The heritage of Bloomsbury is protected by the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas
The heritage of Bloomsbury is rich – in both architectural form and social history. Whilst there are multiple layers of protection for our heritage, through listed buildings and designated conservation areas, much of our heritage is at substantial risk of damage and destruction.
The Bloomsbury Conservation Areas were founded in 1968 to protect Bloomsbury and its heritage. They are tasked with monitoring planning applications and commenting on them for alteration or objection, working with Camden’s planning officers.
The task is immense – we receive up to thirty applications in a week.
We also have a further role of educating the public about how and why the heritage of Bloomsbury is important. This website forms a part of that.
Learn about the complex planning system in England, how it applies to Bloomsbury and Camden, and how we and the public have our role to play.
Find out if you live in one of the seven conservation areas covered by the Advisory Committee.
Why are Inappropriate Developments Approved?
Most people will know that there is stringent control on modifications to a conservation area, and especially to a listed building. Anybody who has applied for double glazing will know this. Camden’s planing department are known for being responsible when it comes to small applications.
But then in the midst of this, we see huge and inappropriate buildings dotted throughout Bloomsbury, with applications for further huge and inappropriate buildings being approved.
Why are there different rules for people with money?
Part of the reason is that there is a ‘balancing process’ in considering applications. Some amount of harm can be caused to heritage, if it is considered that the public benefit of a proposal outweighs the harm caused to the heritage.
However the real reason why we see inappropriate development is that Camden have found an efficient way to extract huge sums of money from developers that have the money to spare. Often called ‘legalised bribery’, Camden can accept an inappropriate application but demand a payment in return for it.
Camden can raise millions from a single application in this way.
The larger the development, the larger the payment. Thus we see a huge presumption in favour of large buildings. In fact Camden go so far as to actually encourage developers to build big, at the cost of our communities and heritage.
Camden have managed to raise about £200M over the past five years through this scheme. At least £60M of this has come from the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas.
For comparison, Camden’s budget for this year is about £800M.
Far from being over, Camden plan to raise a further £1B over the next decade through this scheme.
Our heritage has never been under greater threat.
Learn about the program and how it works.
Why accepting payments for applications is legal.
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Our Current Work
The Advisory Committee for the Bloomsbury Conservation Areas meets once a month to discuss and formulate a response to applications in the conservation areas.
We have also been revamping the website to include more educational material.
We are working on a strategy to combat the Community Destruction Program. We will be meeting with senior Camden employees soon, and will soon be running a campaign against the Program.
We are also considering launching a scheme to support historic and family-run businesses in Bloomsbury, by awarding ‘Historic Business’ awards throughout the area.