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Camden Council have proposed allowing a mobile refreshment stand in Talacre Gardens.
It’s pretty obvious that what’s driving the council is a need to find new sources of income – this is part of a deal that would see sites rented out across 12 of the borough’s parks and open spaces. However, if litter and noise could be kept under control, and if the outlet were discreet, I can see that some people might like to be able to buy teas, coffees and snacks on their way through the park.
We also need to consider the impact on existing local businesses – both Cafe du Coin and (more recently) The Fields Beneath have loyal local audiences and have worked hard to establish themselves in the community.
I’m interested to know what you think before I respond to the council’s consultation. Please do drop me an email or, alternatively, you can complete the public consultation directly, here.
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 Council has posted it’s winter weather pages once again this Decemeber, to carry all the information local residents will need if predictions of severe weather in the Borough prove to be correct.
If you’re a local community group in Camden you can get prepared by claiming your free snow shovel from the council.
Camden Council have this week announced plans to sell off the much loved community garden on Bassett Street to property developers.
The garden sits on what was once a muddy and neglected patch of grass, fenced off from the street with metal bars. About five years ago, the community came together with a vision to transform the space into something new. We had a long tussle with the council to get them to hand over the keys, followed by fundraising and organising led by local residents – and eventually the Bassett Street community garden was born. The garden has become a special place; a green lung in a densely populated area. People come here to grow food together, keep healthy, enjoy the outdoors and chat to neighbours. The waiting list for a plot or a grow bag is probably as long as Bassett Street itself.
Oblivious to all this, Camden Council have labelled the community garden an “oddity”, and Labour councillors have placed it on a list of “small sites” to be sold to property developers.
We cannot let this happen.
Please help us save the Bassett Street Garden by signing our petition and asking Camden Council to think again.
You can also take part in the official consultation on the plans, 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.
Schools and children’s services look set to be hardest hit by the strike action tomorrow, while many other services in Camden will remain open or partically open.
In Haverstock the notable exceptions are Talacre Sports Centre and Queen’s Crescent Library, which both look likely to remain closed for the day.
I’ve reproduced the council’s full summary below, but it’s worth keeping an eye on Camden’s website for further updates. For more information on the background to the strikes and the government’s most recent offer on pensions, the Guardian has a pretty balanced report, here.
Children, schools and families services
- Schools – most schools in Camden will be closed. Parents will have been informed by their child’s school.
- Integrated early years– parents will have been informed by their Children’s Centres. Most will be closed.
- Family services and social work– we will deal with cases on an emergency priority basis.
- Integrated youth support service–YOS Highbury court and essential services will be open.
- Children, schools and families customer service and complaints– will offer a reduced but open service.
- Welfare, inclusion and support in education– will offer a reduced but open service.
- Children’s social work and QA – an emergency service will operate.
Housing and adult social care services
Most of our housing and adult social care services are expected to remain open or partially open, including some of our frontline adult social care services. We are not expecting any of these services to fully close.
Please see a summary below, which will be updated on Wednesday morning:
- Assessment and care management service (this team assesses people’s social care needs and arranges services accordingly) – will be open.
- Careline telecare (our 24 hour telephone support service for vulnerable people) – will be running
- Temporary accommodation (hostels) – will be open
- Residential care homes – will be open
- Supported living services (support services provided to vulnerable tenants) – will be open
- Housing repairs and improvements – will be partially open. We are rescheduling planned work so that we will be able to respond to emergencies and urgent repairs
- Passenger and accessible transport service – is expected to run as usual but will be assessed on Wednesday.
Culture and environment services
- Libraries– we expect to open Swiss Cottage, Holborn and St Pancras libraries, however activities planned for 30 November will not be taking place. All library activities and services will run as usual from Thursday 1 December 2011.
- Camden transport services – there is likely to be considerable disruption. Demand for services will be assessed on the day.
- Environment services – there may be slight delays but most activities will not be affected.
- Leisure centres – Talacre Sports Centre as well as Cantelowes and Camden Town sports pitches will be closed.
- Registrars will be open for the registration of deaths.
Transition Kentish Town have organised a contemporary art exhibition at their pop-up shop on Fortess Road.
I am a big fan of pop-up shops at the best of times (anything’s better than a big empty space), but this initiative to bring new art onto the High Street seems particularly worthwhile. The Transition movement itself is really interesting: unlike lots of environmental campaigns which take a shock and awe approach, Transition promotes small, positive, local ways to bring about change, while doing good for the community.
The exhibition takes its inspiration from Gillian Tindall’s excellent book, “The Fields Beneath”, which uses Kentish Town as a case study to examine how layers of history and human patterns build up to make places.
I’d say it’s well worth a visit. Take a look at their flyer for more information.
I’ve just come from the licensing hearing for Gilgamesh, in Camden Market, where I spoke on behalf of the local residents who had contacted me. Lots of locals sent in representations but, in the end, the committee decided to approve the extra floor.
We negotiated hard, and the council agreed that:
- Although the venue is increasing in size, it will not be allowed any extra visitor numbers each night. They will have to click customers in and out and keep a log to show to the council and the police;
- Taxis will only be allowed to collect customers from the Morrisons car park, not our residential streets;
- The restaurant will have to conduct an acoustic report to check that noise levels won’t effect residents;
- No customers will be allowed to exit from the Stables Gate opposite Hartland Road;
- The restaurant will employ marshals to ensure that customers leaving at the North exit do not create a disturbance.
In my view, these conditions are a fair compromise and really improve the situation. They allow Gilgamesh to get on with running their business, while taking steps to make sure there isn’t a huge impact on residents.