Centric Close Update from the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee

People may have seen the new blocks going up with some speed at the former Centric Close industrial units site in Oval Road.

There is planning permission (see details below) for 76 residential units and commercial floor space providing a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bed apartments. The development is car-free and includes landscaped courtyards and community amenity space. The permission, given to Fairview New Homes, allows for the employment floor space to be specifically designated for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with 20% to be offered at affordable rents of 50% of market rent. The housing includes 35% affordable housing.

Fairview held two public exhibitions, distributing letters and leaflets to nearby houses and flats, consulted our councillors and the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee (PHCAA), as well as local bodies such as Darwin Court and other residents associations.

The PHCAA, during a process of pre-application presentation, meetings and site visit, raised concerns which were mostly addressed in the final plan. These concerns covered the need for no reduction in the provision of affordable housing or employment space, the loss of sunlight and daylight in existing habitable rooms in the Conservation Area, especially in the houses in Oval Road, the overlooking of these same houses from a proposed four-storey block on the site, possible dangers in the design of a dark narrow walkway on the north of the site, potential light pollution from winter gardens on the residential blocks on the railway side of the site, control of the rooftop plant and a legal agreement on maintenance of the site landscaping.

At an early stage the community succeeded in getting all the blocks reduced by one floor, thus ensuring that the whole complex is considerably lower than the ten-storey Lock House next door to the site.

The potential problems regarding the overlooking of Oval Road houses and the loss of their daylight and sunlight were not properly addressed in the final plans. This caused Oval Road residents to mount a protest campaign which sadly came in late, and did not succeed.
There is a Construction Management Plan attached to the planning permission, to govern the impact of the work. However, this does not address the final nature of the scheme; so although we generally welcomed the scheme, it was felt that we did not manage to make enough impact on the problematical aspects described above. Sadly, only time will tell if the Committee’s concerns were right.

Planning reference: 2016/6891/P