CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Housing move that leaves out profit-hungry developers

16 February, 2017

Mario Raggio, financial director at IMS Smith­fields, Alex Smith, of Alara, and Tony Meadows, sales director of IMS Smithfields, who have drawn up their own plans for new housing

AT last comes an idea about the use of land that is a little out of the ordinary and all the more compelling because of that.

We refer to the proposal by a group of businessmen to lease a stretch of land in King’s Cross from Camden Council and develop it in the most socially useful way.

Nor is it pie in the sky. The authors have been in talks with large pension fund investors who are attracted to the idea, and willing to consider investing £500million in the Camley Street site.

With the kind of enthusiasm you would expect of such self-made business­men, they have discussed the concept with Camden Council officials and councillors who, unfortun­ately, do not appear to have warmly embraced it. Though it is bound to take time for all the advantages for the council to sink in.

Under this scheme, the land due to be developed remains in the ownership of the council, while the development itself allows for a mixture of manufacturing units and socially rented homes – not to be rented at 80 per cent of the “market” level, as per government policy, but at reasonable levels that can be afforded by those on average income.

Note that such a scheme leaves out profit-hungry developers who, inevitably, are more concerned with a good “return” on their investment than what is of lasting value to the community.

In recent weeks public schemes run by the council, in one form or another, have stirred up debate.

We trust there will now be a debate on this new scheme.

Sobering words on cuts to schools

THE warnings from Haverstock headteacher John Dowd will make sobering reading for any parent.

Bravely, Mr Dowd has come forward to explain how the worst cuts to school funding in decades will affect his school.

Bulging class sizes, teaching posts axed and trips for disadvantaged children stopped. Culling creative courses in the sixth form will, in turn, create a social imbalance and put in jeopardy the comprehensive education system.

These consequences will ring true in all schools across the borough. Many, it can be expected, will be worse affected.

Opposition from parents and teachers will prove crucial if this assault on education is to be assuaged. But if the government is really to listen, a national campaign must build from outside the school gates.

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