They've Done What?


Since 2002 the council has been trying to exploit (cash-in) the potential of its property at Holborn Library and Cockpit Yard, [approx. 1 acre running from Theobalds Road to Northington St.] Camden prepared a developers' brief - what they want and how they want it. (Bear in mind they're doing this on our behalf.)  A number of developers decided that they'd give it a go.

The council has now been through a competitive selection process and chosen a developer. It has done so on the basis of a brief that none of the tenants are rehoused elsewhere.

Evidently that’s proved difficult, mainly because the site is pretty fully occupied. The only logical way to redevelop is to move some of the tenants to different accommodation. Unsurprisingly none of the competitors met the brief. The developer selection process clearly had a flaw.  How can you select a developer if none of the competitors meet the brief?  Well, Camden have a way...

The council decided to ‘descope’ the project. 'Descope!' - what in the heck does that mean?  It means the selected developer will not have to fully comply with the brief. In addition the council has agreed that the developer is responsible for deciding which aspects of the project to abandon or reduce. The already selected developer can choose what to do. It's astonishing.  A sort of pick 'n' mix choose your own profit!

Here are the key elements of the brief:

1               a renewed library and archive

2               a permanent headquarters for Cockpit Arts

3               up to 140 new affordable and market homes

4               ancillary services including the street cleaning depot

5               a capital receipt to pay for other council services

It is not so difficult to guess which elements a profit focussed developer will choose to downgrade or omit in order to achieve the fixed financial target set by the council - a cash receipt of £15m.

Our ward councillors have agreed to arrange a meeting, probably in April, at which local neighbours can be told what is now being proposed. You may want to attend.  You may have things you want to say.

It will be great if all who are interested in, or affected by, the proposal come to the meeting to find out what is proposed and question officers and members. We'll let you know that date and venue when it's announced.

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