History of the Charlotte St Association

The Charlotte Street Association was founded in 1970 by a group of people living in or around Charlotte Street who were concerned by the prospect of large-scale redevelopment in the area.

The property development booms of the 60’s and 70’s put tremendous pressure on Fitzrovia. During the 70’s alone, our area saw a 30% increase in office floor space, displacing much of the rented housing and leading to a dramatic fall in the number of permanent residents. 

At the time, the local Councils showed little concern for protecting the buildings in the area or for preserving the scale and mix of uses that identifies Fitzrovia. This lead to more destruction than World War 2. 

The large-scale developments of Centre Point to the south, the Euston Centre to the North and the dominant location of the Post Office (now BT) Tower changed the skyline in this part of London.

In addition, a large number of nondescript uniform office buildings were built, replacing Victorian residential buildings.

An early challenge for the Association was the EMI (Record Company) development on the West side of Tottenham Court Road. 

This was fought long and hard through two public inquiries and the Courts, but the Inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission was overruled by the Secretary of State.

However, over the years we have also had some marvelous successes. In 1985, we persuaded the Greater London Council to compulsory purchase a site and implement the works for what is now our local open space, Crabtree Fields. This lovely small park is now so full of people on a sunny day that you cannot see the grass. We are currently trying to persuade Camden Council to part finance the renewal of the children’s play area in Crabtree Fields.

The character of the area was also changed by the loss of workrooms and light industry workshops, a change accelerated by a relaxation in planning legislation in the ‘80s, when the restriction from changing workshops to offices was removed.

In response to these pressures on the local community, the Association was instrumental in persuading Camden Council to adopt a local plan for Fitzrovia that highlighted these problems and to also introduce policies to deal with them.

All of the issues that the Association lobbies on are influenced by the planning policies adopted by the local authorities, Camden and the City of Westminster. Thus, the Association has sought to influence aspects of policy that have a bearing on Fitzrovia and the people living and working here; for example, by vigorous campaigning, the Association helped secure the setting up of ‘Conservation Areas’, so some rampant large-scale redevelopment was averted.

Throughout this period, the Association has been committed to retaining the character of the locality, the diversity of scale and the mix of uses in Fitzrovia

The Association continues to comment on local planning applications, planning policy documents issued by Camden and Westminster Councils and licensing applications.