News & Issues

BelSoc Deputation to Camden Planning Committee 15/2/2020

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 15/2/2020

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. 

Tradesmen You Can Trust 15/2/2020

A New Decade and nearly time for a new TYCT

So please get busy with email or pen and form, to send us your new tradesmen ‘finds’, plus re-recommendations for existing entries. All this input is for members, by fellow members  – so mutually beneficial!
Our thanks to all who have already contributed. As a reminder to those who intend to do so, please use the form enclosed with this newsletter, or download the same form from, or just email full details, including your own, to by 3rd April 2020.

Belsize Carols 15/2/2020

The cold weather was no bar to a well-attended and sonorous session of carols in Belsize Village on 23 December. Special thanks to leader, Choir Master Matthew Watts.  Thanks to all who made or brought mince pies.  Well done to all who contributed to Marie Curie Hospice: we raised £309 in 45 minutes, which is not bad going.

Hampstead Theatre at Sixty 10/12/2019

This is a milestone year for Hampstead Theatre, which celebrated its 60th Birthday in September. As many readers will know, the theatre has recently welcomed a new Artistic Director, replacing Edward Hall who was at the helm from 2010. Roxana Silbert has joined from the Birmingham Rep and continues the theatre’s tradition of staging significant new plays and new writers.

The current season got off to a memorable start with The King of Hell’s Palace which ran in September and October.  The play, written by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and directed by Michael Boyd (former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company), was inspired by the real life of Dr Shuping Wang, who exposed the spread of hepatitis and HIV infection through contaminated blood and plasma in China two decades ago. The imaginative set, which jutted out into the audience, made the dialogue, singing, dancing and soundscape very engrossing.

At the curtain call on the opening night of Hell’s Palace, the actress playing the role inspired by Shuping’s whistleblowing, invited Shuping onto the stage to take a bow. She received a standing ovation, which was, in retrospect, particularly poignant as she was to pass away 10 days later.  

The Christmas production, Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer, opening on 29 November, promises to be a gripping, psychological thriller.  Taking as its subject the famous chess match that became a signature event of the Cold War, this is a world premiere from Tom Morton-Smith, the writer of Oppenheimer. It is directed by Annabelle Comyn, who has worked in leading theatres in Ireland where she is based.

Roxana Silbert makes her own directing debut as Artistic Director in early 2020. The play is The Haystack, another world premiere, and is an intriguing story about GCHQ, data, electronic intrusion and the world of intelligence operations.

Many residents will remember the Hampstead Theatre Club, as it then was, in its much-loved re-purposed scout hut. Today the theatre’s welcoming space houses two auditoria: the recently refurbished Main House, with 370 seats and the exciting studio space, Hampstead Downstairs.   The downstairs studio (of which our Newsletter Editor is a particular devotee) has hosted many innovative and interesting productions, in an informal atmosphere.

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