Following the progress report on the Placeshaping Plan circulated last month, I raised a number of issues that I thought needed attention and here is the response I received from Camden Officers:
1) 187-199 WEL site
Work is beginning on the reserved matters of the planning permission with a view to work commencing on site in late summer 2013 subject to all relevant approvals. The architects are working with Camden Planners regarding the discharge of the planning and pre-commencement S106 conditions. Formal submissions of details are expected to be submitted in the next couple of months.
2) Shops on the site
All the tenants have been given notice by Network Rail to vacate their premises by the end of February 2013. I have been informed that they have all secured alternative premises, though not always in West Hampstead. (but I gather Peppercorns will remain in the area)
Now that there is a dialogue between the developers and the planners, some discussion can now take place on the immediate use of the empty premises, eg. pop-up shops
3) 156 West End Lane
The now empty office accommodation on this site is now surplus to the Council's requirements and will be marketed for sale for redevelopment as part of the Growth plan for West Hampstead.
Meanwhile, Travis Perkins, who have traded on the site for 35 years are in the process of negotiating a new lease which they are legally entitled to do after the previous lease expired in May 2012. Once the negotiations are complete, expected by May 2013, the Council will investigate the potential for a temporary office use on the site, if it is likely that the offices will remain empty for some time.
4) Student Housing in Blackburn Road
The development is due to be completed by June 2013 with around 350 students from universities in London taking up residence from September. Any specific issues arising from the impact of the influx of extra residents will be investigated at the time (ie none are anticipated).
5) Improvements to Billy Fury Way and adjacent land
Discussions are continuing between Network Rail and the student housing developer on improvements to the area and landscaping the area behind the development to create a "pocket park" around the trees. The scope of the work include:
* the removal of the advertising hoarding and all potential advertising prospects at the top of the steps, allowing the installation of a new fence structure.
* (depending on works costs and NR/developer cooperation) new steps and planters to form the triangular area currently not maintained.
* Resurfacing in resin bound gravel of Billy Fury Way along its entire length
* Removal of rubbish and vegetation along the NR trackside behind the chainlink fence. This will improve lighting and visual appeal.
* Clearance and removal of the tree filled area at the Eastern end of BFW to create green space outside the development. NR will grant maintenance rights of the land to the developer in order to improve and maintain it.
* Conjoined private/public CCTV provision still requires further investigation.
6) 41 Blackburn Road site
The site on which Builders Depot currently trades still has "live" planning permission, granted in 2004 and partially implemented in 2009 (pilings installed), to build 8 town houses, flats and warehousing on the site. The site was not included in the latest Site Allocation Document, as it was deemed too small, but would be included in the Interchange Area Framework Plan.
7. Disposal of Dennington site under Community Investment Programme
This site, behind West Hampstead Library, is currently used for garages and parking spaces. Following consultation with local residents, the potential disposal of this site is currently being considered and a report is expected to go to Cabinet in February. (Ward Councillors and local residents submitted objections to disposal for housing and suggested the site might be used for other uses such as Pay & Display Parking or a small business hub)
8. Revitilising Mill Lane
Council Officers are investigating opportunities to work with landlowners and landlords of vacant properties with regards to potential pop up shops. They are also liaising directly with businesses on the street and providing support where possible for any initiatives they raise.
9. Initiatives to Support Start-Up Businesses, particularly creative industries.
In February and March the Council is funding "Alternative Finance" workshops for small businesses struggling to get finance to grow from traditional lenders.
10. Legible London signs
The provision of Legible London signs are part of a TfL and Council wide initiative to improve way finding and encourage people to walk around the area. Given the number of these signs being installed across Camden, we are told it is not possible to consult on the location or content of the map with residents or Councillors.
11. Repaving of Area around Public Lavatories near West End Green
TfL has proposed to replace the red paving on this site with yellow York stone. The Councillors have queried this and have no objection in principle, but think it is an odd thing for TfL to do at their expense.
The West Hampstead Business Association has raised a potential question about the possibility of more wide scale improvements to the area. This could potential require additional funding and raises a number of questions which would require stakeholder and Councillor input. These potential works could be discussed as part of the wider discussion around priorities for future S106 funding.
12. Relocation of the Post Office from West End Lane to St. James Church
The current postmaster wishes to cease to use his premises as a post office. St James Church, corner of Sherriff Road, was the only formal applicant and has secured agreement in principle from the Royal Mail to proceed. Plans are currently being drawn up to provide a completely self contained commercial area at the back of the present church to include a three counter Post Office and additional facilities including a coffee shop, stationery shop and space for other community services, The businesses are being set up as a community social enterprise with profits used to employ part-time pastoral care staff for the community. Planning permission will be required and residents and community groups will be consulted on the proposals. It is anticipated that the relocation is likely to take place in late summer 2013.