Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Inkerman Area Residents Association for the year 2021. Held on 19 January 2022 by Zoom.
Alma St: Charles C, Hilary B, Debby H, David J, Jeremy B, Alison L, Patricia D
Willes Rd: Don H, Belinda L, Jonathan B, Julia F, James H, Vivienne M, Dee S, Mike S, Jeff B, Diana H
Raglan St: Paul S, John N, Mary H
Ryland Rd: Trisha M, Martin P
Brinsmead: Shivaun McC, Jeff W, Liz De K Chris C
Inkerman Rd: Rafe
Grafton Rd: Chris H, Jon C
Holmes Road: Judith L
Apologies: Gary L, David P, Helen H, Hatti O, Robert L, Harriet C.
Minutes of the AGM for 2020. Approval of these proposed by Dee and seconded by Mike. Carried unanimously.
Election of officers: there were no new candidates and the existing officers we are re-elected unanimously: Chair: Debby. Secretary: David. Treasurer: Paul. Proposed by Diana and seconded by Dee.
Chair’s report: Debby referred to the written report which had been circulated previously and is available on the website at https://www.inkermanresidents.org.uk/uncategorized/2021-agm-papers
She summarised it by saying that it had been a very strange year. There had been some sad losses including that of Ed.
She mentioned the fact that the WhatsApp group had increased greatly to 134 and it is now the main source of information and discussion in the area, although the regular emails do continue to be sent out.
Planning – Debby mentioned the great triumph of getting the application by Segro rejected by Camden and we don’t know yet whether they will be appealing.
The Beer Garden which caused so much trouble in the summer was closed down partly as a result of our efforts. Debby saluted the efforts of Judith about other issues on Regis Road, in particular the huge number of dark kitchens with the attendant noise from delivery motorcycles.
Debby referred to one of our failures which is the development in Wilkin Street where Zapp is opening a delivery service which could cause huge problems for people in Brinsmead. At present it is only construction work, but the construction lorries are working long hours and making a great deal of noise.
Their application contains misleading information that the premises were previously a shop and that the area is mixed. In fact there are 16 flats of Brinsmead exactly opposite, with bedrooms facing the site with children being disturbed. Debby said that we must keep this under review and if necessary object to any breaches of licensing.
She referred to another failure when the telecoms aerials were given approval for the top of Monmouth House.
She touched on the huge sites at the top of the town – Murphy’s Yard as well as Regis Road which is in the earlier stages of planning and these will be discussed at greater length later in the meeting.
Independent elders. After quite a long period of using zoom, the members were feeling a bit zoomed out. We had one face-to-face which was very successful in the Grafton. There is no upper or lower age limit. We discuss studies of general interest in the area and sometimes plan for activities together.
Traffic. The left turn at the end of Prince of Wales Rd seems to be taking ages to install but hopefully will reduce rat running in various streets of our area.
Green issues and discussion about a possible Alma Street Fair come later in the agenda.
Somebody raised the question of whether MAP has closed but John said that Chris had simply changed the hours and it’s only open from 4.00 p.m. onwards. There is music there on Mondays and Thursdays and he has played the last two weeks.
Treasurer’s report by Paul. He said there was very little activity this year and the only costs were the website, printing costs and registration at Companies House which total £132. Carried forward reserves of £7200. The report is on the website at https://www.inkermanresidents.org.uk/uncategorized/2021-agm-papers
Debby thanked Paul for his work and particularly the work for Companies House which is necessary because we are a limited company.
Approval of the report was proposed by Diana and seconded by Julia and carried unanimously.
John reported on the Safer Neighbourhoods Team Panel which he said had not met at all face-to-face during lockdown but did have a meeting in December.
He explained the background of the panel for those who did not know it. Effectively it is the voice of local people advising the police as to what policing priorities should be. It is almost always antisocial behaviour, in particular drug dealing and noise.
The new lead officer is David O’Neill who works alongside Danny Fitzsimmons who has been with us for some time.
At the December meeting the panel was told of quite a serious problem in the Camden area of “cukooing“ in which some vulnerable person has their home effectively taken over by other, more threatening people who move in to live but in particular use it for drug dealing. There’s not much in our immediate Inkerman area.
What may be more relevant to us is that there is an increase in mobile phone theft – snatching phones out of the hands of people on the street phone – and this is particularly prevalent outside of the tube station and Kentish Town West station but also generally on street corners. The advice very strongly is not to use your phone in the street or if you have to, to duck into a doorway to do so.
Jon C raised the issue of bike thefts and reported that they had had a £300 bike stolen, but equally the theft of a front wheel costs £75 and can delay people getting to their work.
Lunar cycles are very good with advice including changing the nuts on the front wheels. He has installed planters in his front garden which have handles that bicycles can be locked too.
David J mention that some people have installed hooks high up on their hall walls so that they can keep their bicycles inside their homes.
John told us that this was not raised as an issue but the panel was told that the police are targeting the fences and that lorry loads of stolen bikes would have been intercepted.
He made the general point that the estates do have a major problem with drug dealing but that our area is a low crime area.
Diana proposed a vote of thanks to John which was agreed to unanimously.
The Alma St fair. Jonathan spoke about the fair and summarised the fact that he had been the lead organiser in 2018 and 2019 with wonderful help from many other people. There was no chance of having one in 2020. In 2021 it was decided not to go ahead because planning has to start in early February for a June fair and the future was so uncertain that it was not wise to start planning or spending money.
He expressed enthusiasm for running a fair in 2022 but it was still dependent on Covid numbers and regulations but hopefully the summer will be better.
He will try and get another grant from Camden who have been generous in the past. A first meeting needs to take place fairly soon and he would be aiming for a fair in June but avoiding the Platinum Jubilee because that is a bank holiday weekend when many people are likely to be out of London.
It needs a committee of seven or eight people who meet monthly but beaver away in between meetings.
It is widely popular and well known in the area although it is accepted that it is inconvenient for some people. It only runs from noon until 7 pm.
From the meeting there were offers of help from Charles, Diana, Belinda and Jeremy.
Jon C pointed out that closing Alma and Inkerman makes life quite difficult in terms of parking in the wider area.
Debby mentioned that there was a strong feeling that we should try and keep it more local and not have big names and Jonathan said that there is very little proactive publicity put out.
Local History. David summarised the fact that we have now restarted the Local History group which has had two very successful meetings, courtesy of the hospitality of Vivienne, in which we exchanged information He particularly referred to the fact we have two experienced researchers in the form of Sarah in Ryland and Samantha in Holmes Rd. The Ryland Road community, in particular Martin and Sarah, cooperated to create a very attractive booklet with historical stories about local residents. Sarah has in fact done the research, which means she has details of who has lived in each house throughout the time that the census records apply to that street – 1881 onwards with the latest release of census records for the year 1821 just available.
David also referred to Martin’s book “Curious Kentish Town“ with amusing local information and Martin said that he had copies available of both the booklet and the book.
Planning. Paul introduced the subject starting with the Murphy’s Yard site where the planning application has recently been posted and is available for comment. This is a fairly massive collection of documents, but the Design and Access statement is the most important document. He explained that the application arises within the context of the Kentish Town Framework which is driven by principles from Camden and the GLA.
Regis Road is a further very large development but much more complicated because the land is owned by 15 or so different landowners whereas Murphy’s is all just owned by the Murphy company.
Paul referred to the fact that there is a meeting tomorrow, the AGM of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum where there will be a presentation by Camden on Regis Road.
Paul mentioned the inevitable issue of the Pizza Express building in which the conversion work continues and should be finished this year. The ground floor has been fitted out with a cinema and there are negotiations underway with cinema operators.
The CarpetRight warehouse across the other side of the road appears not to have much activity but this is because one of the conditions was an archaeological survey which has been now completed and has yielded some interesting 17th and 18th century artefacts.
Murphy’s Yard development. Debby commented that there is widespread concern about the fact that the many large buildings include a 19 story tower block will block the view of the Heath from the top of the town.
She mentioned that the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area have been very active in raising concerns and there is a letter that they have drafted for which they seek the signatures of other local organisations. She said that this would be circulated and she will invite comments to allow us to sign this letter if it gets general approval.
West Kentish Town. Chris C raised as a matter of urgency the plans for the redevelopment of the site and explained that it’s just outside the Inkerman area but will be highly relevant to us because it starts just the other side of the railway bridge in Grafton Road and continues up towards Gospel Oak.
The whole area to the left which is currently low-rise buildings with grass and with many mature trees will in fact be demolished and huge buildings put up, including another 19 storey tower block right by the beginning of the site in Grafton Road which will therefore loom over our area. This block in fact is not for affordable housing but for sale privately.
Dee added that the grass areas will be removed and that the buildings will be constructed right up against Grafton Road with the result that walking up towards Queens Crescent or Gospel Oak will be like walking up an urban canyon.
He told us that the general survey of tenants produced a strong vote in favour because their current blocks have been very badly maintained and they were promised nice new homes.
Liz told us that consultation with the wider area on the issue of the actual proposals closes tomorrow and she encouraged people to lodge their views as a matter of urgency.
Debby explained that this matter had been raised in emails to all members over the last two years but we have had no responses so we have not had a mandate to comment in the name of the association. But if this meeting agrees, then we do have a mandate and will comment. There was unanimous support for objections on the grounds discussed.
Strategic Planning Issues. The discussion led the meeting to appreciate, perhaps for the first time that the three big planning battles in this area, Murphys, West Kentish Town and Regis Road can all only be understood and therefore opposed when it is acknowledged that they operate according to strategic planning by Camden and the GLA who seem completely wedded to the very out of date concept of “intensification” – which means cramming as many units onto each site as possible with no regard for the environmental impact, the carbon load or the practicalities of the demands that will place on local resources such as transport, schools and GPs.
This is a subject which we need to address urgently at a bigger scale than just each individual site.
Green issues. Rafe referred to the note on the website which he said was a good start and he emphasised that we require some serious thinking about the subject and we are not here to tell others what to do but to explore resources both at a personal level and with a wider perspective.
He welcomed the creation of a small group of people who wanted to explore green issues and David mentioned that Dilip was also keen on this and had proposed a zoom meeting in about two weeks’ time, details of which will be circulated.
Rafe explained that he is the Sustainability Coordinator for Enfield and has a professional involvement in the subject. He is particularly concerned with the carbon footprint of development as well as other green matters like recycling. Rafe personally has invested in his house with extra insulation, solar panels and heat pump and he is aware that other people have solar panels operating.
Martin commented that he thought putting your money into solar panels was not the best outcome in terms of greenness because investing in larger projects such as wind power was more effective.
Don mentioned that he had got panels and he accepted that they were not going to make a profit for him personally but it was a “nod to the future“.
AOB : George IV pub. The future of this was raised and David said that he had been told that it had been brought by a property company who intend to reopen the pub and refurbish the upstairs accommodation but there doesn’t seem to be much sign of progress apart from cutting back the ivy.
Martin proposed a vote of thanks to Debby and David which seemed to receive general approval.
The meeting concluded at 8.43