Development Trusts

In the late 1980s, Camden Council proposed  moving the Arlington Road Works Depot and the Jamestown Road Recycling Centre from the south of the canal to  the Goods Yard site.  This was to make room for low-rent housing development in Arlington Road.  By this time house building by local councils was frowned on by the Conservative government. Everything had to be privately built and run.  In this climate of opinion, Development Trusts were invented.

A Development Trust was defined as “A people’s entrepreneurial organization (probably taking the form of a charity owning a trading company) created by the local community to revitalize the surrounding area by rebuilding or renovating the local buildings and so lift the community’s spirit.”  The Grassroots Developers, David Rock.

Similarly, HRH Prince Charles, speaking about Creative Development Trusts, said:-

“Development Trusts represent a third force which will mobilize public, private and voluntary sectors, including business resources, and direct them where most needed in the community.”

In 1990, ‘Camden Town Trust & Six Wards Trading’ was set up by local people, based on the Carol Street Community Centre and Workshops.  The latter had been formed in 1988 to ensure a measure of community control over the future of Camden Town.  It had been involved in several local issues;  the Bowman’s site in Camden High Street, the King’s Cross development scheme, job opportunities for over 50’s, and played a large part in the 1990 Public Enquiry into the future of the Camden Goods Yard site.

The 1988 Housing Act had introduced a new financial regime for Housing Associations which made it more difficult for Housing Associations to provide affordable housing.  As a charity, the Trust would not be under these restrictions.

On this basis, plans were made to develop the four sites shown.

The sites were:-

  1. Suffolk Wharf
  2. Jamestown Rd, Salt Store.
  3. Jamestown Road Depot
  4. Arlington Road & Piano factory site.

In the end none of the schemes worked out as planned. Central government and lack of funds ruled other-wise. The following pages describe what happened in fact.

The plan of the four sites 1

A New Heart for Camden Town
A Development Proposal

In October 1990,  Camden Town Development Trust proposed new plans for the sites south of the canal.  They would create nearly 700 much-needed jobs and house 207 people on Camden’s waiting list by erecting 59 low-rise flats, training workshops, and a crèche. All this was to be subsidized by shops and offices, and a restaurant built alongside the canal.

1.  Suffolk Wharf, which was then the Council’s waste disposal and recycling centre, was to become an area for shopping, eating and canal-related facilities.  The Canalside Walk would be extended to the Suffolk Wharf area. Bewley Wharf, which had long been filled in, was to be re-instated as a public amenity, with a footpath leading from Jamestown Road to the Canalside Walk. Above the shops were to be up to 110,000 sq. ft. of office space on three or four floors, to be let at commercial rents.  These would provide the main source of the Trust’s income and subsidise the social housing.

2. The north end of Arlington Road, with the Locomotive public house at the corner, would become 45,000 square feet of office space, let to small businesses. There would be a new recycling centre and  possibly a meeting hall, or cafe.

3 and 4.  These sites would become community housing, let at affordable rents.

The proposed development of Suffolk Wharf, seen from the towpath opposite

The Development That Never Was

Arlington Road Housing

Arlington Road Offices and Workshops.
Viewed from Jamestown Road.

Proposed Developments for Site 2, in 1990

Ten years later it will become ‘The Glass House’,
Developed by Private Interests


  1. Hampstead and Highgate Property Express, 13 March, 1998.

Camden Goods Yard Development

What Happened to Site 4?