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Locals lash out at proposed HOK-PLP cancer lab

Local campaigners have launched a last ditch assault on HOK and PLP’s UKCMRI cancer research centre scheme in Camden, north London

The £500 million project is set go before Camden’s planning committee later this month, and has already landed government funding and CABE support.

Local campaigners however this week criticised the scheme’s design and planning, claiming the proposed centre lacked ‘accurate definition’ and defied a planning brief which called for housing and social facilities on the 1.5 hectare site.

Natalie Bennett, chair of St Pancras and Somers Town Planning Action (SPA), said: ‘[The] proposed structure is grossly overbulky, fails to meet planners’ demand for site permeability, and is effectively an industrial building plonked down in a central London residential area.’

Jon Davidson, UKCMRI spokesperson, however claimed the building would provide significant benefits for the local community.

He said: ‘Camden is a real scientific quarter and it’s one of the leading places for science in the world, we think this is completely the right place for this institute.

‘The building has been very carefully designed in response to the civic neighbours, such as St Pancras and the British Library, and also to the finer grained buildings to the north and west.’

The UKCMRI research centre will be home to 1,250 scientists and is designed ‘to encourage cooperation between scientists and interaction with residents’ of the surrounding area.

John Mason, also of SPA, added: ‘The odd thing is that it would probably be welcomed with open arms almost anywhere else in Britain.

‘[However] Camden is the most unequal Borough in London with the widest division between rich and poor. This is the last thing Somers Town with its lethal cocktail of overcrowded housing, poverty, poor educational attainment and illhealth, needs.’

In April this year PLP was brought in to work ‘in collaboration’ with HOK on the project. The practices ‘sexed up’ designs were unveiled in late June.

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