Chair’s Report 2019

Most of IARA’s activities take place through subgroups and by email, so if you know people who are not signed up for emails do let them know. Through a network of street representatives we do a door-to-door mailing in advance of general meetings and other major events. If you live in a block of flats we may not be able to gain access to deliver paper notices, so any help with this would be especially appreciated.

Planning, licensing, the environment and the High Street

We look out for planning and licensing applications that may have an impact, and if you are on our email list we try to let you know about any that directly affect you. For larger commercial developments we consult you by email and, if there are shared views, we make these clear to Camden (although we would also encourage anyone to comment on applications themselves – the volume of comments does affect decisions).

We have continued to attend Working Group meetings to try and minimise the disruption caused by the Magnet Site development and are in the process of setting up liaison with Stay Club, who run the student accommodation now nearly completed and already occupied. We have opposed a further planning application to make this building even higher, and this has now finally been turned down by the Planning Inspector (after the developer appealed against Camden’s decision to refuse permission).

We have also sent in objections to proposals for a high rise block on Malden Road, radio masts on Monmouth House, a number of applications for change of use from retail to other uses and applications for new and/or late alcohol licences. We have attended consultation meetings about the potential development of the Murphy’s site which, although outside our area, has implications for the whole of Kentish Town. We also contributed to disussions about how to reduce pollution and improve the wider local environment.

We generally support the efforts of Kentish Town Road Action, on which IARA members are represented, in their efforts to maintain a healthy and flourishing High Street. Some of our members also sit on the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum.

Gardens and trees

The Holmes Road garden was designed by Dilip, who continues to liaise with Camden over its management. There are two problems facing the garden – one is that a lot of work will be needed to get it back into shape after a lengthy period of building work behind it, and the other is that Don is retiring from his heroic voluntary role in looking after the general maintenance of the garden. All offers gratefully received, and a job description is available.

We have fairly regular contact with the Tree department at the council, mainly over diseased and dying street trees and their replacements, but also to urge their contractors to stick to their agreement to leave alone the plants lovingly planted by residents around the trees. We would encourage everyone to keep an eye on this and let us know if plants are being removed – and also to water any young trees near their houses.

Alma Street Fair

Feedback from nearly everyone on this summer’s fair was very positive. People particularly enjoyed the parade. We will start discussions in January about plans for 2020, so let us know if you would like to be included in the mailing list for planning that. The Fair only happens if enough local people come forward to help, both at the planning stage and during the fair itself. This year more than 50 residents helped in some capacity and that really spread the workload and made the day fun. We are always well supported by local businesses and are particularly grateful to Flaxon Ptootch and MAP cafe for their input and support.

Independent Elders of IARA

The group has met 4 times this year and had 2 outings – one to Dennis Severs House in Spitalfields and one to Pitzhanger Manor – both very enjoyable. We generally meet during the daytime at MAP cafe (sometimes The Grafton). We have wide-ranging discussions about many issues, often resulting in follow-up with the Council, and share a lot of information about local resources.

We are always keen to bring in new members (current mailing list is 33, and meetings attendance averages 8 – 10). There is no age limit – higher or lower! If you know anyone who might like to join us, particularly those who may be more isolated, please put them in touch. The meetings are very informal – more a chat over a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) but with a focus on sharing information and taking action on areas of concern.

Safer Neighbourhood Panel

John continues to send in regular reports from the SN Panel meetings, where concerns are raised by representatives from the wider area, and priorities agreed. He can only be effective if he is told what our concerns are so do let us know if you have any. Generally, Inkerman Area is fortunate in having relatively few issues around crime – mainly antisocial behaviour, some of it drug related.

PlayStreet

The play sessions, which are held on the last Sunday of each month in Ryland Road, continue to be a great success and have proved a very good way for families to meet. It’s also an excellent template for having traffic free streets, at least some of the time!