News & Issues

Belsize Society Newsletter May 2024 18/5/2024

Welcome to the May Newsletter of the Belsize Society.

The Newsletter includes updates from the Retrofitting Group, who recently visited a Council-managed refurb project in Belsize and who report on the improvements being made at 5-7 Belsize Grove. These homes will have solar, insulation, double glazing and enhanced thermal performance.

We are also supporting the Council in a bid for a retrofit accelerator. Securing funding will mean a series of workshops that would bring together residents with planners, retrofitting experts and other organisations to understand how to reduce the hurdles for those seeking to make old buildings more sustainable. This all occurs as the local Pears Building of the Royal Free wins an award citing its contribution to sustainability.

It was a pleasure to present David Percy with an award on behalf of the Society for his contribution to local history. Over the last decades we have seen Belsize through his lens, and his writing. The Newsletter also covers his most recent, remarkable, contribution: a book covering 100 houses in Belsize and neighbouring areas.

We held our AGM in March, and a new committee was put in place. This issue covers the discussion at the meeting. We have begun to follow up a request from members that we allow them to choose not to receive a paper Newsletter. There was also a desire to change the name of our popular Traders You Can Trust. This is the new name of TYCT,  replacing Tradesmen, and you’ll have received the 2024 edition with this Newsletter.

There is a piece about what’s on at the Hampstead Theatre and the exhibition at the Isokon. We also provide an update on the Council’s removal of paper visitor permits for general use by residents.

Details of the venue of the summer party are in the Newsletter. We will confirm the date electronically. 

Enjoy this Newsletter.

The LARA Project  18/5/2024

Chris Langdon, Retrofit Group Member, writes:

Are you considering improving your home to cut fuel costs or reduce draughts, but not sure how to find the right suppliers? Are you are concerned about contradictory messages from Camden about what you are allowed to do in a Conservation Area like Belsize? 

If so, join the club! 

That’s why the Belsize Society has recently set up an informal group of members who plan to retrofit their homes.  The group met on 30 April in the Washington pub. We discussed Camden Council’s call for support for its bid to join a new project designed to overcome some of the blockages making domestic retrofit so hard.   Camden is applying to be one of three Councils to pilot the new Local Area Retrofit Accelerator. It’s called LARA for short. 

The LARA pilot project will also aim to set up local delivery groups, which will aim to turn the plan into substantive action, working with local supply chains, businesses, colleges and installers.

For the LARA pilot, the initial funding would go to Camden – if they are successful. Camden’s bid would, they say, “allow residents and local groups to work together to develop an action plan to accelerate domestic retrofit in Camden.”  A main plank of Camden’s bid are a series of workshops in the autumn.  They ask organisations like Belsize Society to commit to engage seriously with the co-designing and participating in the workshops. 

Having offered our support to Camden in principle, we will wait to see if Camden’s bid to join the LARA pilot is successful.


Camden Council’s decision to scrap visitor parking scratchcards for general use has not changed. However, there remain ways to obtain cards for residents that find using the online options impossible, by calling Camden Council on 020 7974 4646. Members have reported that once any difficulties accessing visitor parking permits have been explained, permits can be ordered.

In the next months, the Council is monitoring how the “digital first” policy on visitor parking permits is operating. We continue to collect observations from members on how they are finding the new systems. Comments on the convenience of the scratchcards, and their importance to local businesses, have been made to BelSoc. 

So far, comments have indicated frustrations with the Camden online system – “going to my Camden Council account…  Sadly, I got nowhere”. The difficulty with accessing services through the internet more generally has also arisen: “(we) are over 78, …(and) I use email but find it very difficult to use any online system to scan or log on”.

At the recent Camden Cabinet meeting on parking policy, the Council parking team undertook to work with resident organisations to make sure the new policy operates without imposing a digital divide on accessing visitor parking permits. We continue to seek your views on this matter.

BelSoc Annual General Meeting 18/5/2024

This year’s AGM was held at Belsize Square Synagogue on Sunday 12 March, with about 50 members attending.

The Chair reported on the year, noting the sad loss of our Treasurer at the start of 2023, and the steps that had to be taken to fill the substantial gap for the Society. Eva Papadopoulou was welcomed as the new treasurer.

The year saw a successful historic walk and a well-attended carol singing event. The Society was also able to co-host a talk with the Friends of the Belsize Community Library, also contributing to the Library’s refurbishment. The Society had also continued its initiative supporting retrofits. 

The Society’s finances remain healthy, and there were donations to local charities. In the context of rising costs, discussion about raising the annual subscription fee to £20 led to a resolution enabling the committee to raise 2025 subs. There was also the suggestion that the committee consider how printing costs may be reduced through electronic publications. 

A new committee was agreed, and – soon after this year’s AGM – the committee has been joined by two further co-opted members, Heather Harte and Alan Selwyn.


Members who have provided email addresses to the Society are sent links to the content of the Newsletter. This means you could be reading this on your tablet, phone or computer. 

If you prefer reading the Newsletter online and you’d like to save the paper and printing of a paper newsletter, then let us know at Later this year, you will be removed from the paper circulation.

If you choose the online version, we will still send you the paper TYCTs, usually with the May Newsletter. You can also opt back into the paper version. At the same time, we will be seeking to make the online/email version of the Newsletter an easier online read.

We know many members prefer paper. So we will still need members that can help with deliveries. It involves a pleasant stroll four times a year. Do volunteer if you can help on this, emailing

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