providing a cycle through-route safely in the proposed plans, but scant, if any, reference was made to his objections, except by a member of the Planning Committee, who picked up on the aspects of traffic turnaround and lack of safety for children. She later abstained, rather than voting against the proposal.

After a great deal of procedural introduction and a lengthy presentation by David Fowler, chief planning officer, members of the committee crowded around to view a model of the proposed new buildings displayed in the middle of the hall, then the submissions of those who had asked to speak were heard (as above), followed by brief statements from those in favour including Luke Joyce, Project Coordinator, a lady who coordinates the provision of youth facilities, who was "excited" by the scheme, Robert Aitken who stated that the Trustees were fully in support although they would be challenged to keep alive the activities of HNCC, which were being dispersed to neighbouring venues during the building period.

The local Labour Councillor Anna Wright spoke in favour, although she had reservations about the traffic problem and the loss of the hall in Winscombe Street and urged the Council to explore every possible option for removing the hall from the scheme if alternative finance could be found. Councillor Sian Berry was concerned about density and impact on neighbouring properties and also spoke in favour of retaining the Gospel Hall for the community and asked for options for more affordable homes to be included, and was concerned about management of the construction process in terms of environmental aspect and conditions of work, but at the same time wanted them to just get on with it.

Finally, there were questions by members of the Planning Committee, which were all very lengthy - the meeting continued from 7pm until 9pm. Briefly, the conclusions were as follows:

(1) That the application for the People's Gospel Mission Hall to be considered an Asset of Community, had been AGREED, although it was made clear that this would not necessarily have any impact on the decision of the Planning Committee. NB this Hall is off-site in adjacent Winscombe Street, and we have been informed by Luke Joyce that they are planning to use it as a site office during the building - see also a report that the Police will be using it for Boxing Classes. NB a Save the Gospel Mission Hall Group has recently been constituted, and it is clear that much further work will need to be done by this group if this Hall is to be saved for the community - see Notes of Inaugural Meeting held on 14th February 2019.

(2) The overall proposal to demolish the current buildings and build one small block to house both the Community Centre and Fresh Youth Academy, plus two blocks of new flats, numbering 41 altogether, including just seven to be rented out at "affordable" rates, was AGREED.  

DRAFT NOTES (mainly from memory - MF) at 17/2/2019 which may be updated as a result of other contributions and/or further viewing of the podcast of the meeting: