Published: 30 September, 2010
by DAN CARRIER
CAROLINE Lucas, the first Green MP in Britain, has waded into a planning row over a project that could bring some of the world’s leading scientists under one roof in Somers Town.
Camden Council’s planning committee are due to consider a project to build a new research laboratory in Brill Place, opposite St Pancras train station, this autumn.
The application, put together by a consortium of University College London, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK, will house 1,500 scientists and the body boasts they will be tackling ailments that kill millions each year.
But at a visit to the site on Thursday, Ms Lucas attacked the lands as wholly unsuitable for the site and warned that the big research bodies behind the scheme should not be allowed to bully people living near by.
She told the New Journal: “It is clearly not the right place for it. It will completely shut out the light for neighbouring homes and also block out light in the area’s only bit of green space.”
She said the council had the moral authority to dismiss the plans as its own planning brief had earmarked the site for housing. She added: “The planning brief says it should be 50 per cent housing – and these plans have none. It could be a really good housing project and a permeable site. It could be something beautiful.”
Ms Lucas also questioned what benefits the plans would have for those living in the area. She said: “Somers Town is an area that suffers badly from overcrowding and poor health and needs to address these issues. The UKMRCI could be built anywhere. It is not clear why they should be here. They could even stay in their current site in Mill Hill – they need to offer much better reasons for wanting to move than they have already.”
A spokeswoman for the UKMRCI say bringing teams under one roof is the only way to tackle serious illnesses. They said: “In the last decade, it has become clear that progress in biomedical science requires scientists from different disciplines in biology to work together.”
A new planning pressure group called Somers Town and St Pancras Planning Action are holding a public meeting on Monday at 7pm at the Somers Town Community Centre, Ossulton Street, to respond to the plans.