Annual General Meeting 2017

We had a well attended meeting and party last night at The Grafton.  Minutes will follow, but meanwhile here is the Chair’s report, and below it a link to the Financial Statement.

IARA Chair’s report 2017

Planning, licensing and the High Street

We’ve kept an eye on planning applications, both within the Inkerman Area and beyond. For domestic applications, in line with agreed policy, we don’t take a view but do try to alert neighbours to applications that may affect them.

For non-domestic applications we consult you and then if there is consensus or near consensus we send in our comments. Some of these applications succeeded despite local objections (sadly, the former Beardsmore Gallery application for conversion to flats was granted), and some were turned down (Mary Brancker House, the student hostel in Holmes Road, will not be allowed a change of use for vacation short stays).

Some applications have gone very quiet – we hear that the developer for the Spring Place site has pulled out, and we await developments there. Others are (literally) pretty noisy – the Magnet site (more student accommodation) is a big project and IARA has 4 representatives on a working group to try to ensure that the traffic and building management plans are adhered to. We have worked quite closely with CFBL (the French School) on this one.

We’ve supported Kentish Town Road Action in resisting late licensing applications, and argued strongly against the Post Office relocation. So far, licensing is holding a line but, alas, the Post Office will be moving and downsizing. The current focus of KTRA is on traffic pollution and how to get it reduced, particularly on Kentish Town Road.

We have been very sorry to see the closure of the Raglan Day Centre and have been pressing the Council to keep the building for use as accommodation for older people. We will continue to push for this.

We’ve had some conversations with residents about the Inkerman Conservation Area Statement, and whether it is time to look at that again with a view to some modest and uniform roof extensions being allowed. There are views both ways, so we are maintaining a neutral position. A group of residents who would like to see the idea taken forward has met once and will be doing further work on this.

Gardens and trees

The Raglan Street garden, lovingly tended by Robert and a few helpers, has had a traumatic time with the lengthy repairs that have finally been done to the wall behind the garden. Many of the plants had to be removed and others died, but Camden provided funds for replanting and Robert has done a great job selecting and bedding in new plants, including some donated by residents.

The community garden on the corner of Holmes Road and Spring Place, which was planned and planted by Dilip, is looking amazing. A small group turned out on a blustery weekend to do an autumn tidy-up (see website for photos).

We’ve kept in touch with Camden about problems with trees, and have been pleased to see some dead and dying ones removed, with promises for replanting over the winter. A continuing and perhaps intractable problem is trees getting bashed by large vehicles – including Veolia trucks. Some residents do a great job in creating and tending little gardens at the bases of trees, which really make our streets look lovely. We’ve had a few problems with Council contractors spraying what they consider to be weeds, but now have an assurance that all contractors have been told to leave our tree bases alone.

Traffic and Parking

A small group of us have met twice with councillors and council officers to try to find solutions to the dangerous situation with Anglers Lane being used as a rat run from Prince of Wales Road to the High Street. Camden officers have now carried out feasibility studies for introducing a left turn from Prince of Wales Road to Kentish Town Road, and are taking this forward to TFL (who do have the power to veto it). We await the outcome of this with some excitement as it is something we have been pushing for for some 30 years!

We are also pressing Camden to limit coach parking near the Baths and CFBL to 30 minutes, to avoid the area being used as a coach park. Cllr Meric Apak is helping us to try and get this implemented, as we had thought it agreed some months back. Meanwhile, Adam is fighting a one-man battle to stop Camden vehicles clogging up residents bays at all hours.

Sub Groups

1. Alma Street Fair
We had a much higher involvement from residents this year in planning the fair and as a result it went well, with some very good feedback from residents. We had said that it could only happen with a core committee of at least 12 people, and a number of people really stepped up and took on big areas of responsibility. We also had good input from parents at St. Patricks School, from Chris at MAP cafe, Michael at Flaxon Ptootch and Dan from the Camden New Journal. We will meet in the new year to consider what may happen in 2018, so let us know if you would like to be involved.

2. PlayStreet
The monthly sessions in Ryland Street have continued to be a great success and a brilliant way for families new to the area to meet each other and for their children to be able to play safely outside.

3. Police Liaison – Safer Neighbourhood Panel
John and Paul attend these meetings regularly, and raise any issues from our area. It is really important that people let us know of criminal activity so that they can take this to the Panel. This may result in it being given a higher priority (although in general ours is a relatively low crime area). There have been significant problems at Monmouth House, and new resident Melanie has been doing some terrific work to re-establish a Tenants and Residents Association there, and liaising with Camden and the police to address the issues.

4. CFBL/IARA Liaison group
Don, Jean and Adam continue to keep an eye on any issues with the French School and to raise them through the Liaison Group.

5. Magnet Site Working Group
After a shaky start, with just a handful if immediate neighbours being consulted about a traffic management plan, we now have reasonable liaison, with a monthly newsletter and contact details for project managers.

6. Independent Elders of IARA
We’ve now have a mailing list of over 30, and an average attendance of 12. We’ve had 6 meetings this year, 3 of them with guest speakers covering a range of issues – Cllr. Georgia Gould came to talk to us about Social Care in Camden, Paul shared his experiences of Lasting Power of Attorney and the Court of Protection, and Dr. David Turner came along to answer questions on older people’s health and end of life issues. Hilary used the group as the basis for her art degree project and got a distinction for her wonderful banner featuring the Elders. Jean and Belinda launched a series of workshops (still ongoing) to collect our stories and memories of the neighbourhood and our lives in it – and some wonderful stories are emerging.

IARA Financial Statement 2017