Camden Town Centre

Regeneration project: Camden Town

Camden Town is getting £2.2m from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund, plus £1m from Camden Council, Camden Town Unlimited and Transport for London, to improve public space and invest in local business. Over 150,000 people a week visit Camden's vibrant markets, shops, restaurants and music venues.

Despite this, the southern end of the high street is relatively rundown and neglected with narrow pavements and empty shops. Funding will improve Cobden Junction, making it more attractive and easier to navigate. It will also extend Camden’s successful Collective scheme, offering businesses retail and office space, and bringing empty shop units into creative use.

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Animating places

Camden Town’s empty spaces are being rejuvenated by the Collective project. The Hub scheme offers free or subsidised work spaces in underused buildings at the southern end of the high street. The Pop-up project refurbishes vacant shops and turns them into flexible spaces that can host exciting events from artists and designers selling their work, to talks and workshops by technology entrepreneurs, architects and sustainability experts. Camden Council is working with Camden Town Unlimited (the local Business Improvement District) to find empty spaces on long-term leases for the Hub, or short-term leases for pop-ups. Both projects are attracting more people and investment to southern Camden.

Hosting events

A non-stop series of events has been taking place in Collective’s pop-up shops and workspace hubs in Camden. Typically each pop-up shop is taken on for a week at a time, during which there are special events and offers to attract visitors. These have ranged from a sewing group run by ‘Sew Over It’, to a workshop exploring mobile phone apps by technologists ‘Hello My Name is Moorbi’. At the two Collective hubs, events focus on advice and training for budding entrepreneurs. These include regular happenings such as ‘Freelancers’ Thursday’, ‘Finance Friday’ and special social networking events.

Public spaces

A new civic space is being created at Cobden Junction, the base of the Camden High Street, which connects Camden Town and central London. The messy and confusing road layout is being simplified, with widened pavements, tree-planting, and specially designed benches improving the pedestrian experience. The work provides a more fitting setting for the Richard Cobden statue and the Prisoner of War memorial, and a place to stop and contemplate. Local businesses will also benefit from rationalised loading facilities and a safer environment. The scheme has been designed by Camden Council’s in-house team and supported by East Architecture Landscape Urban Design.

Building frontages

As part of the Collective ‘Pop-up’ scheme, Camden Council and Camden Town Unlimited are finding shop units towards the southern end of the high street to improve inside and out. Conran Design Group have produced guidelines for a light touch approach using paint and bold vinyl graphics to give shop fronts a fresh makeover. The designs focus on Collective’s brand identity, while keeping the shops neutral enough for different uses. These changes are purposefully simple yet high impact, meaning shops can be easily converted back for leasing to long-term tenants once the programme has finished.

Supporting business

Over 160 businesses have been nurtured already as part of the Collective scheme which turns empty spaces at the southern end of Camden into versatile offices. The first Hub designed by Dexter Moren Associates occupies an old bakery, fitted with moveable walls so that it can become an office, smaller rooms, a studio or an event space. A second Hub is in a previously empty office building, refurbished with an open-plan layout and fast wireless technology. In return for use of the Hub, members give two hours a week to other community projects. The Collective Fellowship programme also supports local young people through career advice, work placements and training – working towards improving their job prospects.

Borough: Camden

Partners/client: LB Camden, TfL, Camden Town Unlimited

Consultants: Conran Design Group, Build Is Everything, Dexter Moren Associates, Capital Enterprise, Latimer Talks

Funding: Mayor of London £2.2m, LB Camden £439,000, TfL £150,000, Camden Town Unlimited £357,000