This email is designed to bring members up to date with what is going on and to start to form a draft of what the KXRLG might submit as a collective view - but this is only feasible if we have a members' meeting and/or a lot of responses from members.
I was able to attend part of the meeting yesterday and have had one email exchange with the planners doing the work. It may be that others can contribute other information and views to this draft on the basis of their experiences in the meetings, or other knowledge they have gleaned.
1. Scope of the plan. It seems that this plan they are doing is a non-statutory plan (i.e. not part of the "development plan" which governs planning permissions). It is made in the framework of the council's "community strategy" which covers the whole range of council services and services etc provided by other public and private bodies. So it is NOT just about land use and planning permissions. It is also NOT the Opportunity Area Planning Framework for the King's Cross Opportunity Area - which ought to exist but doesn't (as far as I know). However I am told by an expert that it could be more influential as a bit of the community strategy than it might have been within the town planning system because it can deal with budgets, compulsory purchase and lots of other important matters.
2. Time scale. This is an express train. They envisage producing a draft plan in December 2010 and then having consultations and finalising it in March 2011.
3. Consultation process: Not clear. The 'independent facilitator' who ran yesterday's meeting will be gathering together the views expressed and writing a report. It was not clear whether citizens would be able to see her report or comment on the accuracy of its coverage of comments. Since this is not a "development plan document' (see 1 above) Camden's Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) does not apply, but we could perhaps expect that the process will be at least as good as the SCI would require. Does anyone have the SCI or know what it says?
4. Boundaries. The study area stops at the borough boundary and this was the subject of objections - some fierce - from a number of people from both Boroughs at yesterday's meeting. Officers said in an email and at the meeting that they '...would be consulting with Islington colleagues'. This did not at all satisfy yesterday's complainants who insisted that LBI people and council should be engaged from the outset. The plan excludes the area south of the Euston Road (!) and includes "... the area around the major stations on Euston Road as well the wider 'hinterland' and residential communities around the Argent site including Somers Town to the west, Camley Street and Elm Village to the north-west and Maiden Lane estate to the north."
5. I had asked in an email whether this plan could be a mechanism for managing the implementation issues in York Way where populations will be building up (new social housing, special needs housing, student housing, university staff and students) alongside established residents, all needing retail and service support, bus services etc. Matthew Furness of Camden planning replied "This would be forum in which you could raise the implementation framework if this is important to your group, along with any other issues you think are important in the Kings Cross area. At this stage we want to hear the full breadth of issues that are considered important locally."
6. I had also asked whether we could have regular reports on the implementation of S106 agreements in the area and was told "We have a Section 106 monitoring officer within the Site Development Team in planning. The manager of this team is Dave Morrissey who can be contacted by email at David.Morrissey@camden.gov.uk and any specific enquires relating to the KX S106 can be directed to him in the first instance."
7. We have made it clear that there is not yet a concerted response from KXRLG. We also said that the issues we would raise would be likely to include:
(i) The overwhelming need to protect and enlarge the stock of social rented housing and relieve overcrowding within that sector and among private renters;
(ii) The need to remove the (implicitly negative) references to "single-tenure estates" in the document on the grounds that (a) all estates are now of mixed tenure; (b) policies aimed at taking land which could be used for more social housing and instead using them for other tenures are a mistake and are based on discredited assumptions and stereotypes;
(iii) The York Way etc issues referred to at 5 above.
(iv) Welcome the positive reference to helping unemployed people into work, but seek some related actions.
8. The LBC speakers at the meeting yesterday spoke of the need to face some important choices. This is a very welcome approach, but no choices are yet set out.
The document circulated for discussion by Camden does not appear to be on Camden's web site. You can get it at http://www.kxrlg.org.uk/news/LBC20101008
Michael Edwards, co-chair
King's Cross Railway Lands Group
5 Caledonian Road