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31 Daleham Gardens: A new lease of life 16/5/2021

In September 2020, Camden’s Cabinet approved a regeneration strategy for property in Daleham Gardens, identifying the preferred option as being redevelopment through disposal to a local Community Land Trust (CLT). The approved strategy recognised that a locally-based, community-led developer, such as a CLT, with a strong local knowledge and community roots, non-profit status and focus on high quality affordable homes could be well-placed to deliver affordable housing on this site.

Following an Expression of Interest Process in early 2021, which sought submissions from community groups interested in the site, NW3 CLT were identified as Camden’s preferred submission, and Camden have now begun negotiations with NW3 CLT for the sale and regeneration of the site.

Sanya Polescuk, a director of NW3 CLT and a BelSoc Committee members writes: 

CLTs are community-led local organisations set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, such as community enterprises, food growing areas, or workspaces.

NW3 CLT is the first registered Community Land Trust in North London and was set up in April 2016. It is a not-for-profit, Registered Community Benefit Society with its base in Belsize Park, membership of close to 150 and a Board of five Directors. We work together to leverage our skills as a community and as individuals from diverse backgrounds, be they key workers and civil servants or building and finance professionals. 

As members of the National CLT Network (NCLT Network), we at NW3 CLT seek to influence developments in national housing policies. We work with local organisations such as Voluntary Action Camden and  Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, helped by local media and social media. We are supported both financially and through mentorship by the NCLT Network and by the GLA’s Community-led Housing Hub. 

Over the last five years we have worked to raise awareness about the erosion of affordable housing stock in our area and the growing need to provide such housing in order to sustain an integrated yet diverse community – something NW3 has historically had but which is now endangered.

We campaigned for affordable and key worker housing in NW3 and adjoining postcodes. Our work included identifying and appraising unused and underused properties in NW3 with the aim of developing them in a way that maximises the provision of affordable housing. Architecturally, our approach has been to either retain, repurpose or reuse as much of a specific building and its materials as possible. Wells Court in Oriel Place, Old Hampstead Police Station on Haverstock Hill and Branch Hill Care Home are some of the properties where we have sought to secure the provision of affordable housing.

As a CLT that is focused on housing, our main task is to make sure that homes we develop are genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in our area, not just for now but for all future occupiers. We hope to use our upcoming project to showcase how this vision can become a reality. 

A detailed business plan illustrates our first affordable housing development in NW3 which aims to provide over a dozen homes for people who work or live locally.

The project will be funded through a combination of private and public investment and grants and developed in partnership with developers and registered housing providers. We are currently working on our financing matrix which will include a Community Share Offering. Our CLT members will be closely involved in both the development of the project and the management of the properties.

For further information about NW3 CLT, visit nw3clt.org.uk. 

Mary Shenai’s Belsize Walks 16/5/2021

As we celebrate 50 years since the first few residents came together to form an association for people living and working in Belsize Park, we look back on community walks by and for our residents.

In September 1998, BRA luminary Mary Shenai led a walk in Belsize Lane with the theme of “Standing in History”.  At that time, there had been changes in the Village.  Mary’s view was that those changes should make residents realise that they were part of a continuing process, standing in history, and that it was appropriate to look back during the walk at how Belsize had become what it is today.  All future walks looked both at the past and at the present – reflecting Belsize as a place that has evolved and not atrophied. 

In October 1999, Mary led a walk about the Eton Estate with notes written by Robin Woolven and in 2000 her walk focused on the architecture of Eton Avenue.  She described Eton Avenue as a “street of startling variety” when compared with the uniform stucco classical houses of Belsize built before the 1880s.  Eton Avenue is recorded as completely built up and numbered by 1903.  Mary observed that its houses were not designed by leading architects.  They are houses built in the prevailing style of their age by a far-sighted and imaginative developer, William Willett, using his own architects, Harry Measures and Amos Faulkner.  

In October 2001, Mary’s walk centred on Lyndhurst Road.  She said: “We need to get our imaginations to sweep away everything you see here today…none of these houses, no roads, no Fitzjohns Avenue, no Akenside Road, no Lyndhurst Road, only fields and one large house in its grounds”.  This was Rosslyn House (previously known as Shelford Lodge and before that as Grove House).  The most famous resident of Rosslyn House was Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Earl of Rosslyn (1733 – 1805).  He became Lord Loughborough in 1780 and Lord High Chancellor in later years.  Members will know Wedderburn Road.  Other roads in NW3 named after Lord Chancellors are Eldon Road and Thurlow Road – as well as Lyndhurst Road itself which is named after John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst, who is buried in Highgate Cemetery.  

In September 2002, Mary’s walk was “Hayfields to Horizontal Windows: A Walk through England’s Lane”.  The name England’s Lane derives from an eighteenth century tenant farmer James England but Mary was keen to point out more modern buildings, such as Stanbury Court at the end of the Lane with its “horizontal paned windows wider than they are long, smooth white surfaces, rounded corners and flat roofs” making a “handsome building in a style uniquely of the twentieth century”.

The walk in 2003 concentrated on the left side of Belsize Lane going west towards Fitzjohns Avenue, and Daleham Gardens.  In 2004, the walk took in Belsize Park Gardens, Glenilla Road, Belsize Avenue and Belsize Square, ending with tea in St Peter’s Church.  The Church’s vicarage in the middle of the Square was sold to the New Liberal Jewish Community in 1947 who renovated it and commissioned a new synagogue by the Bauhaus trained architect H.W. Reisenberg.  A new hall was added in 1973.  Mary noted that the synagogue’s “symbolic gates proudly reveal its identity”.

In Autumn 2005, Mary led the walk with Gordon Maclean, talking about “Eton Avenue, Ancient and Modern”.  They noted the new Hampstead Theatre – opened two years previously and replacing an older prefabricated building near the Basil Spence library.   The theatre building was “one of the best new theatre buildings in England” with a glass and timber louvred skin surrounding a free-form 250 seat theatre.

Mary’s final walk took place in 2006, with “Belsize and Eton” as its subject.  She conducted the walk with Aileen Hammond who had an abundance of knowledge about Haverstock Hill.  Aileen spoke with affection about how “Haverstock Hill itself retains a slightly scruffier image – or at least we like to think so!  But Karl Marx who, we learn from Streets of Belsize, actually lived just round the corner in Maitland Park Road from 1864-75, always gave his address as Haverstock Hill.  When writing to his friend Engels he justified his rather lavish lifestyle by saying it would improve his daughters’ prospects in life.  Be that as it may, rumours are afoot that even ‘The Etons’ [Eton Road, Eton Villas, Provost Road and Eton College Road] have lost their most raffish residents – the cockroaches that gave such a warm, scurrying welcome to 1960s residents when they came home after dark and put on the lights.” How times have changed – and all the more reason to recall Mary’s words that we are standing in history. 

More recent historical walls were led by Averil Nottage and Aileen Hammond.  BelSoc plans to revive the annual walk – subject to any ongoing concerns about Covid. 

Tribute to Aileen Hammond 16/5/2021

It was with sadness that BelSoc learned of Aileen Hammond’s death on 19 February.  A much-respected councillor for Belsize, a much-loved member of BRA and BelSoc, and a generous and selfless person, she will be very greatly missed. 

Judith Gubbay pays her tribute: 

My friend Aileen was clever, and witty, and kind, and energetic. Described by one friend as a (more…)

Highgate Newtown Community Centre Wellness Cafe 12/3/2021

has started a new Telephone Befriending Service to help people who are shielding or isolating and unable to meet friends and family members. If you’re feeling anxious or scared or are worried about your health and wellbeing, and would like to chat, then you could do so regularly with someone from this service. Its aim is to support residents in Camden, who are aged over 55 and are feeling lonely, to stay connected with a friendly listening ear at the other end of a phone.
All volunteers have had a DBS check, receive training and support and you will be matched with one who can call you on a regular basis. Referrals are accepted from Adult Social Care, GPs, Family Members, Friends, Carers, Hospitals or you can refer yourself. For more information, please contact revah.larraine@outlook.com or phone 07483 145587.

Belsize Village Streatery 2020 9/2/2021

In 2017, Belsize Village was described as being “besieged by burglars” in the Evening Standard. In January, Robert Stephenson-Padron reflected at a Camden Council Meeting on what the Belsize Village Business Association has been able to do to revitalise the Belsize Village area.

The Association was started just over two years ago, a period when Bob had observed numerous businesses closing and footfalls dwindle. Despite the cloud of the Coronavirus pandemic, the past summer was one seeing economic vibrancy return to our Village. He’s particularly pleased that the employment created – estimated at 50+ jobs saved or created – were in part associated with commitments to pay the London Living Wage.

At the council meeting, Bob outlined some of the key steps in the changes seen. The first was raising the profile of the Village through social media. Looking at the Instagram, Twitter, WhatApp, Facebook pages of the Association, there is a lot of activity often centring on photos taken in Belsize Village. We all know the spot is picturesque, the central feature of recent TV ads (remember 2018 Visa advert) but the Association could really highlight the Village’s biggest strength: that all the hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Belsize Village are independents, benefitting “from the love and passion of the families that run our unique local businesses.”

A second stage of the revitalisation has focused on beautifying Belsize Village so the outdoor spaces could be used. Historically, Belsize Village suffered from litter and fly-tipping. Residents in 2015 took Camden officials on a walk to highlight the state of the village area, and working with Camden Council and with volunteers, this has been improved. Perhaps most recently were the efforts in September as part of the Nationwide Great British September Clean.

That then brings us to the Streatery. With beautiful gardening planters installed, the scene was set for an innovative, new phase for the Village on July 4, 2020, which transformed Belsize Village square into a vibrant hub and led to the economic boom the Association is most proud of. They also see this success as transferable to other communities especially tackling what they view as a largely unrecognised “litter crisis”, which blights our communities but could reset such spaces to become more economically vibrant.

Village Business Association recommendations

At the meeting at Camden Council, Belsize Village Business Association pointed at where the Council might help:

1) Tackle the litter crisis. Use the council’s marketing and enforcement power to make littering and fly-tipping anathema.

2) Have a drive to rid the Borough of graffiti-based vandalism and step up enforcement against other Anti-Social Behaviour.

3) Continue to support the innovative use of public spaces such as pro-actively supporting the Belsize Village Streatery.

4) Designate Belsize Village as a Historic Action Zone to help, for instance, install visually attractive Belsize Village signs. 

5) Provide economic incentives to businesses and/or landlords to upgrade the frontages of their buildings because these upgrades benefit an entire community.

6) Pro-actively work on improving community infrastructure, perhaps extending Belsize Village square down Belsize Terrace.

FInd out more at: https://belsizevillage.org.uk/ or social media handle @belsizevillage 


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