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Camley Street campaigners win ‘call in’ after legal challenge

Camden legal team says it has acted lawfully but wants to avoid delays to redevelopment

26 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Paul Tomlinson had supported a call-in

THE Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday) backed down over its refusal to allow back­bench council­lors to investigate redev­elop­ment plans for prime land in King’s Cross.

The row over what should happen to council-owned sites in Camley Street has caused tension within the ruling Labour group after rebels tried to “call-in” a decision to approve a draft plan.

A “call-in” is a council term for putting the brakes on a policy and having it reviewed by a scrutiny committee, who then decide whether to recommend any changes to the cabinet.

Lawyers had refused the request led by Labour councillor Paul Tomlinson earlier this month. At the time, leader Georgia Gould and the group’s enforcer, chief whip Lazzaro Pietragnoli, emailed all members scolding them for publicly challenging party policy.

Call-ins, which need the support of a minimum of four councillors, are normally initiated by opposition groups. Camden is being challenged over its plans for Camley Street, with long-standing businesses demanding guarantees about their future.

The Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum has come up with an alternative plan which it says must be properly considered in the process.

But there are sticking points over the amount and type of housing which could be built there, whether to spend money on buying up long leases on a neighbouring site in order to create a more expansive scheme and if existing companies, mainly food suppliers, will be provided the same amount of space when the work is complete, or offered space outside the area.

The Forum consulted lawyers from Leigh Day and Co and raised the possibility of a judicial review. Yesterday the council is understood to have agreed to have a call-in after all.

Borough Solicitor Andrew Maughan

The council is insisting its decision was lawful, but a legal response from borough solicitor Andrew Maughan is understood to have said “the council does not have any desire to delay matters relating to the redevelopment of Camley Street or to be drawn into costly and time-consuming litigation over a matter such as this, thereby expending public money that could be better applied to essential services.”

As a result, the council will review the decision in September – a step which campaigners are viewing as a small victory in their attempts to get their alter­native plan on the table.

Cllr Tomlinson – a councillor in the St Pancras and Somers Town ward – said: “I’m pleased for the residents and businesses in the Camley Street area. The Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum members deserve to be recognised for all hard work they have done on the Neighbourhood Plan.”

He added: “They wanted the  Supplementary Planning Document called in because it is not accurate and need revisions before it is used in discussions with other leaseholders in Camley Street.”

Last week, the New Journal reported how regeneration chief Danny Beales faced deputations from the Forum, who appeared before a cabinet meeting. He said that the council was looking to provide “more jobs and more local jobs” on the site.

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