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via Garry Knight / Flickr

Camden Lock set to become next victim of urban redevelopment

A billionaire investor has commissioned the building of 170 new homes, only 14 of them affordable

Camden, once the cultural epicentre of London for men in pork pie hats and Libertines jackets, is set to undergo an overhaul at the hands of an Israeli billionaire investor called Teddy Sagi. Hold onto your bootleg band shirts, because Amy Winehouse's old stomping grounds will never look the same again. 

Sagi has bought up Camden Lock Village and commissioned a construction company called Mace to totally redevelop the area. His real estate company, Market Tech, plans to build 170 new homes – only 14 of which count as affordable housing. There are also plans to build market stalls in the Lock and an additional 100,000 square foot of offices.

Market Tech chief executive Charles Butler told the Evening Standard: “Camden Lock Village is a truly unique development and will become a landmark destination.” That's a half-decent party line for a man of the company plotting to completely change the area, but what do people who live there think?

Phoebe Harrison, a 22-year-old bartender who works at the Lock Tavern, spoke to us about the build. She's lived in Camden for four years. "It has always been inevitable," she said. "It’s just another way to make money, to make way for more rich people and push the rest of us out of London. They’re stripping out everything that had character and making way for more schools, shopping centres and tiny two-bedroom houses."

Camden has long lost the cultural currency it once possessed, but there are still plenty of Londoners who are more than concerned about Sagi's redevelopment plans.

"It will have a massive effect on the ambience and atmosphere of Camden and those who live there will notice the difference more than anyone. Camden will essentially lose its vibrancy,” says blogger Alexia Andreadis-Nogueirinha, a regular visitor to Camden Lock. “I personally love the vibes in Camden and the clear freedom of expression through personal style. The people who live and lurk in Camden do so because it's one of the few areas of London that has stayed true to its notorious past."  

Lydia Buckingham, 28, has lived in Camden Town for five years. She still spends every Saturday wandering through Camden's streets. "Camden has so much history, and it’s important to preserve," she said. "The people of London are losing part of their culture and heritage here. At this rate, in 100 years, there will be no blue plaque of where cultural icons once lived or drank, small businesses will be swallowed up by giant chains and there will be no canvas for street artists to work on." 

In a statement, Mace director Simon Underwood rubbished the concerns. "This is the kind of project that we relish working on: delivering a high quality mixed-use scheme that will have a profound and positive impact on the people that live and work in the area," he said.

“This is a great opportunity for Mace to bring residential, construction and community engagement expertise together to deliver a world-class development and the team is eager to be able to bring this know-how to Camden Lock Village."

What do you think about the plans? Is this just another sign that London's lifeblood is draining away, or was Camden dead all along?