London Farmers Markets (LFM) have submitted a planning application for change of use – 2017/2391/P (comments by 6th July) which, although attracting some support, will compromise the neighbourhood economy and harm our limited public realm and green environment.
This is not a cosy, rural collective of farmers driving their tractors to town but a private shareholding company with 22 outdoor markets (none of the others run more often than once a week for several hours) making profits of approx. a million pounds per annum. It sub- contracts stalls to suppliers for a percentage of daily takings, offers no significant local investment, no new local employment opportunities and little meaningful connection or commitment to the host community.
The Design and Access Statement (DAS) proposes an over-ambitious and oppressive arrangement giving LFM exclusive-7 day a week, 12 hours a day (an increase from 4 hours to 80 hours a week) control of a valued central location which is, by custom and practice, a ‘public realm/ space’.
The forecourt area is not and has never been, as the LFM claims, ‘merely a walk through’ or an ‘overspill’ for the station and the original planning documents submitted by Network Rail in 2009 and 2010 included the undertaking to widen the pavement to create an ‘attractive and safe movement route for pedestrians and opening up clear views of the station entrance from West End Lane’.
This objective is still very relevant in terms of amenity, congestion and the management of safety and emergencies with a greater number of people passing through the area. With the new Overground station, potentially 1000 new residents (Ballymore+156) and children transiting by foot up to the new Kingsgate school, this is not a ‘windswept’ or ‘underused’ space as described in the application but an environmental and social asset which provides an outlet for pedestrian and commuter capacity and relief at the pinch points between the three busy stations of West Hampstead. It is the last remaining oasis in a hub of over- development.
There has been no meaningful consultation with the community or detailed information about why and how LFM should be gifted this kind of access, control and monopoly in West Hampstead. Existing, nearby, small to medium independent businesses: fruit/veg shops, bakeries, butchers, cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and takeaways who are already paying very high business rates to locate here and along with any new start-ups, will all face prejudicial competition from such a dominating, full-time, commercial operation. We have canvassed a number of the small businesses on West End Lane near Thameslink (including M&S) and none were aware of the application or welcomed it.
The LFM Design and Access Statement also states that the Market will open at 7:00am – setting up, idling and obstructing the already busy junction at West End Lane /Iverson Road. Residents directly opposite the site and neighbouring the Thameslink station have expressed concerns about existing problems with parking which create a serious loss of amenity as many of the Saturday Market vehicles park in neighbouring roads and do not leave the area. On market Saturdays there is no CPZ for Iverson Road, Maygrove Road, Ariel Road or Loveridge Road. With up to 16 stalls in the 5 weekdays from 8:00 till 20:00, stallholders vehicles will block pedestrians’ routes to and from the station, increase pressure on parking, cause more traffic and nuisance for local residents.
The LFM claim that a 7 day market will be “maintaining customer interest in West End Lane during the week and stopping customers drifting away to out of town shopping centres, which has been so common in many high streets fulfilling the objectives of policy CS7 and the aims of the London Plan (chapter 3D.3)” bears no scrutiny as West Hampstead was never intended to compete with Brent Cross, Westfield and the West End.
Market organisers are exploiting the general goodwill towards the existing one-day only market without explaining that the weekday set-up will have a large ‘food-to-go’ element and make quite different and much more intense demands on the neighbourhood.
Residents living close to the interchange and directly affected by the proposal may want to express their view by contacting:
Camden using this link online: http://planningrecords.camden.gov.uk or John Diver, the planning officer by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org and quoting 2017/2391/P by Thursday July 6th or
you can also phone: 0207 974 2506