Monday 21 January 2013

Ward Councillors object to proposed land sale behind West Hampstead Library

Camden Council is proposing to sell the plot of land behind  behind West Hampstead Library or housing (along with other small sites in the borough) to help to fund its Community Investment Programme.  Local residents were consulted late last year, and although 77% of respondents objected to the proposal, it is planned to be presented for approval to Cabinet in February. Ward Councillors were asked for our comments last week and , having reviewed the objections and spoken to local residents, we have submitted the following concerns :

1) Cumulative Impact
This site is not included in the Site Allocation Document, the Placeshaping Plan nor is it part of the Growth Plan for West Hampstead and we are concerned about the further cumulative impact of such additional sites coming forward for development without a coherent plan for the area.

In June 2012, a nearby site on Iverson Road, which was also not in any local development plan, was bought by a speculative developer and planning permission granted for 36 new dwellings on a very small site that had previously been a garden centre.

We are concerned that the continued encroachment of residential development on infill sites will have an adverse impact on local services such as schools, health services, traffic, parking and transport, which are all already under stress.

2) Parking
The streets around the site suffer from extreme parking stress. The loss of secure parking on the site is causing real concern for the people who rent either garages or parking spaces, some of whom are elderly, work shift work for which a car is a necessity, or are local businesses. No indication has yet been offered of where alternative parking spaces might be provided

We are surprised that some of the spaces are currently not let, and question whether this is because they have not been marketed, or that the Council has stopped letting them in view of this proposed development, which is influencing this decision.

Furthermore the restrictions on parking on West End Lane and neighbouring streets has led to a significant downturn in trade for local shops due to the loss of business from customers from outside the area who no longer come because of the difficulty in parking. This has led to the closure of some businesses, a decline in daytime footfall deterring other retail businesses and a growth in cafes or restaurants serving a nighttime economy when parking restrictions are relaxed. The removal of 28 parking spaces is likely to exacerbate an already stressed situation.

It is naïve to believe that people will be discouraged from driving cars in London by restricting parking spaces. Many people and businesses rely on cars and other vehicles for personal mobility, employment and trade.

If anything, could the site be used to increase the number of off street parking spaces, or make it a Pay & Display public car park for visitors (of which there are none in the area) that would generate more income for the Council and boost local trade?

3) Housing
We question the suitability and viability of such a small and restricted site for additional housing and whether it would be attractive to any buyer. The site is bordered on two sides by Council flats in Dennington House and the surrounding streets are narrow with a high density of residents in multi-occupancy dwellings. The proposed mews development of an additional four flats would be detrimental to the quality of life and well being of residents living adjacent to or nearby and place additional burden on local amenities such as schools, health services and obviously parking, which are already under strain. Taking the surrounding area into account, we doubt that any new development would be permissible on planning grounds as it may have a cumulative effect in exceeding the London Plan upper density limits of 700 persons per hectare. The quality of the proposed new housing for any occupants is also questionable, being surrounded on three sides with obvious limitations on light, open space and privacy.

If housing were permitted, the only development we would support would be if the land were sold to a housing association for social housing. We would oppose the sale to speculative property developers for market units that could be sold to private landlords, thus contributing to the transient movement of population and stability of West Hampstead.

4) Alternative Uses for the Site
If the sale of the site was to proceed, we would favour the site to be used for small scale B1 commercial units for creative or technology businesses that would support the local economy and provide employment. There is a severe lack of small scale light industrial or office accommodation in the area.

Dynham Road
Although geographically outside our Ward, the impact of the sale of this site will adversely the residents of our Ward in Hemstal Road – who have already registered their objections - more than those in Kilburn Ward. We support their concerns regarding access to their properties and open space and light and have the same concerns about developing this site as those outlined in 1) and 3) above.


Wednesday 9 January 2013

Fraud Alert - Courier Scams

We have received reports that at least two elderly women in West Hampstead have been victims of attempted fraud during the Christmas period.

The Metropolitan Police Service has reissued its warning regarding “Courier Scams” that explains what happened, see below.  This is a fraud that is mainly targeting the elderly and vulnerable in our communities. These scams are becoming increasingly prevalent across London and beyond.


1. Elderly members of the public have been receiving unsolicited telephone calls from fraudsters purporting to be from the police or their bank.

2. A fraudster will ring a member of the public, claiming to be from their bank's security or the police, stating that their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on their card or that their card is due to expire and needs to be replaced.

3. The person may be asked to ring the bank back using the phone number printed on the back of their bank card. This helps to convince the person that the call is genuine.

4. However, the fraudster has kept the telephone line open so even though the person has called the bank, the call does not go through. Instead they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.

5. The fraudster then gains the person’s trust by pretending to be from the bank and seeming to offer assistance. In many cases the person is asked to provide their full bank card details and key in their PIN so that their existing card can be “cancelled” and their new one "activated" or "authorised." The fraudster will then explain that the bank will need to collect the card.

6. The fraudster will then attend the person’s address or send an innocent courier company driver to collect the card and sometimes provide them with a “replacement” card which is subsequently found to be fake.

7. Therefore, the fraudster has obtained the person’s name, address, full bank details, the card itself and the PIN. The bank cards are then used fraudulently without the victim’s knowledge.


a. Fraudsters pretending to be from the police cold calling members of the public claiming to be from the Economic Crime Department and that the person’s bank account has been compromised by criminals. The fraudster suggests that the person should transfer their bank balance into a “safe” police account.

b. Fraudsters pretending to be from the police attending people’s addresses and retrieving the person’s card and PIN.

c. Members of the public receiving letters on bank headed paper informing them that their account has been the subject of a fraud. The letter advises them to transfer their funds to a “safe” account and that an official will be in contact to provide them with a new card and PIN.

d. Fraudsters contacting members of the public requesting them to cut their cards in half because their account has been compromised. They are then asked to post the cut card to an address where fraudsters simply tape the card together again and can use the details to commit fraud.

Prevention Advice

If you receive such a call end it immediately.

Please be aware of the following:

 Your bank will never attend your home

 Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card

 Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN

Reporting Advice

In an emergency dial 999.

In a non-emergency, report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at or contact your local police by dialling 101 and report the matter to your bank.