Granted: The application to change the creative workshop spaces in Anglers Lane to residential.

Re the application to change the creative workshop spaces in Anglers Lane to residential.
We canvassed opinion on this and had a lot of replies – 85% opposing this application.
We forwarded this to Camden, spelling out each objection clearly.
Then, alerted by Isabel at the Anglers Lane end of Alma St, we checked online and saw that the consultation was open until 18 September.   But that a decison was made by an officer to grant permission on 11th!
Our furious email to counclllors drew this information:
The Government claims to be promoting Localism and Neighbourhood Plans ostensibly to put power back with local people and avoid central interference.
In fact they recently brought in regulations effectively granting automatic permission for all applications for change of use from office to dwellings.
Below is the advice received on this from Aidan Brookes who is the Planning Lawyer for Camden. (This relates to another change of use application so detailed reference to that case has been removed from the quote.)

The most fundamental point is the government has laid down legal rules basically granting automatic planning permission for changes of use from office to residential – so planning authorities have been more or less cut out of the picture.

The Council certainly doesn’t agree with these legal rules and we are really concerned about their effect on Camden.

However at the same time under the  law Camden has no option but to  work within  those rules –we will be acting unlawfully if we don’t.

And the fact is  those rules only  give the Council very limited powers to intervene in this type of ‘prior approval application’ –we cannot assess them against Camden’s general planning policies but rather only against three very narrow areas namely (i) the Transport and highways impacts (ii) the Contamination risks and (iii) flooding risks. So the points you raised about neighbour notification whilst valid and important have to be considered against that legal backdrop.

Camden can only  refuse the application on the very narrow and specific grounds laid down by the Government and quoted above.

So where the representations  highlight a concern relating  to one of those grounds (e.g. evidence of site contamination) then this could potentially point towards the application being refused. But if the representations don’t do this (or raise issues that aren’t supported by technical evidence) the Council  would not be acting correctly if it refused the prior approval .

I really hope this has gone some way to explaining why  the Council has acted the way it did –but to go over the points again, summing it up I would say:

-Camden  doesn’t  make the Planning rules-  the Government does

-in this instance Camden definitely  doesn’t agree with the Planning rules but…

-we are still  bound as a matter of law to comply with them

So there we are. Local opinion and local plans, even London wide strategic plans designed to preserve the economic health of the city mean nothing. The rehetoric about “Localism” and respect for local people’s opinions and wishes means nothing.
D & D