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Fresh row hits Camden chairman

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Camden's embattled planning chairman, Brian Woodrow, has become entangled in yet more controversy following his decision to reject a new children's charity building in Holborn, central London.

The councillor - who is expected to be barred from meetings about Allies and Morrison and Dimitri Porphyrios' plans for the redevelopment of a vast swathe of King's Cross - has come under heavy fire for his handling of the Mecklenburgh Square scheme by Collett and Farmer Architects.

Developer Roger Black, a representative of Coram Family, the children's charity that commissioned the £6.5 million building, has attacked Woodrow for 'going against the advice of the council's solicitor' on the scheme. Faced with a planning committee split over the proposals, Black claims that Woodrow ignored lawyers who told him he should back the project and instead voted to throw it out.

The row is set against proposals, backed by CABE and English Heritage, for a 4,000m 2 headquarters for Coram Family, a highprofile organisation with the ear of national government.

Black also claims that the chairman ignored advice from his planning department over a 1991 site brief that dictated that a Victorian swimming pool - which would be demolished under the Coram Family plans - should be retained. Woodrow chose to take the brief into account despite advice from the planners that it was not valid.

'The site brief was never finalised so has no planning status, ' the planning report states. 'The site is no longer included in the proposals schedule of the adopted UDP. As a consequence, the brief has no weight in the determination of this application.' Speaking after the hearing, Black attacked Woodrow's stance.

'He has served Camden well over many years, but he has been chairman of the planning committee for far too long and he has made the wrong decision, ' he said.

'The fact is that the building will be good for Camden and it will be good for local children. Additionally, the building is essential if the work of Coram Family is to continue, ' Black added.

Black also has the support of Gillian Pugh, Coram Family's chief executive. 'We are in old premises and need the new space. We thought there was a good case for the new building and we were extremely surprised when it was rejected, ' she said.

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