Author Archives: BRA Admin

April 2020

Burgh House & Hampstead Museum, New End Square, NW3 1LT

Details from\
All events have been postponed or cancelled, at present until 10th May.

Camden Arts Centre, corner Arkwright & Finchley Roads, NW3 6DG

Details from
The Centre is closed until further notice. Digital channels remain open.

Athanasios Argianas, Hollowed Water: An exhibition presenting new film, sculpture and musical works emerging from his interest in redundant technology.
Until 5th April. Entry free

Family Artist-in-Residence: Emily Stapleton-Jefferis is a London based artist (b. 1992) with a particular focus on clay.
Until 5th April. Entry free.

The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree. This group exhibition investigates the subjectivity and being of plants; their significance to wisdom-traditions, and how we engage with and activate them in culture, counter-culture, art and music.
22nd April until 21st June. Entry free.

Isokon Gallery, Lawn Road, NW3 2XD

Details from
The Isokon is temporarily closed. All planned events have been postponed.

Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, NW3 2RR

Details from  Keats House. All bookings via Eventbrite
Keats House is closed. Updates available at

St Peter’s Church, Belsize Square, NW3 4HJ

Details from St Peter”s Church
Public worship is suspended until further notice.

100 Avenue Road: Summary of Minutes from CWG meeting on Wednesday, 26th February 2020.

1. Recent activity: piling activity completed; excavation of site near farmers’ market finished and progressing to the south, near parkland; most of noisy breaking out 95% complete.
2. Future works: include more foundations and retaining walls, construction of basement box and ground floor slab.
3. Tower crane: some concern recorded about safety of recently installed tower crane, particularly in windy conditions. It was explained that the crane is designed to unlock over certain wind speeds to act like a weather vane rather than a sail!
4. Noise and pollution: readings from dust and sound monitors all below legal limit. Readings on website to be graphical. Discussion about averages versus peaks. Request for measuring pollution levels in relation to base level not possible because planning regulations refer to specific pollutants. Camden representatives also explained the difficulty of measuring additional pollution in such an already polluted area.
5. Vehicle compliance: a question on vehicle compliance to Euro 6, including small vans, was that only two or three sub 7.5 ton vans per day. Camden’s ultra low emission zone will include the site after October 2021, but restrictions do not cover construction machinery.
6. CMP: old version currently being followed; when changed to new version, daily vehicle numbers will increase to 25 over parkland. There was a reminder that movements are to be presented as a graph. Talks with TfL re moving the crane were non-productive as were the CWG’s requests for a TfL representative to attend the meetings. Meanwhile awaiting completion of safety audit from TfL prior to using new CMP, which should be operative around June. However, new CMP is also dependent on payment of bond which is awaiting amendment to parkland licence.
7. Construction Impact Fund: model is that recorded breaches are investigated and the bond is to recover council costs of investigating rather than a fine.
8. Construction contractor: no agreement of commercial terms with MACE. Hopefully new contractor announced within next two meetings and to start June/July.
9. Council contact: S106 manager will not be directly replaced but enforcement officer is still main contact. If residents require specific officer to attend meetings, write in advance to line manager, Brian Macdonald.

PLEASE NOTE: Next CWG meeting will be video conference call on 2nd April at 18.00. Register with Barry Coltrini: <>

HS2 Drop-in event

HS2 had planned a community drop-in event concerning works on Adelaide Road, at Swiss Cottage Library for Thursday, 26th March. Following the most recent government advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19), they have decided to cancel the event. They apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The event material and a Q&A document about their work on the Adelaide Road site will be published from 26th March at
If you have a question about HS2 or the works, please contact the helpdesk on 08081 434 434 or email

Useful Council Links

(Also on ‘Useful Websites’ Page) 

Grants for Home Owners and Private Tenants.
Did you know that Camden’s Warmer Cheaper Greener Programme provides a wide range of grants to help people make their homes more energy efficient? If you are thinking about energy efficient measures, have a look at Camden’s website here

Camden Parking Suspensions
Did you know that you can find out all about parking bay suspensions on Camden’s website? You can book a suspension online as well as searching for current suspensions here. There is also a facility for receiving alerts about future suspensions, for those who do not want to get caught out. 

Camden Weekly Planning Applications, including Trees
All weekly planning applications can be checked on the link which follows, but it could be particularly useful for those wishing to comment on any proposals to fell trees, be they visible from the street or not. Unfortunately, the tree applications are amongst all the building applications so there is often quite a list to trawl through but here’s the link.

Camden Local Planning Alerts
The only notifications we now have of neighbourhood planning applications, are yellow notices on lamp posts. It is however, possible to sign up for email alerts about your local applications from Camden here

WAC Arts and Hampstead Town Hall

Members may recall that over the years Belsize Residents’ Association made a number of donations to the WAC Arts organisation, based in the old Hampstead Town Hall on Haverstock Hill. In 2019 BelSoc continued this with a further donation of £200. For members unaware of the organisation’s work, we thought some account of its history and activities might be welcome, particularly in view of its intention to carry out some building work within the Town Hall. As you may know, the Town Hall is a Grade II listed building. BelSoc now has as one of its charitable objectives to promote high standards of architecture, conservation, planning, design and use of buildings in Belsize Ward, and to promote the protection, development and improvement of features of historic interest in the area. So it will be part of our responsibility to take an interest if significant changes of this kind are planned.
WAC Arts is a charity that has been in existence for forty years and provides access to the performing arts for the young, the disabled and the disadvantaged. It also provides support and services to other charities and organisations to help them promote their own effectiveness, offering professional advice, training, event and conference management and accommodation. It began life in a community hall and then quickly moved to the Inter-Action site in Kentish Town, where access to studios and a large hall afforded opportunities to increase its intake of young people and extend the range of programmes on offer at weekends. Twenty years later and with a full weekend of activity for 5-26 year olds, it found itself to have outgrown the Inter-Action space and in 2000 secured the Old Town Hall, which was about to be turned into a commercial site, as its new home.


Wac Arts

At the start of its 40th birthday year WAC Arts was awarded a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to launch a Connecting Communities Project enabling its young people, building partners and the wider community in Camden to explore the organisation’s abundant participatory artistic heritage. It identifies particularly with the Town Hall’s own occasionally radical history. An illustration of this came in 1959 when David Pitt was chosen a Labour candidate for Hampstead, becoming the first person of African descent to stand for Parliament. After his selection he gave a speech on the steps of the Town Hall which a mob tried to disrupt, the disturbance eventually turning into a riot. He went on to lose the election, but later founded the Campaign against Racial Discrimination and became a member of the House of Lords in 1975.
As custodian of the Town Hall WAC Arts is responsible for the maintenance and management of the building and grounds. In March last year it appointed Ash Sakula architects as partners to help it restore some of the Hall’s original features (including restoration of the “imperial staircase” and carry out a wide-ranging refurbishment to transform what is already a considerable community asset for wider public benefit. One of the proposed changes involves a new large cafe open to all, spilling into the central staircase area and expanding onto the Hall’s terrace space, allowing it to connect with a greater number and range of people, supporting the organisation’s ambition to develop its inter-generational appeal. The intention is that the new spaces will allow year-round, community-led activities helping to reduce isolation and foster social cohesion among people of all ages. WAC Arts also hopes that improving the accessibility of the building will help increase the number of people able to benefit from its programmes, for example young people with special education needs and disabilities.
Costs for the building work are in the region of £3.2 million. More Information on the plans, including  how to donate, can be found at

Bench commemorating Arthur Rackham

Friends of Belsize Library are seeking funds from Belsize ward’s Community Infrastructure Levy allocation for a bench commemorating the life and works of Arthur Rackham.
Born on 19 September 1867, English illustrator Arthur Rackham was recognised as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. Famous for drawing sensitive and scary images of fantastical woodland creatures and enchanted trees, Rackham’s influence continues to this day with Director Guilermo Del Toro and Brian Froud, illustrator for the recent Dark Crystal series on Netflix, citing him as a big inspiration on their own work.
From 1906 Rackham and his family lived in Primrose Hill Studios (near Fitzroy Road) and Chalcot Gardens, spending 15 years in the area. With the recent celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth, Myra Newman, a member of the Friends of Belsize Library and a fan of Rackham’s work, decided to commemorate it with some local community-led activities.
‘’I went to the British library and they weren’t doing anything, so, inspired by his wonderful illustrations, we decided to have a tea party at the Gallery in Chalcot Road and Belsize Community Library with members of Kilburn Older Voices Exchange and a group of young people from Elfrida Rathbone. The Mayor of Camden Richard Cotton even attended as the master of ceremonies, dressed as the Mad Hatter.’’
Following the success of the events and sensing a general lack of recognition for the influential artist’s anniversary, Primrose Hill Neighbour’s Help and the Friends of Belsize Library decided to apply to Camden Council for funding for benches to be placed outside the libraries close to where he lived.
Myra is now working with Martin Grierson & Georgy Metchian of the Art Workers’ Guild, of which Rackham himself was a Master, as well as Graham Wade, a local illustrator and designer working for local charity Queens Crescent Community Association, to raise funds for the erection of a bench. The group is currently looking at finding more sources of potential funding and sponsors for the project.
Wade explained the group’s enthusiasm for the project: “As someone with a keen interest in illustration, I think it would be fantastic to recognise Rackham’s beautiful and influential work while also providing Belsize Library and Primrose Hill Library with a wonderful, practical piece of art that people of all ages can enjoy”.
If you are interested in learning more about the project or would like to suggest potential sources of funding, please email to:

100 Avenue Road CMP: Summary of Minutes from last Construction Working Group meeting, held on Thursday, 16th January at 18.00

1. Piling activity has been completed and piling rig and crane removed from site on 18th January without using Winchester Road. Excavation works for new foundations have started near the farmers’ market.
2. Existing foundations, a one metre thick slab of concrete by the theatre, being broken up with 8 and/or 20 tonne excavators. This would take 4-5 days but be less noisy than the piling. Tower crane to be erected in early February and new piles to be reduced by 400-500mm.
3. Pollution monitor was moved to children’s playground on 19th December. Readings so far, establish a baseline over the Christmas period when there was no working. When asked why only PM10 was being measured, meeting was told this was the only required measure. It was suggested that there should be only one measure of all pollutants, which everyone could understand, but this is a matter for Camden to comment on. Also, that there should be an independent monitor to provide more reassurance, although it was pointed out that the graph lines were far from trigger points, so not currently causing concern. The meeting was informed that Camden has recruited a new air quality enforcement officer who will be dedicated to CMPs. The question of NO2 measurements was raised and it was explained that this is controlled by the standard and use of machinery on site, rather than being measured as such. There was general discussion about relative pollution monitoring and it was pointed out that a screen has been erected to show the monitoring graphs.
4. Vehicle movement charts showed no vehicle movements so it was suggested that this information be omitted as no longer required. However, there was a request to chart vehicle movements within the site and the pit lane.
5. Recorded complaints: slight drip on steps to underground; one unrecorded complaint of raucous noise relating to shaking piling shafts so traffic readings to be replaced with noise readings next time. Request for all old CMPs to be on website with dates annotated.
6. JF Hunt will be working on the basement box until the end of June. Negotiations with the main contractor are continuing before signings the contract.
7. Any other business: The hoarding screen looked good but the anti-climb topping, which needs to be visible, should be painted green. This will be investigated.
Minutes of the meeting on 26th February will be posted as soon as they are available. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 2nd April at 18.00 – 19.30.

BelSoc Deputation to Camden Planning Committee

BelSoc have attended meetings with Camden Council enforcement teams about the approach to be taken to large projects. Large projects could be basement developments or the 100 Avenue Road construction, where there is likely to be significant disruption during the build. We are keen to see the teams able to routinely check on how developers are meeting their Construction Management Plans, and other obligations.
BelSoc Chair Prabhat Vaze with Oliver Froment of CRAAC recently made a deputation to the Council’s Planning Committee about possible ways to improve the situation, especially lessons from other London Boroughs where systematic monitoring is taking place and the funding for this has been met by developers, an innovation which the Council explained they are exploring.

Successful conclusion of the community air quality monitoring study

Thank you to all the Belsize Society members and other volunteers who have helped to bring to a successful conclusion the community air quality monitoring study in Belsize Park / Swiss Cottage. We are now excitedly awaiting the results, hopefully due around the end of March 2020.
Since early January 2019, up to 30 volunteers have been tending the 10 monitoring locations, mostly situated in the area between Finchley Road and Haverstock Hill. Every month the teams organised themselves to take down the test-tubes from high on kerbside lampposts / signposts, post them back to Camden Council for analysis, and replace them with a new set of tubes. Inevitably some passers-by could not restrain themselves from taking a few tubes and there was one explicit act of vandalism to destroy one set of tubes but these instances were thankfully rare. Overall the study managed to collect enough data for all 10 monitoring locations.
The tubes (three at each location) have been measuring the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the main source of which is vehicle exhausts. The 10 locations were agreed during consultations with the volunteers to provide readings from a mix of busy and quieter roads. The study was funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy, initiated and supported by officers at Camden Council, whom we also thank for all their help in setting up and providing back-up administration for the study.
Camden Council is now processing the data and we will be able to see how NO2 levels at the 10 locations have varied over the 12 months. If any locations have levels above the recommended healthy levels then we can ask what actions might be taken to alleviate the NO2 pollution.
Towards the end of March 2020 Camden Council will host a meeting to report back on the results to the volunteers and all interested Belsize Society members and local residents. Details of this event will appear on the Belsize Society website and will be sent out by email to volunteers and members.