|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.