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 cafĂ©, 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

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Camden Transport Liaison Public Meeting - 25th June, 7-9pm, Swiss Cottage Library

Each year, Camden Council holds a public meeting to discuss local transport issues in the borough. The meeting is attended by our partners at Transport for London (TfL) and local public transport providers (such as bus and rail operates), and it is an opportunity to discuss directly with them issues that relate to their operations.

The types of issues discussed include (but are not limited to), buses, tube, overground rail, cycle hire, traffic signals etc. This year the meeting will be held on June 25 from 7pm to 9:00pm in the Swiss Cottage Library, 88 Avenue Rd, NW3 3HA.

The meeting will be chaired by Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Sustainability.  The keynote speaker will be Professor John Parkin, who is a Professor of Transport at the South Bank University, specialising in transport engineering and planning, with a particular interest in cycling.

Representatives from the TfL family (including London Underground, London Overground and London Buses), local public transport operators and Camden Council transport planners will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

If you would like come to the meeting and raise an issue for discussion please contact with your agenda item by Friday June 7, 2013.

 Items for discussion need to be raised prior to the meeting. If a large number of requests are received there may not be time to include all items on the agenda, although all are welcome to attend the meeting. A final agenda will be sent to those requesting an agenda item.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Repairs in West End Lane – good news?

Pedestrians on West End Lane risking a drenching
The good news with a question mark is because it’s good news when problems in West End Lane are being sorted out, but of course a certain amount of disruption nearly always comes with it.

In all the recent rainy weather it became apparent that the resurfacing of West End Lane on the Thameslink bridge wasn’t all it might be, with some “ponding” that could mean pedestrians getting soaked by passing traffic. I reported this to Camden and they’ve told me that works to put this right should be taking place on Sunday 9 June.

Meanwhile, I wrote here a couple of months ago about the new super-high kerbs on West End Lane on the stretch opposite the Alice House, reporting that when the road surface was relaid there it would be raised, so that the kerbs would be back to the normal height again.

This work has been held up by the scaffolding outside Barclays Bank at the junction with Fawley Road. I’ve been told that the scaffolding will be coming down any time now, and Camden are arranging for their contractor to start on the remaining footway work on 26 June, with completion scheduled for 5 July.

Once these footway works have been completed Camden will be arranging for the road surface to be relaid on the southbound lane from 246 West End Lane (Oxfam) to Barclays, when we should be saying goodbye to those high kerbs.  Camden expect the work to be finished by 12 July 2013. It should take a couple of days, depending on the weather of course.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Flick for Mayor!

This Wednesday Camden's Council will be voting on who to appoint as Camden's Mayor for the next municipal year, and Camden's Liberal Democrat councillors will be nominating Flick Rea for this position.
Many West Hampstead residents have told me what a great mayor they think Flick Rea would make and for anyone who hasn't seen it I wanted to share with you this letter recently published in the Ham & High and Camden New Journal from my friend David Abrahams.
Cllr Flick Rea
Dear Editor
I was very disappointed to read that Camden Labour are seeking to prevent Cllr Flick Rea from becoming Mayor of Camden after 27 years of tireless service to the people of Camden. Flick is admired and respected across the Borough by people of all political affiliations and none. She would make an absolutely first-class Mayor for Camden.

One of the very sensible reforms brought in by the Lib Dem/Conservative Partnership Administration in 2006-10 was the decision to 'share the mayoralty' amongst all the political parties in Camden. This meant that a Labour councillor, Nurul Islam, was elected Mayor for 2008-09 even though Labour was in opposition at the time. Nurul was a very popular and successful Mayor, who was elected unanimously and enjoyed the full support of all parties during his term of office.

It was a great shame that Labour abandoned this sensible and popular reform as soon as they got back into power in 2010. Their argument that some terrible political calamity will overtake Camden if there is an opposition Mayor doesn't remotely stand up to scrutiny. The Mayoralty is primarily a ceremonial and representative role. As all successful Mayors know, the role is not about party politics. Sadly Labour's approach seems to betray the kind of petty tribalism that some politicians love, but most members of the public can't stand. Surely Camden deserves better than that.
David Abrahams
Chair, North West Camden Liberal Democrats