Monday, 16 December 2013

Open Evening at Sherriff Centre

All local residents are invited to attend an Opening Evening at the Sherriff Centre at St. James' Church (corner Sherriff Road/West End Lane) on Tuesday 17th December between 4pm-9pm to view the plans for the new Post Office, cafe and retail space.  Light refreshments will be served.  The new facilities should be open in the Spring 2014.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

2nd Anniversary of the West Hampstead Business Association

In November 2011, in response to requests from local businesses and as a business owner herself,  Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill  launched the West Hampstead Business Association with the support of Camden Council. Since then, the WHBA supports the annual West Hampstead Christmas Market on West End Green, established the hugely popular weekly WH Farmers' Market on the Thameslink forecourt and facilitated the future move of the Post Office to the Sherriff Centre in St. James'Church.The WHBA has also been the voice of local business and continues to promote West Hampstead as a good place to do business.

Last Thursday, 28th November, the WHBA hosted a visit by London Mayor, Boris Johnson at The Wet Fish Cafe, where he met local business people and was challenged on various policies that affect business such as parking, traffic, and business rates.  He then visited businesses on West End Lane, including West End Lane Books, Colour Division and Paramount before visiting the Sherriff Centre and discussed the innovative plans to run the first main Post Office and other services in London within a church building.

                  London Mayor Boris Johnson and Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill at the Sherrif Centre

To respond to the planned developments in West Hampstead and changing demographics and potential business opportunities, the WHBA is becoming an online members-only forum.  Discounted membership rates are being offered until 31st December.  For further information contact:
David Matthews - 07956 661987     Reuben Miller - 07957 606886
Andre Millodot - 07771 596077     Jenny Vincent - 07812 606112

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The grit bin returns...

Lymington Road and Crediton Hill residents will be happy to see the new grit bin now in place after a former bin was mysteriously stolen over a year ago. Now we are ready for some snow...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Doris Lessing and West Hampstead - The New Café

Many words will be written over the next few days about Nobel prize-winning and West Hampstead-dwelling Doris Lessing, but I'd like to mention a short story of hers with a very strong West Hampstead connection.

"The New Café" is one of the short stories in the collection "London Observed", published in 1992 - for more on the collection see: It's only five pages long.

The story was set in what was at the time the first of the new wave of cafés in West End Lane. Hard to imagine now, but around 25 years ago the arrival of Dominique's café in West End Lane marked the start of a new era and was greeted with great excitement.

The West End Lane Dominique's, an Iranian family business, closed several years ago and was replaced by J's, which in turn has transmuted into Bella Luna.  But Dominique's lives on not only in Doris Lessing's short story, where the café becomes Stephanie's and the Iranians turn into Greeks, but also in its sister café on South End Green. And of course in the memories of those of us who were living in West Hampstead when "The New Café" was the place to go.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Have you queued for ages to get out of the O2 car park?

I know from personal experience and from residents' complaints that there can be long queues to get out of the O2 car park onto Finchley Road at certain times. So I raised this with Transport for London, who control the traffic lights at the junction. There reply is below.

I'll be interested to know if people think there's been an improvement.

Dear Councillor Moffitt

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the weekend operation of Finchley Road and in particular the exit from the O2 centre car park which gets busy on weekends.

This junction has been known to be problematic on weekends in the past and measures were put in place to allow for additional green time to traffic exiting the car park.  Upon investigation it was found that the timings which had been in place to assist traffic exiting the car park were being hampered by a fault occurring with the vehicle detection on street.  This fault is in the process of being fixed.  In the meantime, new signal timings which increase the green time to the exit from the car park onto Finchley Road have been implemented as of Saturday 9 November.

We will monitor the new timings on street with the hope that this will ease the delay that you have experienced. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review of Camden's key planning policy documents

What is being reviewed and why?Camden  Council is starting to review two of the key planning documents that the Council uses when it makes planning decisions - the Camden Core Strategy and Development Policies.  As a first step we are carrying out initial engagement to gather views from Camden residents and other interested parties.

Much has changed since the Core Strategy and Development Policies were adopted by the Council at the end of 2010, including:
the publication of the Camden Plan;
the introduction of the Council's Community Investment Programme;
the National Planning Policy Framework and revised London Plan (our plans need to be consistent with these);
changes to government policy and funding arrangements for affordable housing;
new planning rules that mean some changes in the use of buildings no longer need planning permission;
the introduction of neighbourhood planning;
an extended period of economic uncertainty and accelerated population growth.

Therefore we now need to review these key planning documents to make sure that Camden continues to have robust and up-to-date planning policies that reflect current circumstances and help to deliver our local priorities.

The review will assess how existing policies are operating and how they can be made more effective.  We believe that the Core Strategy and Development Policies are generally working well and therefore envisage that many current policy approaches will not require significant change (for example, design and heritage).

Initial public engagement
At this stage we are inviting comments on any matter that interested people and organisations think it is important for us to consider when reviewing our key planning policies.   We would particularly like to hear views on the following:

which of our planning policies could be improved and how?
which policies are working well and should be retained?
whether any new polices are needed?
whether any policies or parts of the plan are no longer needed?
what more can our plan do to create the conditions for economic growth and harness the benefits of              that growth for the borough and its residents?
how can our planning policies do more to contribute to reducing inequalities in the borough?
how can our plan contribute further to creating sustainable communities?
how can our policies maximise the delivery of genuinely affordable housing and housing in general?
should we continue our current approach to protecting employment land or should this be amended (and if so how)?
do you think it would be helpful to combine the Core Strategy and Development Policies into a single 'local plan'?

Comments, to be sent to, are due by 20 December 2013.

What happens next?                                
The review of our planning policy documents has to follow a statutory procedure.  Once we have gathered initial views and updated our supporting evidence we will produce a draft 'Local Plan' for consultation and engagement (this is likely to be in summer / autumn 2014).  We will then consult on a further draft of the plan before we submit it for a public examination held by a Planning Inspector.

We will keep interested parties updated on progress with the review through our quarterly planning policy newsletters and web pages.

 If you would like further information please do not hesitate to contact the Strategic Planning team ( or 020 7974 2519).

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Tree Removals Planned in West Hampstead

We have been informed that the Council will be carrying out works to remove certain trees in West Hampstead after a recently carried out an inspection. 

It has become necessary to remove several trees for health and safety reasons.

Below is a list of locations and reasons for removal of the trees.

West Hampstead
 Tree species
 Reason for Removal
Aesculus hippcastanum
Trunk decay
Robinia pseudoacacia
Sorbus intermedia
Basal decay
Tilia europaea
Tilia europaea
Root and butt decay
Betula pendula
Prunus sargentii
Trunk Decay
Sorbus sargentiana

The trees are scheduled for removal during the forthcoming winter by our term tree contractors. A felling notice will be placed on each a minimum of 10 working days before the work is carried out. Where required we will be placing additional information on the trees to inform residents.

The vacant tree pits have been added to the tree planting list.

For further information about the Council’s tree programme (including tree removal and re-planting plans), log on to The above tree will be placed on the website list of trees to be removed once the works order has been issued to the tree contractor.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact -

Robert Butcher 
Arboricultural Officer
Culture and Sport
Culture and Environment
London Borough of Camden

Telephone:   020 7974 1862
Fax:               020 7974 1649

Clean Camden Campaign

This week the Council has launched the Clean Camden campaign, a new initiative to tackle environmental crime across Camden. The campaign will crack down on those people who continue to litter, dump their waste or unwanted items, or not clear up after their dog. The new education and enforcement team will lead operations across the borough to increase the action being taken to tackle these issues.

The Clean Camden campaign also calls on residents to help us crack down on environmental crime by identifying local enviro-crime hotspots or offenders so we can target our work.  Anyone caught committing an offence will be issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice, and flytippers face being prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.

Please encourage local residents to visit or call 020 7974 4444 for more information or to report a problem or offender.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Camden Council preparation for severe weather expected overnight

Camden Council have sent us this summary of actions the Council has taken to prepare for the potential severe weather between Sunday night (27th) and Monday(28th) morning.

·         Engineering Services have been clearing drains and gullies in areas prone to surface water flooding.  This includes having the contractors on standby to respond  Sunday night and Monday.

·         Environment Service have been liaising with Veolia to ensure additional resources are available to clear leaves and debris over the weekend and also Monday afternoon to assist with any subsequent clear-up.

·         Parks and Open Space have briefed the tree surgeon contractors and confirmed they will be on standby in case of any issues.

·         Contact Camden are reviewing their cover for Sunday night in case there is an increase in calls.

·         Building Control have supplemented the duty officer rota for Sunday night and Monday, adding additional officers who will also be able to respond.

·         Emergency Management have made the AD Resilience aware of the situation and have made contact with equivalents in Camden police and Camden fire brigade and forwarded alerts to resilience colleagues in the borough.  Will continue to monitor weather updates and contact key staff as necessary.

·         Economic Development have facilitated messages to key contractors working on independent building sites on the borough to make sure they are aware and taking necessary actions.

·         Housing Repairs and Improvements are asking all scaffolding contractors to make sure all building sites are locked down to prevent flying debris.

·         Adult Social Care have facilitated contact with all service providers to raise awareness and ensure they are prepared.

·         Communications issued a joint  message (with HR) on Essentials yesterday and the Duty press officer is on standby to provide internal and external comms assistance over the weekend.

·         Schools, fortunately the schools are closed for the Half Term holidays.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Christmas Festivities on West End Green

Saturday 30th November     West Hampstead Christmas Market,   10am-4pm
                                            sponsored by the West Hampstead Business Association.
                                            Stalls will include local artists, crafts, festive food, jewelry
                                            and cards.
                                            Activities will include African drumming, carol singing, arts
                                            and crafts and dancing for families and children.

6, 7, 8th December              Cabbages & Frocks Festive Marketplace - to 4pm each day
                                            Stalls will include festive fayre, vintage arts and crafts and
                                            some food

Saturday, 12 October 2013

No to shelter at northbound bus stop by Thameslink Station on West End Lane

Various residents have asked me why there isn't a shelter at the very heavily used bus stop next to the West Hampstead Thameslink station on West End Lane, next to the Black Path entrance. I've been caught there in the pouring rain myself a few times, and even the old phone box that provided refuge in a storm disappeared some time ago.

So I asked Camden if a shelter could be installed there. Sadly, it turns out there is a very good reason why the answer is "no". The stop is on a bridge, which means there is insufficient depth to accommodate the electrics and so on for a shelter. In fact, it's the same reason this stretch doesn't have proper paving, but instead an "imprint" surface which mimics the look of paving slabs.

A disappointing response but at least the reason for it is clear.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Consultation on the proposed expansion of Kingsgate School and redevelopment of Liddle Road site.

As West Hampstead Ward Councillors we fully support the need for a new primary school in the area.

At present there is a Public Consultation about the proposed expansion of Kingsgate School and the redevelopment of the Liddell Road site ( with a closing date of Tuesday 15th October 2013.

The need for additional school places in the area should be a high priority.  Under the present Government policy, any new school would have to be a Free school or Academy and two new Free schools have been opened in other parts of Camden during the past year, funded by the Government.  Unfortunately, the current Labour Administration,  is  ideologically opposed to the option (even though academies were introduced by the last Labour Government) and so have not addressed the escalating school place shortage problem in the North West of the Borough  and only now promoting the expansion of an existing school that is funded by building private homes for sale.  The new places will not be available untill 2016 at the earliest.

As Ward Councillors we continue to campaign for extra school places but we believe that the approach being consulted on is flawed for the following reasons:

1)  There can be no educational case made to have a school based on two sites, a mile apart with railway lines in between with no direct access route between the two.  Separating Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils would require additional resources and effort from staff to promote a single school ethos as well as providing a lack of continuity to the children.  Schools operating from two sites should be in close proximity to each other and so, in reality, Kingsgate would have to operate as two separate schools.

2)  A 4-form intake at one school could prove problematic in meeting future demographic and educational needs.  Whilst 4 forms could be accommodated in a new building, Kingsgate is currently in an old Victorian building that may not be suitable for the modern  teaching methods for a 4-form older year group entry.

3)  The increase of 412 additional pupils on the new site will add to traffic and pedestrian congestion on West End Lane, Kilburn High and surrounding streets during peak morning rush hours and in the afternoons with families travelling to, between and from the two sites.  Access between the two locations would be particularly problematic to parents with children attending each site, even if start and finishing times are staggered and would be unduly tiring for young siblings.

4)  The new proposed catchment area equidistant between the  two sites will mean that some children in Kilburn Ward, who make up much of the current Kingsgate intake, will  have less change of attending Kingsgate School than they do now and therefore would be disadvantaged.  Those children who failed to get a place this year would be even worse off.

5)  In order to finance the new school under the proposed plan it will be necessary to build 120-160 new homes for sale (equivalent to 60-80% of the West Hampstead Square development) but are unlikely to include adequate social or "affordable" housing for local residents.  In addition, the influx of around 300 additional residents in an area already subject to intense development will have a cumulative impact on local services such as transport, traffic, parking, health services, parks and playgrounds as well as school places.

6)   The 33 profitable businesses currently on site which provide employment and services to local residents will be displaced which will have an effect on the local economy.  Although a small amount of new employment is included in the new development, it will not replace what is being displaced.

What West Hampstead needs is a new 2-form entry secular school that would address the needs of West Hampstead children and not deprive children in neighbouring wards of school places.  If an application had been made to build a Free School or academy the funding would have come from Central Government and so there would be no need for Camden Council to raise money through building more homes for sale.  We take a pragmatic view of accessing the funding that is available through Central Government, rather than putting personal political ideologies before the needs of local children.  Kingsgate is an Outstanding school and its success and education provision to local children should not be compromised by political expediency.

We would be very interested in having receiving further thoughts and feedback from local residents on this issue and the consultation process.

Further information on the Council's proposal can be found at  Comments on the consultation can be emailed to by Tuesday 15th October, 201

Friday, 16 August 2013

Thames Water Sewer Works in West End Lane

We've been chasing Thames Water and Camden to find out when we can expect the sewer repair works in West End Lane to finish.  The works mean we have a temporary one-way system and have only not caused greater disruption because it's the summer holiday period and traffic is lighter than usual.

Here is the latest from Thames Water and Camden - we haven't tried to translate it into English but the good news is that the estimated completion date is now next Wednesday, 21 August.

Thames Water have come across some major difficulties with reparing this collapse sewer, and it now seems that they have found the defective pipe and works can now be completed by the date given below.

Many thanks to Jack Holroyde at Cycle Surgery for the photo.

Here's the combined message from Thames Water and Camden:

Just to confirm:

•    We have located the defective pipe.
•    CCTV and Jeter on site to confirm if any further works required.
•    If no further works required damaged section to be replaced today
•    Heading will be packed by End of Play Saturday
•    Shaft backfilled by Monday
•    Road concreted Tuesday with Rapid hardener
•    Road Reinstated by Wednesday evening and site cleared.

The lateral connection has had to be completely replaced and it was initially hoped that it would only require a section repair however it transpires that a full length replace is needed. The revised estimated completion date is now 21 August 2013.

We do appreciate that these works are causing a level of disruption however we will continue to work with Thames Water in order to get the highway back to full use as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Residents Able to Pay for Council Services at Post Offices

From 5th August, 2013, Camden residents will be able to pay for Council Services at their local Post office. Services that can be paid for at the Post Office include:

Council Tax, Housing Rents, Business Rates, Leaseholder Services, Housing Services, Commercial Rents, Sundry Invoices, Commercial Waste, Nursery Fees, Street Trading and Licensing, Allotments and Building Control. 

Services can be paid for by Cash, Cheque or Debit Card free of charge.  Residents can also pay by Cash at any shop displaying the PayPal sign.

Post Offices where these services are available include West Hampstead on West End Lane, Swiss Cottage on Finchley Road and on Mill Lane all of which are open on weekdays and Saturday morning.

Council Services can also be paid for on line at, by phone on 0207 974 6104 and by Direct Debit.

From the Autumn 2013, the Cash Office at the Town Hall in Judd Street will close.

Posters and leaflets on these new services will be available in Libraries and Post Offices across the Borough.

PS:  It was announced last week that approval was given for the West Hampstead Post Office to relocate to St. James Church on Sherriff Road in Spring 2014


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Fortune Green and West Hampstead Area Forum meeting 2 July

On Tuesday evening (2nd July) your local councillors are holding their latest Area Forum.

Here are the details:

Fortune Green & West Hampstead Area Forum

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 7.00pm - 9.30pm

Hampstead Synagogue Hall, 1 Dennington Park Road, NW6 1AX

7.00pm - 7.30pm                                            

Opportunity to meet Fortune Green and West Hampstead ward councillors over tea and coffee

(Russell Eagling, Nancy Jirira; Keith Moffitt and Gillian Risso-Gill - Cllrs Flick Rea and John Bryant are unfortunately unable to attend tonight)

7.30pm - 7.35pm

Welcome, introductions and apologies - Cllr Keith Moffitt (Chair)  

7.35pm -  9.30pm
  • Thames Water provision and maintenance in the local area (a subject of particular relevance to those in the West Hampstead area who have had water shortages and a burst water main recently);
  • Potential S106 funds for community development project discussion
  • Neighbourhood Planning Forum update

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Section 106 and a new post office for West Hampstead

Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill
To gain planning permission, writes Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill, developers are often required to provide additional monies for amenities that will benefit local communities in the form of Section 106 obligations.  The developer of the new student development nearing completion in Blackburn Road has contributed £500,000 to Camden for various amenities including pathways, health services and community amenities.

Your Councillors have campaigned to ensure that the monies are spent in the local area and not siphoned off to other parts of Camden.   Despite having two public meetings, it is still unclear how Section 106 monies are allocated and who makes the decisions.  We have argued that decisions should be made by local communities through their local Councillors.  However, we are pleased that Camden Council has agreed to provide £50,000 towards the relocation of the new Post Office as part of the community amenities allocation.  How the remainder of the monies will be spent is still uncertain but we shall continue to campaign for greater transparency in allocating these monies.

In 2014 Community Infrastructure Levies (CILs) will be introduced to some extent replacing Section 106 obligations unless they are directly integral to the development.  After that time developers will be charged a CIL at a set rate per square metre according to the development which will finance local infrastructure projects such as schools, transport, roads, parks, etc.  These CILs may be spent anywhere in Camden and not necessarily in the area where the development is built.  Given that West Hampstead is a Growth Area we shall be monitoring the amount of CILs coming forward to ensure new infrastructure investment takes place in our area.

West Hampstead Post Office

The West Hampstead Post Office on West End Lane will close later this year as the Postmaster is unable to continue due to ill health.  The Post Office cannot close until a new premises is secured and the only location that has come forward is St. James Church on the corner of Sherriff Road, 200 yards from the current site.
Fr Andrew Cain has proposed to run a post office  in the rear of the church building.

The post office will be run by a charitable trust, with other facilities including a café, stationery store and other amenities as a social enterprise, the profits from which will provide finance to employ three part time community workers for families, youth and elderly residents.  These commercial activities will be separated from the areas for worship in the church which will remain .  At the time of writing, the Post Office is reviewing the Business Plan and, if approved, planning permission will be sought, building work commissioned  with a view to the new Post Office being operational before the Christmas period in 2013.

Fr Andrew has secured over £200,000 in finance for the scheme, including £50,000 from Camden Council and over £85,000 from St. James Church as its contribution to the community to celebrate its 125 year anniversary.

Wets Hampstead

Flooding in Lymington Road 10 years ago
The West Hampstead area has been plagued by water problems over the last few months, with burst mains in West End Lane and nearby Cricklewood causing disruption to traffic and loss of supply to many of our homes. We think it’s time our area got the benefit of the Victorian water mains replacement programme, and we’ve invited representatives from Thames Water to come to our next Area Forum, provisionally scheduled for 2nd July – but watch this space. You can come along and have your say.

This will follow on from the last Area Forum when we discussed flooding problems and lots of criticism was levelled at Camden Council for not keeping the gullies clear. We asked the Council recently about the programme of gully cleansing. Camden responded to say they do clear the gullies regularly, but went on:

 “however if a gully is covered by a car they leave it alone. This can mean that certain gullies can be left unmaintained for a number of years. For example the maintenance team went to clear the gullies of Cannon Hill in July 2012 but were only able to clear 3 of the 10 gullies. They have now, since the meeting, suspended parking on the street so that they can clean all the gullies. Other roads mentioned were Lymington Road (which had all its gullies cleaned on 16th January 2013) and Holmdale Road which had 5 of its 7 gullies cleaned on 23rd October 2012". 

We’ve also asked Camden about the effect of new developments on the drainage system in our area. They’ve told us they scrutinise all major planning applications, especially if they are within a flood risk area, but we’re not convinced that Camden are thinking enough about the cumulative impact of the many new buildings going up in our area. If you’ve got any specific concerns about flooding, you can contact Camden officer Nick Humfrey on