Thursday 21 February 2013

West End Lane/Cleve Road roadworks update

Here's the latest news from Camden's Head of Engineering:

My colleague has been monitoring the works by Thames Water at the West End Lane junction with Cleve Road. The leak has been repaired and the reinstatement of the carriageway by Thames Water contractors has just been completed.

Following a two hour curing time on this reinstatement the temporary traffic lights will be removed and the road returned to normal signalling.    

The Cleve Road is expected to be fully operational by 6.30pm this evening.

Monday 18 February 2013

Statement by Emily Frith, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn

Statement from from Emily Frith sent to Hampstead and Kilburn Democrat members this afternoon:

“Dear All

It is with regret that I have to let you know that I am standing down as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn just a few weeks after I had the honour of being selected by Liberal Democrat members in the constituency.

This has come about because I have been offered a job in government in which I will be working to give the Liberal Democrats a stronger voice within the Coalition in key areas where I have expertise. However, as this job is politically restricted I will not be allowed to continue as a parliamentary candidate.

I am very sorry to be leaving the campaign at this stage, as I have enjoyed working with Hampstead and Kilburn's excellent team of campaigners backed by the strong membership I have enjoyed getting to know in recent months.

Hampstead and Kilburn is the most marginal three-way seat in the country, and I am confident that you will be able to attract an excellent new candidate very soon who will work with you on winning campaigns in next year's local elections as well as for the 2015 General Election.

I wish you every success in your future campaigning.

Best wishes

Emily “

Comment by Cllr Keith Moffitt, Leader, Liberal Democrat Group, Camden Council:

"Obviously our members and supporters in Hampstead & Kilburn will be disappointed as Emily had impressed during the selection and was already working hard with local campaigners. But it is a tribute to her standing within the party that she has secured this important role supporting Liberal Democrat Ministers in Government, and we wish her the best in the role.

"We will be looking to advertise for a new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate shortly."

Further update on West End Lane roadworks

I've just had this update from Camden - sounds like good news on the works by the tube station, but less so at the Cleve Road junction:

"My colleague has met with the Thames Water representative and their contractors on site this morning.

The contractors are currently undertaking the reinstatement of the carriageway between Blackburn Road and Iverson Road and it is anticipated that this will be completed later today. They will have a vehicle and driver on site at 5pm and the traffic management will be removed around 6pm. To ensure the integrity of Camden's highways was retained, my colleague insisted on the reinstating of around 300 square metres of additional carriageway to be done by Thames Water's contractors (at their expense) as a result of the burst water main.
 In addition he has checked the traffic management set up and the barriers extend from kerb to kerb and do include some of the footways on both sides, thus prohibiting vehicles from accessing these footways, thereby avoiding overrunning by drivers.

The works at the junction with Cleve Road are currently subjected to 3-way temporary signals and have proven more problematic than first thought. There is a significant void under the carriageway which will need to be addressed prior to any reinstatement and William is meeting Thames again tomorrow morning to discuss the way forward with this. It is likely however that there may be the need to close West End Lane at this point to undertake the necessary works, I will of course update you as to the need for this once the meeting has taken place. Unfortunately the disruption will continue for a further few days, this will be more clearly determined at tomorrow's meeting. Please be assured that we are endeavouring to get Thames to complete the works as soon as possible.

It is clear that there is an underlying problem with the water mains in West End Lane so I will be having further discussions with the senior officers within Thames water to discuss how the current situation can be ameliorated. We cannot tolerate further burst mains on this street as the impact is significant on our highway network. I will advise you of the outcome of these discussions once known.

I will update further as more information becomes clear, however if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Update on West End Lane Roadworks

I've just been getting an update on the roadworks/repairs in West End Lane from Camden's Head of Engineering.

He's told me that Thames Water are hoping to finish the repair and resurfacing work on both the mains burst by West Hampstead tube station and the new one further down West End Lane by Cleve Road by the end of today. But he's waiting for confirmation of that and will let me know when he gets an update.

The background to these mains bursts is that  West End Lane hasn't yet had the benefit of Thames Water's programme of replacing old cast iron Victorian mains, which are prone to bursts. The rash of bursts in West Hamsptead in recent days means we'll get moved up the priority list - which will of course mean more disruption when the Victorian mains replacement work is done here, but it will mean less problems in the long run.

Meanwhile Camden put its own resurfacing work further up West End Lane on hold at the weekend, as otherwise it would have been impossible to turn right into Iverson Road. I'm waiting for an update on when that will start again.

I should also mention for those of you who've asked me about the new super-high kerbs on West End Lane on the stretch opposite the Alice House that when the road surface is relaid there it will be raised, so that the kerbs will then be the normal height again.

Watch this space for further updates!

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Update on West Hampstead Placeshaping Plan

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.

Sunday 10 February 2013

West Hampstead and Fortune Green Area Forum Monday 11th February

On Monday evening (11th February) your local councillors are holding their latest Area Forum.

Here are the details:

Fortune Green & West Hampstead Area Forum

Monday 11th January 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, Flick Rea, Nancy Jirira; John Bryant, Keith Moffitt and Gillian Risso-Gill)
7.30pm - 7.35pm
Welcome, introductions and apologies - Cllr Keith Moffitt (Chair)   

7.35pm -  9.30pm                    

•    Camden’s Flood Risk Management Strategy (a subject of particular relevance to those in the West Hampstead area who have suffered flooding in the past);
•    Policing in our area – Metropolitan Police consultation on closure of police stations
•    West Hampstead Library
•    Neighbourhood Planning Forum update    

Saturday 9 February 2013

65/67 Maygrove Road Planning Application

I was a member of Camden's Development Control Committee that heard this planning application on Thursday 7th February and I raised the following concerns:

-  the cumulative impact of 91 new units on the area and pressure on local services and amenities.

-  the inadequate provision of "affordable housing" - 12 units (18%), though some were much needed 4 bedrooms and wheelchair accessible.  It was argued by Officers and the developer that an independent viability assessment had been undertaken which confirmed that this amount was all that could be offered for the scheme to be viable.

- the loss of employment space - if the current buildings are not fit for purpose as offices and cannot be let, there is no reason  why the site could not include alternative employment space, eg. as a creative hub for small businesses (as proposed in the earlier application for Maiden Lane) and not be solely devoted to housing.

- with the influx of several hundred additional residents to the site, who would have access to local facilities,  the Section 106 monies should be ring-fenced for renovation of the Sidings Community Centre, sports facilities and amenities in the Peace Park, and the overgrown area on Maygrove Road.  The Officers said that any Section 106 monies were not allocated at planning stage but I persisted in ensuring that the Minutes of the meeting would record this is the preference of Ward Councillors and residents

In mitigation of the lack of affordable housing, given the current volatility of the housing market, the Officers proposed an additional viability assessment to be undertaken  prior to commencement of construction within 16 months or at 30 months after completion.  After much discussion and legal advice, the Committee approved the application  subject to a viability assessment  being undertaken at 30 months with additional contributions for off site affordable housing if the viability criteria presented with the application proved to be incorrect.

I was aware that there has been considerable local support for the application due to level of consultation by the developer with the local community and the Section 106 monies offered. However, I was not comfortable with the application overall and abstained from voting.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

They just don't seem to be able to leave West End Lane alone

We've just been notified that Camden are going to be resurfacing part of West End Lane over the next two weekends. It feels like a plot to dig up West End Lane as much as possible and cause maximum disruption!

Here's the letter Camden are sending to local residents about this - the resurfacing will run from Sumatra Road to near Blackburn Road.

West End Lane between Sumatra Road and outside 144 – carriageway resurfacing

I write to inform you that the Council’s contractor VolkerHighways will shortly be carrying out works to the carriageway in West End Lane as part of Camden’s ongoing improvement programme.  These works are scheduled to commence on 9 February 2013 and are expected to be completed by 16 February 2013.  The work will be carried out on weekends between the hours of 8.00 am and 6.00 pm on Saturday and between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm on Sunday.

In order to carry out these works it may be necessary to suspend certain areas of parking, in which case you will need to make alternative parking arrangements.

Notices giving details of dates and times of any parking bay suspensions will be fixed to posts and street lighting columns.  It is essential that you do not park in any areas where parking has been suspended.  Any vehicles left in a prohibited area, or otherwise illegally parked, may be removed by the Council’s enforcement contractor or by the police.  Please check the parking notices on a regular basis as changes to the works programme are sometimes unavoidable, necessitating changes to dates and times of parking bay suspensions.

Any vehicles that are removed will be taken to the Council’s vehicle compound at Regis Road in Kentish Town, from where they may be retrieved on payment of a penalty charge.  The compound may be contacted on 020 7974 4797.  The nearest London Underground station is Kentish Town; buses C2, 134, and 214 stop near the station.  (In some cases vehicles may be moved to an adjoining street; if so, details of the exact location will be given on application to the vehicle compound and on payment of the penalty charge).

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Community Consultation on Kilburn Grange Park

Camden Council has commissioned London Sustainability Exchange (LSx) to work with community groups and local residents to find out how and if they would like to become more actively involved in the future of Kilburn Grange Park.

LSx are holding three "Listening Sessions" in February and are inviting all members of the local community to share their views and opinions on the Park.  The sessions will be:

Wednesday 13th February, 9.00 - 10.30am at Kingsgate Primary School
Wednesday 13th February, 6.30 - 8,00pm at Abbey Community Centre
Thursday 14th February, 1.30 - 3.00pm at Kingsgate Community Centre

A childcare service will be available at the daytime sessions and food will be provided.

The information will be used to inform a master plan for the Park and then then working with the local community to seek external funding.

There will be a £10 for attendance, but places are limited.  To book a place contact Ali Lin at or Tel:  020 7234 9406.  The sessions are open to anybody living or working in the area.