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Residents and businesses in Chalk Farm and Steele’s Village are calling on the Mayor of London to extend the Cycle Hire Scheme further North.At the moment, cyclists using the popular scheme can only get as far as Castlehaven Road in Camden Town. While Chalk Farm Station and Haverstock Hill would be popular extensions, the Mayor insists (somewhat bizarrely) that the local “topography” is not suitable for cycling. In other words: it’s too hilly.
South West London will be seeing more and more hire stations over the next few years, but the next time the Mayor has said he will even consider more sites in Camden is 2016. This means that Chalk Farm residents miss out on the opportunity to cycle all the way home and local businesses don’t get the benefit of being on the cycle network.
I raised this issue at the last Full Council meeting, and asked Camden to help residents prepare sites and lobby the Mayor.
Camden Town is known for it’s buzzing music scene and a new street installation, based on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, is set to bring our unique heritage to life.
The project, led by the innovative business group Camden Town Unlimited, could see up to 25 artists honoured by a series of stones set into the pavement along Chalk Farm Road.
While lots of people will love seeing Camden’s cultural contribution recognised in this way, there’s no doubt some residents will shudder at yet another ploy to drag more tourists to Camden Town. Camden Market is already one of the most visited attractions in London – and while that’s great for the local economy and thriving local businesses, there’s no doubt the heavy flow of people can take its toll.
Personally, I think this installation could help. By focussing attention on the main streets, we should hold visitor’s attention and discourage them from heading off into the smaller residential roads where people live.
There will be a drop-in event for local residents and businesses to hear more information and express their own views on Saturday 17th November, from 10am until 2pm, at Castlehaven Community Centre. I first wrote about this idea almost a year ago, so it’s great the project is now at a stage where the community can have their say.
Developers were sent back to the drawing board earlier this year following a massive campaign led by local councillors and residents. After several months of close liaison with the Hawley Wharf Working Group (made up of interested local representatives), developers have come forward with a new, improved scheme which shows far more respect for it’s iconic setting in the heart of Camden Town and alongside the Regent’s Canal.
While the new scheme may not yet be 100% perfect, Cabe are definitely right to describe it as “a marked improvement“. It just goes to show that corporate developers and professional planners in the Town Hall should harness the energy and ideas of local residents more often.
The Olympic torch will begin the final day of its journey around the UK here in Haverstock ward.
The torch will set off from the Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road at 6:45am on 26th July 2012, before making its way down the High Street, past Camden Market, through St. Pancras Gardens and Granary Square and ending it’s trip through Camden at St. Pancras International Station.
For more information, have a look at the Olympic Torch Relay page on Camden Council’s website, here.
Controversial plans for a four storey retail development in the middle of Camden Town were dramatically thrown out by councillors last night.
Local residents were out in force to protest against the proposals, which were also opposed by many local businesses and respected groups including English Heritage and the Design Council. Speaking on behalf of residents at the planning hearing, I highlighted the four storey mall masquerading as a market, the negative impact on the conservation area along the canal, and the concentration of retail spaces which would have created a tourist trap by day and an empty ghetto at night.
There has also been widespread criticism for the failure to provide affordable housing for local people.
It didn’t have to be this way. Local people, through the Hawley Wharf Working Group, have spent years working with the developer trying to shape and improve the proposals. The developer has paid the price for ignoring the wishes of our community.
Now we need to move forward together. We want to see a development that respects the unique heritage of Camden Town; improves the market so it is sustainable in the long term, and offers more affordable housing for local families. A new school would be welcomed, too – but not as a sweetner to an otherwise disastrous development.
Camden Town is an incredible place – which is why we will continue fighting to secure a decent scheme on this huge and critical site.
For the full story, have a look at this week’s coverage in the Camden New Journal.
Tonight the planning committee will make its decision on the proposed Hawley Wharf development in Camden Town, which will affect the character of our area for a generation.
We’re hoping for a strong turnout at the Town Hall to show the committee how strongly local people feel about the plans. If you want to demonstrate your support, please come along to Camden Town Hall, Judd Street at 7pm.
I will be speaking at the committee, and have joined together with councillors in neighbouring Camden Town with Primrose Hill ward to send the following letter to our local papers today:
We represent different political parties, but have come together to urge our colleagues on the planning committee to reject the damaging Hawley Wharf proposals. We don’t oppose development – but we do oppose bad development.
We have spent almost four years working with residents to influence and improve the developer’s plans. Unfortunately, our conclusion is that they just aren’t good enough for our area. And it’s not just local people who say that – both English Heritage and the Design Council have raised objections to the scheme.
Camden Town is a special place with a unique, vibrant atmosphere. The new plans would replace the independent, entrepreneurial spirit of trading in Camden with a four storey shopping mall, designed to attract maximum numbers of tourists and freeze out residents. We need a development with open space the whole community can share; affordable homes for local people, and diverse shops and services that people of all ages want to use. A new school could be a useful addition locally – providing it doesn’t mean there’s no social housing.
Even at this late stage it’s not too late to protect the future of Camden Town – by sending the developer back to the drawing board and asking him to come back with better plans as soon as possible.
Cllr Chris Naylor (Lib Dem), Cllr Pat Callaghan (Labour), Cllr Matt Sanders (Lib Dem)
Update: we won! Scheme thrown out by 7 votes to 5. Camden New Journal has full story here.
Council cuts to the street cleaning service has led to a large number of complaints from residents living off Chalk Farm Road.
Camden Town has the fourth largest night-time economy in the UK. This may be good for local businesses – but the inevitable by-product is unfortunately a whole trail of rubbish and debris down residential streets in the morning. This is worst on Saturday and Sunday mornings, after the local bars and clubs have been at their busiest – and residents often emerge to find discrded take aways, vomit – and worse – on their doorsteps.
It therefore makes no sense that the streets off Chalk Farm Road have been allocated their (now weekly) sweep on a Wednesday – four days later.
While everyone understands that councils have to save money in difficult economic times, they must do everything they can to minimise the impact. Labour-run Camden’s £4m cut to street sweeping (almost 50% of the total £9m budget) is going to be felt even more keenly when it is being applied in such an illogical way.
Streets in the heart of Camden Town need a weekend sweep – not rubbish sitting in the street to ferment until Wednesday.
Those who have been less than complementary about development plans for Camden Market (including English Heritage, the Design Council and many local residents) might be breathing a sigh of relief when they see what was originally being cooked up.
Buried away in an obscure part of the internet are what looks like early plans for the iconic market site… let’s just say it’s not exactly pretty.
And can anyone spot the glaring ommission?*
* The not-so-eagle-eyed will have noticed that much loved Castlehaven Community Centre, not even part of the development site, has been entirely airbrushed out of the drawings above…
Two expert professional groups have revealed they have significant concerns around the Hawley Wharf redevelopment plans as they currently stand.
Design watchdog CABE (the the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, now part of the Design Council) and conservation specialists English Heritage have sent representations to Camden Council setting out how and why they think the developer’s proposals should be changed. CABE’s expert submission echos many of the points that residents have been making:
- Streets and public spaces “lack generosity” and are “too constrained to deal with the numbers of people moving through the area and the density of development proposed”;
- The architecture of the new planned market building is “complex and contrived” – and may not be able to accommodate future uses if a market were no longer viable;
- Replicating the Victorian arches “competes with the exisiting viaduct”;
- The huge office building in the centre of the site is “squeezed” into its position – a smaller footprint would “better define the community square”;
- The appropriateness of a nine storey residential building is questionable.
Meanwhile, English Heritage express similar reservations about the design of the market building, and in particular its impact on the canal front.
Download CABE’s submission on Hawley Wharf (pdf file)
Together with some residents from the Hawley Wharf Working Group, I met with the developer before Christmas and we did secure some small concessions. They will enlarge the community space, and have committed to enter into an agreement to help clear up some of the mess visitors make along the canal and in Castlehaven Gardens, which are constanty strewn with old takeways and drinks cans.
By and large, however, it was clear that the developer has a very different view to residents on how his site can best benefit Camden. Dismissing local views is one thing – but it remains to be seen whether the developer can so easily ignore two highly respected design bodies.
A big thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the last year. I’ve been looking over our stats and am pleased to say we’ve had heaps more people reading this year than last – and using the blog to get in touch or comment on local issues.
We set this blog up to make it easy for residents to see what their local councillors are up to, and to be a community resource for local news and views. Hopefully you’ve found our posts useful – but we’re always keen to hear feedback so do get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to see more/less of, or that we can do better.
Meanwhile, (drum roll please), here’s our top 5 most read stories of 2011:
(2) Camden comes together after riots - there was huge distress and a hunger for updates and information after Chalk Farm Road found itself at the centre of riots in Camden.
(3) More than a Pizza Express – the campaign to save the old North London Polytechnic assembly hall brought together residents from across Kentish Town. We learnt we had been successful just before the Christmas break.
(4) Voting to save Camden’s libraries – Labour’s threats to the borough’s libraries has been a long running political battle this year, with lots of public support for the Liberal Democrat motion to reject closures. Queen’s Crescent Library may have been saved, but not all libraries are yet in the clear.
(5) How Chalk Farm survived the riots – after the immediate shock, lots of people tried to make sense and draw lessons from the riots. I penned a piece for the Spectator website reflecting the experience in Chalk Farm.