The February BelSoc Newsletter is online here as a pdf.
NOTE THE DATE: IT’S WEDNESDAY, 11th MAY. Kire Estate Agents, recent-comers to Belsize, believe there are many benefits from meeting neighbours to make friends for adults and children alike. This isn’t always easy so Kire have joined forces with Calici Restaurant in Belsize Village to have monthly get-togethers. This will be on the first Wednesday of each month from 19.30 in Calici’s bar area. Local residents can apply here, to get 20% off drinks and any food ordered on the night.
for the forthcoming Local Council Elections.
Sunday 1st May 2022 at 15.00,
Belsize Synagogue, Belsize Square, NW3 4HX
BelSoc members may submit questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org
The February BelSoc Newsletter is online here as a pdf
Welcome to the February Newsletter of the Belsize Society.
You’ll see, with this Newsletter, the papers for the Annual General Meeting (or you have had the papers emailed). We will be returning to meeting in person at Belsize Square Synagogue, able to talk about the Society and enjoy cakes and tea together. We do look forward to the event.
In this Newsletter, we’re covering the outcome of the 100 Avenue Road appeal, where the Society played an active part. We were very pleased with the outcome, as the inspector rejected the appeal. We also report on the Society work to plant trees in the area, an initiative to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee, and the successful carol concert we held in December. The issue also reviews a recent play at the Hampstead theatre with strong local links.
As we restart events and other Society activities, we are looking for volunteers. Across the Newsletter are some of the opportunities for members to help, whether with the Newsletter itself or on our Committee. You’ll see the annual request for recommendations for Tradesmen You Can Trust. Let us know about the tradesmen that you have used, as that helps us keep the list up-to-date. Also, ,Belsize Library Friends are on the look-out for volunteers.
We were sad to hear of the passing of former Treasurer Jill Tyrell. Current Treasurer Neil Harris remembers her.
The Newsletter describes changes the Council are making to improve cycle paths in Belsize and – as May sees Borough-wide local elections – we highlight the new boundaries that will be used for the elections.
Hope you enjoy the Newsletter.
Essential Living loses appeal to modify planning consent
Tom Symes, our Committee member with joint responsibility for planning, writes:
Members may be aware that the appeal by Essential Living (Swiss Cottage) Limited against Camden’s refusal of its application to modify the consent it obtained in 2016 to build a 24 storey block of 186 flats at 100 Avenue Road by the tube station at Swiss Cottage has been refused.
Essential Living started work in 2017, demolishing the existing building and completing the piling and basement box, but “paused” significant construction works on the site in the summer of 2020. The new application in 2021 had sought to remove the obligation agreed in 2016 to include at least 36 affordable units in the new block, leaving as the only “affordable housing” obligation that 18 of the 186 flats would be available on a “discounted market rent” basis. Essential Living said that due to Covid-19, the increased cost of the main contract plus other mounting costs, and significant delay to the original project timescales, meant that it could no longer afford to include the affordable housing.
Camden had refused the new application because of the loss of affordable housing. Its annual delivery of affordable homes has consistently fallen below the target of 353 homes per year since at least 2012/13. There are several thousand people waiting for affordable housing. Current waiting times for social rented housing range from 2 to 9 years depending on house size. There was little dispute between the main parties that Camden has a significant affordable housing need.
The public inquiry into the appeal was held between 9 and 12 November, and BelSoc was one of the speakers. Essential Living did not provide any evidence about its financial backers or any commitment to build the scheme even if it was successful in the appeal. Camden and Essential Living agreed that under the existing consent the scheme will lose c£70m and removing the affordable housing would reduce the deficit to about £56m. On that basis the Inspector decided that the scheme was still not going to be deliverable and refused the appeal.
Essential Living has spent more than £60m to date. It is not clear what will happen next: there could be court proceedings and further applications. For the moment it is unlikely that there will be further work on the site, which remains surrounded by hoardings. BelSoc will continue to monitor the position.
Neil Harris, Treasurer, writes:
We were saddened to learn that our sometime Treasurer and Independent Examiner of Accounts, Jill Tyrrell, passed away last November. As you may know, Jill was a long-standing BRA committee member, serving as Treasurer for some seven years until I took over in 2013. Thereafter she acted as Independent Examiner of Accounts, continuing in that role after we became a charity in 2018. A charity of our modest annual income (about £5K) is not required under charity law to have its accounts examined at all (£25K is the threshold for this), so I and my Committee colleagues were hugely grateful to Jill for agreeing to do this work each year and performing it with such diligence, and unrewarded to boot (apart from the price of a cup of coffee and a gossip after the examining was completed, which we felt didn’t compromise her independent status. The latter was something she was very properly anxious to preserve).
Jill requested that anyone wishing to make a tribute in her memory might like to make a donation to the Royal Free Charity. BelSoc has recently done this.
Jill’s passing means that the independent examining of accounts role is at present vacant. As explained above, it is not mandatory for BelSoc to have this work undertaken at all, but the Committee feels that having an examiner of this kind has always afforded members an extra assurance that our financial affairs are run as well as they can be. For that reason we are minded to look around to see if anyone might be interested in taking over the function, and our membership seems a good place to start. So please get in touch if you are interested yourself or know of anyone who might be. The Charity Commission website offers detailed advice about what the role entails (including what “independence” means in this context), and we are happy of course to answer questions ourselves.
WANTED: NEW MEMBERS FOR THE FRIENDS OF BELSIZE COMMUNITY LIBRARY COMMITTEE
The Friends of Belsize Community Library was first set up as PLUG (Public Library Users Group) in 1988 to fight Library closures. Since then it has continued to actively fight against efforts to close the library, held regular monthly talks of local, literary and historical interest (more recently on zoom), as well as making a contribution to fund raising activities. In 2016 it campaigned successfully for the building to be listed.
The Friends are seeking new members for the committee who are willing to help organise monthly events and to participate in the other activities of the committee. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact email@example.com, who will pass your details on to the Friends Committee.
Camden has new electoral wards in 2022
Following a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission, the Council wards in Camden have changed. The number of electoral wards in the borough has increased from 18 to 20 while the number of Councillors will increase from 54 to 55. Fifteen wards will be represented by three Councillors and five wards will be represented by two. The changes are intended to make sure that all Councillors represent about the same number of residents.
The first election under the new wards will be the local Council elections on 5 May. In preparation for the changes, the Council has undertaken a review of its polling districts and polling stations within the new wards. The new Belsize ward covers (in broad terms) the area bounded by Finchley Road (west), Eton Avenue (south), Haverstock Hill (east) and the northern part of Netherhall Gardens (north).
For further information on the new ward boundaries, visit: https://news.camden.gov.uk/camden-set-for-new-electoral-wards-in-2022/
BelSoc plans to hold its customary hustings for candidates from major parties to answer questions from residents in the run-up to the May 5 poll.
BelSoc’s unique TRADESMEN YOU CAN TRUST booklet
Yes, it’s that time of year again: the “Happy New Year”s have all been said and many of us will be deciding what we need done to house and garden and who to approach to do the work. And where do many of us look first? Why, to BelSoc’s TYCT booklet!
The form for suggestions, enclosed with this Newsletter, has been redesigned and is hopefully easier to use (comments welcome). If 20% of our members (the usual is nearer 10%) were to contribute new tradesmen this year and comment on how well currently listed tradesmen have worked as well, we could have a bumper harvest of entries by the end of March and maybe the booklet would revert to or even exceed its pre-covid entry numbers and remain as useful as so many of you tell us it is.
Please do your very best to recall all the repairs and renovations you’ve had done during the year and the tradesmen who’ve done them and just use the enclosed form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, to send us their contact details, brief description and any comments you have. We’ll do the rest and send you a unique booklet of local Tradesmen You Can Trust with our May newsletter.
Belsize Carol Singing
The Society’s Christmas Carol Singing was well-attended with over fifty singing along with Matthew Watts at Belsize Terrace. During the 45 minutes, some old favourites were rolled out, many with our youngest singers leading from the front, Also, over £250 was raised for the Marie Curie hospice, a good local cause.
January 2022 will see construction of the trial Haverstock Hill pop up cycle lanes begin. This will provide protected cycle lanes in both directions on Haverstock Hill/ Rosslyn Hill (between the junctions with Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street). Having consulted and made several amendments to the scheme, the changes to be made include:
- Adding 4 new zebra crossings and one new signalised pedestrian crossing.
- Introduce new benches along the Haverstock Hill / Rosslyn Hill corridor.
- Extending the hours of operation of the bus lane to Monday – Sunday 24/7.
- Add shared use bus boarders at bus stops to enable cyclists to remain separated from traffic
- Improving the junctions/traffic lights for those walking and cycling.
- Removing the majority of parking provision on Haverstock Hill/ Rosslyn Hill and relocating some of this provision to adjacent side roads.
- Install more cycle parking to help people switch their journey to the shops by bike.
The scheme will be implemented under an 18-month Experimental Traffic Order, which will enable the improvements to be implemented on a trial basis. This will allow the Council to observe how the proposed changes are operating before carrying out a full public consultation, after twelve months, to decide whether or not the scheme is made permanent. There is also a window to make formal objections to this scheme within the first six months of the scheme’s operation, 27 January 2022 to 27 July 2022. Details on this and the scheme are online: https://safetravelcamden.commonplace.is/proposals/haverstock-hill-pop-up-cycle-lanes.
David Percy’s presentation is available to stream online over the seasonal period, in case you would like to see this excellent presentation again or were unable to go to the recent screening. David has kindly allowed his illustrated production to be available for a limited period, streaming from 20 December to 6 January.
The link online is https://vimeo.com/646936549/4ea43b20ea.
The original screening for this was at the Belsize Library at an event marking the Society’s 50th anniversary. We would also encourage you to make a donation to the community library. The Community Library receives no regular funding from national or local government and relies almost entirely on contributions, large or small, to ensure it continues to be free to use. Please make a one-off donation or become a sponsor to fund this community-driven vision for the future: https://thewinch.org/imagine-a-place-for-everyone