At last week’s Development Control committee meeting, councillors voted 7-2 against the proposed development by Linden Homes and Wates Development of the Gondar Gardens reservoir site up in Fortune Green.
|The reservoir site at sunrise (photo via GARA)|
This is the second time Camden has turned down a plan from these developers to build flats and houses on this disused but much loved plot of land. The first proposal, for “Teletubby” style semi-submerged dwellings, is in the appeal process (due to be heard next week) and Linden Wates will presumably appeal this latest decision too.
There seemed to be some confusion as to why Camden planning officers were recommending that permission be granted, while acknowledging in their report that the plans were not always in keeping with planning policy. That, combined with an impassioned speech by Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea (who chose to remove herself from the DC for this vote so she could speak against it) and the articulate statement of a 13 year-old boy called Benjamin seemed to sway councillors.
Cllr Rea invoked images of bucolic destruction in her statement: “Imagine the diggers destroying grassland, sending valuable wildlife scurrying or slithering off into the undergrowth. Two years of construction will drive away birds and bats and probably kill off the slow worms.”
Benjamin meanwhile focused on the legacy that Camden would be leaving if councillors approved the proposals. “This is like children going into a toy shop knowing they can’t have anything. You are the parents. If you give in now, they’ll be back for more. When did one lonesome toy ever satisfy a child?”
Councillors ultimately deemed that the scheme was of little architectural merit and not in keeping with the area, while the issue of public access to the remaining open space was unclear.
For the Gondar and Agamemnon Residents Association, this was another significant victory in what has been a long-running campaign to preserve the reservoir site, which is home to slow worms and other species rarely found in built-up areas.