October: Appeal Hearing about the plan to build another student block on the Magnet Site in Holmes Road

We have been flat out the last few days at the hearing of the Appeal by the developers against the decision of Camden to refuse them permission to demolish the Magnet building and construct a block of student accommodation occupying the whole site. 

There has been huge concern about this plan for some years.  The existing block on Holmes Road provides accommodation for students from the Royal Vetinary College. It may be a small minority of them that cause the problems but enough to make life pretty miserable for local residents. 

Two reports which are typical of many more (anonymised as we haven’t yet got permission for publishing full details) : 

1.  We are a family of four, living close by. 

Since the arrival of the existing student block on Holmes Road, our two school-age children have often been woken by noisy students late at night. This is a frequent and recurring problem and adversely affects our family life and our children’s well-being. 

This is a predominantly residential area which cannot absorb a further influx of students on a scale as massive as that which is proposed. There is already an imbalance between the transient student population and the long-term residents of this conservation area. Increasing the number of students would only serve to exacerbate this.

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2.  I live close by and would like to bear witness to the extraordinary and extreme levels of noise already being produced in this road and general area by the existing student flats in Holmes Road.

The noise ebbs and flows at different times of the year, the three months between the start of a new academic year and Christmas being the worst (ie, right now) as, there are large screaming, chanting gangs of drunken students parading and marauding and screaming and shouting and yelling and laughing and singing their way up the road every single night for hours between 10pm and 4am. However, this noise is not restricted to the three months after a new academic year starts.  It goes on all year – except of course, the glorious respite of the summer break. 

For my part, when I can no longer stand their screechy, drunken Britney Spears renditions, I have resorted to standing on my balcony and yelling at them to shut up.

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Camden Council relied on a number of other planning issues and IARA sent a letter in July supporting these but the local nuisance element is the one that we are best placed to give evidence about.

David from IARA and Alex from 55 Holmes Road prepared dossiers of evidence from local people and from the Police and attended the enquiry which was held for four days this week.  They were cross examined by the developers’ rather disagreeable QC.   The Inspector noted the evidence.

We did point out that these developers are the same that played the game with 55 Holmes Rd: Build 14 flats so no need for public housing. Then later bang in an application to build some more on the roof!  Refused by Camden but allowed by the inspector on appeal.  Not a happy precedent.

The lawyers return for final submissions soon and the decision will be announced within 6 weeks. Maybe before Christmas.

Fuller report later.