Camden Film Quarter was introduced to Kentish Town residents by three events taking place at the Greenwood Centre this month.
The introductory events hosted by the developer and investment firm Yoo Capital took place on Saturday 11, Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 November giving residents three opportunities to attend.
The joint venture between Yoo Capital and Camden Council seeks to convert the council’s recently upgraded Holmes Road depot and recycling centre on Regis Road into a ‘creative quarter’ delivering 1000 new homes, 50% affordable housing and up to 3000 new jobs.
Lloyd Lee, Yoo Capital Managing Partner said: “We wanted to meet our neighbours in the area to better understand the community, their thoughts on our early concept and the best way to work with people going forward.”
There were about 140 attendees in total and Yoo Capital said they were delighted by the interest and engagement at the events with many local people in the film and creative industries wanting to get involved as they’ve witnessed an increasing demand for studio space in London.
The project comes just two years after the depot was renovated and made more efficient at the cost of £8.4million and Climate Emergency Camden has written to the Council objecting to the demolition.
Sheila Hayman, member of Climate Emergency Camden said: “They [Yoo Capital] talk a very good talk and they show you examples where they’ve done similar things elsewhere and it all sounds very good in principle.
“Camden and many of these developers are living in the past and blindly carrying on as though somehow the climate and ecological emergencies weren’t real.”
Hayman explained that the council’s promise for a zero emissions neighbourhood is impossible due to the unnecessary amounts of carbon dioxide required for the project when the area’s only recycling centre works quite well already and could be improved with joined-up planning.
She added: “Affordable housing as it’s defined in law is absolutely not affordable in reality.
“What we need is social housing and we need it urgently.”
Hayman said that if this project happens, various things need to take place including aiding people from minority communities and disadvantaged cultures to get into the production and post-production business.
Camden Liberal Democrat councillor and leader of the opposition, Tom Simon said: “We don’t feel that there’s enough attention being paid to issues around embodied carbon and about the opportunities for retrofits over demolition and rebuild.
“We’re really concerned that this concept is very optimistic and is unlikely to survive contact with reality in the way that the council is saying it will.
“The way these things tend to go is that over time, the public benefits get stripped slowly away and you end up with the bare minimum in terms of what’s needed in the local community.”
Camden Liberal Democrats are concerned Yoo Capital’s role will weaken the council’s negotiating position down the road and will keep a close watch on how the project unfolds.
Responding to these concerns, Lee said they will appoint a team of sustainability experts to advise them throughout, are keen to work with all groups through the consultation process and are committed to meeting the targets including the 50% affordable housing.
Yoo Capital ensured that any project brought forward will deliver real benefits to those residing and working in Kentish Town.
The pre-application process with Camden Council will start in the new year and the firm’s next consultation event will take place in February next year.
In 2024, they are organising working groups for people with different areas of interest to input in the designs, hold regular consultations, community events and meetings.
In the meantime, Yoo Capital plans to meet with community members to understand what positive impact looks like to them and look for opportunities to deliver these immediately where possible and share more details as plans evolve.
Camden Council stated that local residents, businesses and community groups will actively contribute to shaping plans for the area and each project stage will involve planning and consultation with the community based on its priorities.
They affirmed that they will be continuing the services currently provided by the depot and recycling centre by replacing them with new council waste and recycling facilities.
They’ve said that the project aims to create a zero-emissions neighbourhood, jobs, green spaces, new social rent and living rent homes in an area where they are scarce making this unwelcoming site into a creative hub that favours the community.
Camden Council has been approached for comment.