Meet the Neighbour

Ballymore CEO

Ballymore Wins no prize for Community relations in West Hampstead

Congratulations Ballymore, Winner – Property Developer of the Year at the 2016 inaugural Evening Standard Business Awards, & Highly Commended for Placemaking at Property Week awards 4 April 2017 but these awards are obviously not for community relations with the surrounding environment and neighbours. The Founder, Chair & CEO of Ballymore has turned his back on NW6 and seems no longer interested in good relationships with the ‘host’ community for his scheme.

Ballymore’s marketing of 7 brick towers ranging from 5-12 stories describes, “Creating a sense of place reflective of the neighbourhood it inhabits” but the development looming over the centre of  ‘the village’ of West Hampstead has:

  • run 2 years over schedule –testing the patience and fortitude of this community to its limit
  • destroyed a local green ecology resource valued at more than £35,000 as every single tree on the site was felled – to be replaced mostly by roofgardens which no one except the tenants of the blocks will be able to see, let alone enjoy.
  • caused significant ongoing traffic and pedestrian inconvenience as well as disruption of access and services in the centre of ‘our village’.
  • provided a so-called ‘new public square’ which is unfit for purpose, attracts random parking and is smaller than the M&S shop floorspace adjoining  it.
  • in an exercise in corporate self-promotion – imposed an unwanted, branded clock and clock tower awkwardly sited and disliked by the small majority of residents who were canvassed for their opinion .
  • Cranes which were supposed to be removed over Easter – still in place.
  • cancelled, delayed and downgraded Community Consultation Meetings (a condition of Planning permission) over the last 6 months.

Thanks but no thanks Ballymore.

 

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

The Watch Man

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Zia

If He Can’t Fix it, Nobody Can

Mr Ahmed Zia came to England from Afghanistan in 1986. Local residents and commuters have depended on this independent businessman operating out of one of the tiniest but most useful shops in the centre of West Hampstead since 2008. Many local people call him ‘the watch man.” Selling “Sundries” to thousands each year he also repairs small items and watches, mends jewellery, recycles and stocks the essentials we don’t realise are… essential.

He has recently been told to leave by Transport for London, his landlord. They are refusing to renew his lease after March 2016. He cannot plan ahead or order stock because he does not know where he will be. He only hopes they will delay the rebuilding of the Underground and give him more time.

He and his wife are a special part of the community, “Everyone knows us”, said Mrs Zia, his wife. He is ‘clever and talented’ she says, and “our prices are cheap compared to other places”.

From another age and a different culture where things can be fixed, put right and made to work again, can we afford to lose him? He wants to stay. “Why should I retire, I would sit at home and die?” Lets help Mr Zia – he loves West Hampstead, he loves his work. “I want to stay in the area, this is important.”

We can do something. We can find him another small unit nearby at an affordable rent, or ask our councillors to help. If the community does not support him, a small business that kept us all ticking will stop.

Ideas  or suggestions – please write to whgara@gmail.com or direct to Mr Zia himself ziasundries@yahoo.co.uk