Winter Comes Early to Heritage Lane

The planting around the ‘public’ square at the Ballymore site seems to have gone wrong.

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Plane tree missing…leaves

It is early July, and all three plane trees at the front of West End Square – which some residents feared would not do well – have not done well and all their leaves have dried out and dropped. The recent new planting on the left of the lane at the entrance has also died.

Who is looking after this ‘soft’ landscaping?

Ballymore : ‘West Hampstead Square embodies everything that is to be celebrated about the area, offering a shining example of how regeneration can enhance an existing environment as well as providing new places to live, work and play.’

Space Hub: ‘We design public realm and landscape that is specific and memorable’.

Kingston Landscape Group: ‘From stunning roof top gardens within some of the London’s most admired developments to open space improvements that unite communities, we offer a diverse range of landscaping services across London and the South East.’

If the public using this ‘new public square’ are responsible for it- could someone fit a hosepipe nearby so we can water when necessary?

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planting at entry to lane

 

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Not Farmers and Not a Market

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 tractor logoopportunities 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: planning@camden.gov.uk and quoting 2017/2391/P by Thursday July 6th or
 you can also phone: 0207 974 2506 

 

Once More With Feeling?

South elevation 156 WELaneThe final amendments to the A2 Dominion Development Scheme Planning Application no. 2015/6455/P for the Travis Perkins site @ 156 West End Lane which has been the source of such dismay for residents of the ‘village’ – are posted on Camden Planning’s website NOW.

We expect the comments period deadline to be on or about 7 November 2016

NDF: Neighbourhood Democracy First

Suggestions for  West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum’s Structure and Function

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West Hampstead Gardens & Residents Association (WHGARA) was invited to make suggestions about the NDF constitution at the January NDF/AGM and, at the NDF meeting on 1st March , 2016 briefly introduced the issues below for the attention of the wider Forum members.

  • The Name: There is still confusion regarding the name of this Forum. The lead name is Fortune Green in one context and West Hampstead in another. They are not interchangeable. As the current challenge is to improve the Forum and the Plan relevance and recognition – it is essential that the name be consistent.
  • New Aims and relationships of the Forum: CONGESTION and pressure on BASIC SERVICES are problems in the ‘growth’ area of WH. We suggest that the NDF initiates a direct relationship with statutory providers to influence better provision of supply & call for accurate impact studies. This is essential for realistic Masterplanning.
  • Communication/Consultation: Individual Committee members could take on more specific responsibilities relating directly with community members on particular issues. Effective communication depends on a strong NDF social media profile and the website must be more interactive and dynamic as a tool for community involvement. An a IT advisor/designer should be enlisted to donate help.
  • Politics: The constitution states that the NDF ‘shall not be a party political body’. This political neutrality should be protected from partisan and party affiliations.
  • Membership: NDF Membership should be based on formal consent with the completion of an official registration form and audited yearly.At the recent AGM the constitution was changed to allow group membership. The benefits or rights conferred by this and how groups will  be represented must be defined by members of the Forum collectively.
  • Roles and reporting back: NDF officers and committee members who are invited to private meetings on behalf of the NDF should include outside community representatives, keep accurate notes and report back to general Forum meetings about outcomes.We also suggest introducing a rotating chair arrangement to give committee members shared responsibility for managing general meetings. The role of deputy Chair needs better definition and some specific area of responsibility.Involving Community: To increase community engagement with the NDPlan, small and time-limited volunteer working groups should be supported – bringing greater input from the wider membership.Canvassing members views and providing background information by email before meetings and workshops would allow for informed debate & more considered judgments.
  • Meeting procedures: Before General Agenda items opportunities should be available to table general members issues for the attention of the meeting.The meeting minutes must be accurate, impartial and reasonably complete. Formal requests and motions should be put to the meeting, voted on and recorded in the Minutes.
  • Finance: Requests for Section 106 or CIL funding should be disclosed when applied for and mandated by a general members vote.A detailed explanation of the NDF financial position and more transparent financial reporting system will be required for future (CIL & other) funding

Making Progress

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West Hampstead Gardens and Residents Association (WHGARA) was started in 2011 to oppose a local homeowner who was building inappropriate rear extensions at the back of adjoining houses. It has evolved into a successful  campaigning group which fights to protect West Hampstead during a period of intense change and (over) development.  Its membership covers Hemstal Road, Sherriff Road and the roads between but we also welcome residents from other nearby areas to join as friends. Below is a list of neighbourhood issues which we have been involved in over the past four years.

 

ISSUES [1]: LARGE AND MEDIUM SIZE DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES

  • Ballymore (West End Square)
  • Broadhurst Gardens
  • Iverson Road (former nursery and tyre centres)
  • Liddell Road development
  • London Overground Station
  • 156 West End Lane

Concerns expressed about the impact of developments:

  • Buildings too high and / or too large,
  • Destroying character of the area and setting a precedent for further over-development,
  • Too much residential development without sufficient education, health or transport infrastructure,
  • Insufficient proportion of affordable housing,
  • Loss of affordable business space,
  • Architectural design and landscaping issues,
  • Wholesale destruction of mature trees,

WHGARA’s represents the views of local people whose lives will potentially be affected by these developments, putting forward our concerns to appropriate individuals and organisations with the aim of influencing outcomes.

Actions Taken:

  • Monitoring development proposals as early as possible and obtaining information prior to submission of planning applications
  • Keeping members informed about what’s happening and discussing this at meetings / via email etc
  • Attending public exhibitions and consultations about forthcoming developments,
  • Commenting on and where necessary objecting to proposed developments prior to planning application stage, by writing & speaking to local councillors, other council members, council officials, the local MP, Network Rail, developers and any other involved agencies (Thames Water, TFL, London Overground, etc)
  • Representing members’ views at Development Management Forums and providing feedback to WHGARA membership
  • Development Control Committee – attending meetings or writing & making submissions to them.
  • Studying council planning policy in detail and keeping up with Camden, London Plan and NDF guidelines.
  • Direct action: Tree Vigil demonstration (Ballymore), participating in demonstration against 156 West End Lane
  • Supporting and Liaising with other local groups campaigning against excessive development, e.g. Save Swiss Cottage, Save West Hampstead: Stop the Blocks, NDF
  • Formal responses to planning applications.
  • During construction – representation on Community Construction Group re construction issues – e.g. traffic, noise, pollution.
  • Commenting on revisions to plans while development is ongoing.

ISSUES [2]: GENERAL ISSUES IN WEST HAMPSTEAD AND THE IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURHOOD

  • The tube station – need for development and lift
  • Traffic management and road & pavement safety on West End Lane
  • Parking issues (disabled parking, bike & cycle parking, taxi parking)
  • Shortage of school places
  • Threat of closure to West Hampstead Library
  • Smaller planning applications
  • Excessive and potentially damaging basement development
  • Conversion of part of St James’s Church to Post Office etc
  • Entertainment and alcohol licence applications (Grange Park and St James Church)
  • Future management of Grange Park
  • Noise (e.g. scaffolding alarms) and threat of noise (e.g. Grange Park events)
  • Litter and Dog dirt
  • Fly tipping, rubbish piling up at recycling sites
  • Poor waste management collections & threat of fortnightly bin collections
  • Local car crime, break-ins and antisocial behaviour
  • Evening hot food market on Iverson Road – lack of consultation and poor management.
  • Excessive & ugly advertising – estate agents’ boards and large farmers’ market tree banners
  • Too many estate agents occupying small business premises on West End Lane
  • Pavement clutter (e.g. Christmas trees on sale, advertising boards)
  • The Eruv
  • The Local List (for conservation)
  • Legible London signs
  • CIL Funding priorities

WHGARA aims to represent and support the views of local people who are affected by these issues and campaign to influence them where relevant. As a responsive, informed local group, the council and other bodies often consult WHGARA about issues and forthcoming events.

Actions Taken:

  • Keeping residents, members and friends informed about current and future issues – bringing concerns to meetings for discussion and decisions -by vote -on action.
  • Communicating our views to relevant authorities, council members, council officers, the police, trades people, the church etc
  • Keeping an open dialogue with local councillors, inviting them to meetings
  • Inviting guest speakers – local police, ‘West Hampstead Life’ blogger, Father Andrew, basement development expert, local councillors, council officer (street environment)
  • Responding to formal consultations about council policy, petitions (e.g. about threatened library closure) , planning and licencing applications, spending of CIL money
  • Representation at planning and licensing decision meetings
  • Attending formal meetings about council policy, including Camden’s annual transport policy meetings, Camden Safer Neighbourhood Policy meetings, future of West Hampstead Library meetings, Neighbourhood Development Forum meetings – putting forward members’ views and reporting back to members
  • Influencing the writing of the Neighbourhood Development Plan – commenting on drafts and attending workshops of the NDF
  • Liaising with and sometimes supporting other local groups e.g. WHAT, CRASH, the NDF, Friends of Kilburn Grange Park and other residents’ groups.
  • Direct Action: Cleaned up rubbish at local Green space (Netherwood Street) for proposed public use. Liaised with Camden Green Space, the Green Gym, Camden Council and Cleanup UK. Made proposals to the council on the future of the space.
  • Supporting local small traders in relation to loss of business space

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Meetings about every 3 months & occasional social events. Producing WHGARA blog. Publicity – holding stalls at local festivals – Grange Park and Jester Festival