Severe setbacks at King’s Cross this spring.
I don’t think blogging suits me: months have passed since I last wrote. A lot has been going on but I seem to be busy doing the work, and not at all inclined to write about it in the blog. Yet another reason for thinking I’ll never be Tony Benn.
Sitting here now in the countryside, with my email not working (UCL server somehow not compatible with Mac OS 10.4?) I have a sort of desert island feeling.
The main events have been on King’s Cross, reasonably well documented on www.kxrlg.org.uk . First of all, Camden Council’s Development Control Sub-Committee on 8 and 9 March considered the planning applications from Argent plc and gave permission. The Council had imposed the most extraordinary (to me) ban on communication between citizens and elected councillors who were members of that committee in the weeks leading up to that meeting. Then for the meeting itself they were all sent a 900-page report a couple of weeks ahead, and a corrected and modified version a week ahead and then a supplementary agenda on the day. They were supposed to digest this stuff.
Then, on the day. they heard statements by more than 20 deputations including us from KXRLG. All were opposed in various ways to the Argent scheme except for one Tory councillor from the GLA and a vicar who stood up, saying he was speaking on behalf of the King’s Cross Development Forum and delivered a rose-tinted gloss on the responses elicited by that Forum – quite at odds with the submission actually made by the Forum through its proper (but weak) machinery. But the predominant sense was of a lot of citizens resisting the gentrification and corporate transformation of their area, reluctant to see the land on which so many hopes had been pinned be now made over for corporate offices interspersed with some Starbucks. The whole (2 evenings) is available for download as a video at www.camden.gov.uk and the committee papers are there as well.
Some of the councillors behaved nobly, or at least conscientiously, notably Flick Rea and the indefatigable Brian Woodrow. But the meeting was cajoled to a brisk conclusion and ended up voting 8:7 and 9:6 in favour of the scheme.
This was all subject to the Mayor’s power of veto and the power of the Secretary of State to over-ride the decision and hold a public inquiry. Both have now decided not to act so there is now very little chance of this scheme being subjected to any serious scrutiny at all. I had to do a short talk about this to the Planning Research Conference here at the Bartlett and did so. I’ll attach a link to it ASAP.