2016 Roundup; Our Year in a Nutshell

12th December 2016

Euston Town BID

Our lobbying around the proposed HS1-2 link in Camden Town sparked a conversation, and led to a scrapping of the original plans which would have destroyed much of Camden Town’s unique business culture and community. Our involvement in this process led organisations such as TfL to suggest that our presence as a BID in Euston would be an asset during the tumultuous times ahead with transportation projects of HS2 and Crossrail 2.

In April this year, after a year of campaigining, meeting and understanding the local business community in Euston, the CTU team successfully set up a second neighbouring BID with 77% voting in favour. We introduced the term ‘Euston Town’, put together a strong board of inspiring local business leaders and drew up the priorities for the area; ‘Big Transport, Big Opportunity’, identity and air quality.

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Since those initial days the Euston Town BID is starting to find its place. We’re lobbying for a full redesign of Euston following HS2 construction, so that Euston Town becomes more than a transport hub and the opportunities around the station can benefit everyone in the area – not just the property investors and developers. We joined Cross River Partnership to have access to government funding to carry out environmental projects. We’re getting involved with plans to redesign, revive and replace green areas of Euston, and brainstorming ways to cushion the effects of the significant construction facing the area. We’re delighted to welcome some fantastic institutions and organisations – such as the Francis Crick and the Wellcome Trust – in to the fold as voluntary members who will further our efforts to extend Euston Town’s influence and relevance. We’re talking to neighbouring bodies such as Urban Partners to find ways to collaborate, put our heads together and implement exciting initiatives. 2017 is going to be a great year for Euston Town.

Camden could get a High Line Pop Up

The Kentish Towner floated the idea of a High Line coming to Camden. They have one in New York, one in Paris – why not London? And if it’s coming to London, we’ll do everything we can to make sure it comes to Camden.

A High Line has the potential to create a beautiful, inspiring public space from disused railway. As it stands, the railway between Camden Town and Kings Cross  is an elevated waste, a mass of infrastructure that the public can’t access.

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Once we understood how popular the idea of a High Line in Camden Town was, we threw all our support behind the project and any potential future works. We’re in the process of developing visualisations, having the initial conversations and drumming up support. If the High Line Popup is pulled off, we will be able to reduce congestion on the high street and offer a healthier route between Kings Cross and Camden Town. It’s all a part of a grander, overarching them… ‘Connectivity’.

It’s a new dawn for the canal…

The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund is a pot of money (£20 million over ten years in fact) available to support new projects helping to improve air quality. We saw an opportunity to revive an underused asset, bring back to life an historical link between Camden Town and Kings Cross and offer a low-exposure walking route.

Regents Canal is intrinsic to the character of Camden Town, and we are restoring it to its former glory. We have some modest ideas to brighten up the towpath with street furniture, increased biodiversity to let nature thrive and extend the beauty of Camley Street Nature Park. We want to see the long stretches under tunnels lit up, activating the canal in a way that doesn’t disturb natural inhabitants. We have bigger ideas, too. Suggestions of how developments can interact with the tow path rather than shutting out the public, major infrastructure changes that will make it safer. This stretch of Regents Canal will be a destination and a route. And that would be how it feeds back in to ‘Connectivity’.img_8142

Internet of things

A three year, EU-funded project that Camden Town Unlimited was selected to take part in came to an end in December 2016. It brought together business, academic and research institutions from around Europe to develop software under a ‘Smarter Working’ theme. The project looked at how collecting and sharing data through the use of things such as fobs or internet connections could contribute to a greater understanding of the functionality of coworking.

We’re delighted to have been a part of a project at the forefront of research in this area, and we hope that the relationships that we’ve forged across Europe will lead to more cutting edge initiatives in the future. We’ve represented Camden Town throughout, and in turn Camden Town represented London, before multiple institutions and organisations. We’re not just talking connectivity with neighbouring towns, but connectivity across the continent.

Connecting the dots

It’s always been on the agenda for CTU. Our purpose is to put Camden Town on the map, welcome in new opportunities and boost the trading environment for our member businesses. One way to do this is to open up our town to the booming development of Kings Cross and the countless opportunities on the horizon for Euston Town.

This year, we’ve taken a lot of time to develop the projects that would let the connectivity concept flourish. It’s given us a clear vision of what we need to do to achieve total permeability, remove any barriers to collaboration and give our business community the chance to shine.

Collective Temperance happened

The charity arm to Camden Town Unlimited entered a new phase in 2016. This may have been a terrifying year for the rest of the planet (!) but Collective has smashed it. Collective renovated a dilapidated hospital building on Hampstead Road, finally putting use to an incredible space that had loomed over Euston with no purpose for too long.

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We’ve occupied many spaces on Camden High Street, filled them with innovative popups, exciting events and forward-thinking courses. But Temperance stands out because it marks a departure from the original Collective model. For the first time, Collective was to be home to startups at all different stages of maturity. Free hot desks fill up the main space, whilst businesses looking for private space took the subsidised offices on the upper floors. The usual perks of Collective remain – legendary socials, a community of people willing to support and looking to collaborate. It’s just with this new model, Collective is a step closer to achieving its ambitions laid out in the C3 proposals. Collective is making money!

If you’re only interested in the hard numbers: 55 offices, 175 businesses and 380 people currently make up Collective Temperance.

We started a series of workshops…

…Such as Project Griffin, a workshop led by an anti-terror officer that looked at the risks posed to the local area, and how employees can help to keep London safe. It was a fantastic success with great feedback – ‘excellent, thought provoking content. We left determined to be more vigilant about the local area.’

And held a round-table discussion

On a very different note, we also welcomed Rachel Reeves MP to Temperance for a round table with Collective members to discuss employment issues. The most prominent matter of the discussion was the need for a recognition of the new models of working – from banks to the government to trade unions. Read Collective’s summary here.

All Hail, the King of Camden

Every year we host the King of Camden awards and are always delighted at the effort businesses make to get involved. We had a fresh venue, new branding and a whole new group of businesses taking part. It was so wonderful to see some old faces and some new, get stuck in to the competition. Big thanks to Hawker, BIRD and Camden Town Brewery for keeping us fed and watered for the evening with some seriously great beer and food.

We left the evening having met some wonderful business owners, full of delicious food, with a new King of Camden for 2017. And a promise to think of a more gender neutral name for next year.

There’s a new member of CTU

And he’s a hawk.

We’re pretty delighted with the redesign of Cobden Junction – not just because it’s the product of years of CTU lobbying, but it looks amazing too. But this wonderful open public space was looking pretty busy with pigeons. So we got a Hawk on board as the 9th member of CTU.

Keep an eye out for this guy:
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First Mile & Meercat

Our friends at First Mile continue to organise free recycling for our business members. The amount of free recycling each business is entitled to is calculated according to their rateable value. First Mile have done a brilliant job of offering a smooth service that helps make Camden Town’s business community an environmentally friendly one.

We’ve drafted in Meercat to engage with our business members and help them to save money through the best procurement arrangements. In just one year, the wonderful people of Meercat identified £82,103 of potential savings and made actual savings £38,518 for our members. That includes a £13,134 saving in merchant’s fees for one business.

HS2 and Euston Station Design

Euston Town’s interest in the redesign of Euston station is obvious, but Camden Town will also be effected. CTU has successfully lobbied for a Northern entrance to the new station, which will be fantastic for the local economy of Camden Town. The ease of travel between Camden, Kings Cross and Euston is paramount to Camden Town’s development as one of London’s growing stars, a centre of innovation and home to a growing community of entrepreneurs.

So, CTU and Euston Town commissioned a proposed design from Euston Town member Jestico + Whiles. The initial drawing presents the idea of a green public space constructed over the top of the new Network Rail station. It allows for the station to be an opportunity for all – for the remaining businesses, for new ventures, visitors, residents and employees. It’s not just a public space but can be used for residential, for permanent and temporary retail spaces and offices. It contributes to our fight to improve air quality not just for the benefit of business but for the benefit of everyone in the area. It provides a smooth connection between Euston Town, Camden Town and all the way up to Primrose Hill.

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Proposing a design enables us to take part in an important conversation that will effect both Camden Town and Euston Town’s business communities. The design is far from decided, but HS2 has the potential to do great things for this area It is imperative that we make our point clear: if you’re not going to build it right – create a station that benefits everyone in the area, that boosts Euston Town’s reputation and brings with it opportunity and development – then don’t build it at all.

What’s to come in 2017

We’ll keep our eye on the long game, as always. All of these projects are ongoing, long-term and take patience and commitment. We hope to see some significant progress with our proposal for the High Line Popup and great changes to the Regents Canal.

Many of our businesses will be facing severe hikes in business rates, which we have always opposed. It will strengthen our resolve to provide services that not only benefit businesses but also soften the blow of increasing outgoings.

Collective Temperance may be looking for a new home in 2017. This temporary nature is the very essence of Collective – always onwards and upwards!

We look forward to seeing more of Sadiq Khan’s work in the new year, as we’ve been very impressed and excited by his commitment to things such as clean air and mitigating the effects of Brexit on London.

And as always, we look forward to engaging with our members and allowing them to give us direction in future projects. If you have comments on what we’ve done in 2016, or suggestions for what we could focus on next year, please get in touch. We always love to hear from you!

That’s a wrap for 2016. It’s been a big one. Here’s to a wonderful 2017!