By News Reporters

The Workhouse in Dickens' day
Wot! You want MORE affordable housing?!!

Residents are angry about the lack of affordable housing being proposed on the former hospital and Victorian workhouse site in Cleveland Street and overdevelopment in a conservation area.

Residents were invited to view an exhibition in November where summary plans were displayed.

University College London Hospital NHS Trust who own the site are keen to get as high a price for the property and seeking to maximise the amount of market-priced housing built.
The Trust also want to provide off-street parking in the basement of the development in order to add value to the private flats. This is against Camden council’s policy of car-free new developments. However, the proposals do include secure bicycle parking.

There is also concern by residents that the proposed building will be too high, too bulky and lacking in open space and ignoring agreed planning guidelines.

Ian Lloyd of UCLH NHS Trust stated: “The Cleveland Street site of the former Middlesex Hospital outpatients department has been identified by UCLH NHS Foundation Trust as a location to fulfil an outstanding obligation to provide affordable housing in the local area. We take this obligation seriously and see the current proposal as a positive way forward.

“The current proposal meets the affordable housing obligation as it will provide up to 75 affordable units (50 percent of the proposed development). Once fully designed and detailed, and having taken account of comments received, the scheme will be submitted to Camden for planning permission,” said Mr Lloyd.
However, the hospital Trust are currently in breach of its agreements to provide social housing in Fitzrovia and residents accuse the Hospital Trust of “double counting” the units of social housing on the site and making false claims about providing the full 50 percent of affordable housing on the site.

Max Neufeld of the Charlotte Street Association explained that the issue is “complicated because there are two pots of obligations here.

“The first is the Hospital Trust’s obligation under a section 106 agreement to provide about 44 units of social housing; the second is their obligation to meet a target of 50 percent affordable housing to comply with Camden Council’s planning guidance. These two pots of social and affordable housing need to be added together. But the very real danger is that the two separate issues will be fudged and some of the homes will be double-counted.”

Camden Council will have to ensure that the Hospital Trust fulfils this agreement. But Camden also have a lot of discretion when giving planning permission for any development with regard to its policy on housing provision.

Although Camden have set a target of 50 percent affordable housing on new developments, it also has to consider the viability of any scheme. The Hospital Trust argue that it needs to raise as much money as possible when disposing of its property.

Many local people campaigned against the preservation of the original workhouse building and favoured a proposal to bring much-needed social housing onto the site. Although the current building has some historic and aesthetic value it was not listed and so permission to demolish the building could be granted by Camden council.

Peter Whyatt, one of these campaigners, said: “It is clear that the Hospital Trust is trying to wriggle out of its commitment to deliver social housing. They are now behaving like Scrooge. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious issue.”

Bertie Dinnage, chair of the Charlotte Street Association, was very disappointed with the proposed development. “It is too high, too bulky, not only in relation to the quality of the environment on the site, but also in relation to the surrounding listed buildings and the character of the conservation area.”

Mr Dinnage also suggested that the central open space in the development was a “recipe for conflict”. Children playing in the central area could disturb residents because the sound would bounce off the hard surfaces in the horseshoe shaped central space.

A report to Camden council’s development control committee on 19 November stated the site would only be suitable for about 93 homes in total. The report also re-stated that the hospital is bound to discharge its obligation to provide 30 socially-rented homes plus another 1,425 square metres of social housing (about 14 homes) in this development, as well as comply with the guidelines set out in Camden’s development framework. “Any new development would also be expected make a positive contribution to the Charlotte Street conservation area” the report stated.

Background information and 106 documents here. Development Control 19 November report here see Report – Item 10B Camden LDF Site Allocations Appendix 1 (3.1 MB).

2 replies on “Fitzrovia – Hospital amputates affordable housing from workhouse site”

  1. Your headline “Hospital amputates affordable housing from workhouse site” is misleading because it suggests that the trust is offering NO affordable housing. The facts presented in the article admit that the scheme will include affordable housing. The article argues that there are not enough affordable units, not that there are none at all.

    Your article also implies that everyone who has seen the proposal is against it. I went to the exhibit and was very pleased with the proposal. As to claims it is “out of scale” or “too high” for the neighborhood, one of the beauties of Fitzrovia is its variety. Thank goodness we don’t have the suffocating uniformity of Belgravia. Bring on some well-designed taller buildings.

    Michael Mitchell

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