Good IARA meeting on 29 October – Minutes

The Inkerman Area Residents Association
The Tenants and Residents Association for the area bounded by Kentish Town Road,
Holmes Road, Grafton Road, Ryland Road and Prince of Wales Road
InkermanARA@hotmail.com www.http://ramjet.3v0.net/~inkerman

Minutes of meeting held on 29 October 2007 at St Patricks School

Attending:

Doreen Bartlett – Prince of Wales Road;
Ann Finer – Grafton Road
Beryl Bailey, John Keane – Inkerman Road
Elizabeth Kwantreng, Martin Plaut, Dominic Tinley – Ryland Road
Barbara Storey, Rachel Turner, Denise Searle, Diana Harewood, Tom Coulter, Don Hibbs, Sacha Kobayashi, Laura Andreae, Belinda Low, Nicholas Hadaway, Sarah Harvey, Sarah Monk – Willes Road
Robert Livock, Mary Hill, John Nicholson – Ryland Road
Liz Woodeson, Charles Collett, Debby and David Hyams, – Alma Street

Paul Ryan, Ed Fahy, Nick Cornelius – Kentish Town Safer Neighbourhood Team
Tim Gray – London Borough of Camden Street Environment Service
Councillor Ralph Scott – Camden Councillor

Gardening and Environment:

Robert Livock showed the meeting the certificate for the third place in the Best Communal Gardens Award.

The meeting had a report about the planting of bulbs and small plants round the bases of trees throughout the area and credit was given to Sarah Harvey for organising this. She asked for people to continue to maintain trees, watering them, clearing leaves and dog mess.

She proposed an “Adopt a Tree” policy for the area and took names of people who would take responsibility for trees outside their houses.

There was a discussion about putting notices on the trees. Some had been put up already telling people that bulbs had been planted and asking them to control their dogs. There was some unease expressed about having many permanent labels on trees as we discouraged other people from using trees as notice boards, including for commercial services.

There was a discussion about the planting of prickly plants such as berberis or pyracantha under trees to discourage dogs. Some people suggested they might be a bit big for under trees.

Martin Plaut reported that Ryland Road is looking particularly good now thanks to the efforts of one or two activists but he mentioned the fact that the trees there are larger than they should be for the street and they are causing problems with houses. Ralph Scott suggested asking Camden’s Tree Officer to come to the area for a walkabout, to identify problem trees, popular trees and possibilities for new planting. He will progress this quickly and get back to us as the planting season starts aboutnow.

The meeting was reminded that the main planting and maintenance activity was about the communal gardens in Raglan Street. These were previously derelict land which, under pressure from IARA, Camden Council cleared and landscaped with raised beds. These beds have been planted and maintained week after week by the hard work of certain local activists including Beryl Bailey, Sue Gerrard, Robert Livock and Mary Hill, plus others.

Dilip Lakhani, who is a qualified landscape gardener and designer, has produced some proposals for new planting which would reflect the fact that it is extremely hard and back breaking work to keep the beds watered.

We have bought a bowser but it is a continuous struggle to keep the beds well watered.

There was discussion again about trying to tap into the local water supply courtesy of some support of nearby neighbour.

Diana Harewood mentioned the planned mosaic for the back wall which is currently in a poor state of repair. She and Sarah had drawn up plans based on the theme of the River Fleet.

Tim Grey said that he thought it might help reduce graffiti which is quite a problem along that wall.

There were problems regarding whose wall it is in fact and the fact that the owners would need to give permission. Diana and Robert reported that the householder whose end wall is currently painted white is supportive and would allow a mosaic at least on his part of the wall.

Ralph Scott mentioned the fact that it will need planning permission and that the Kentish Town Community Centre had quite a long struggle to get planning permission for a small mosaic near their centre.

We discussed the fact that the retaining walls of the beds are cracked and Dilip has suggested that they be repaired before any more work is done. Robert thought that they should probably be left well alone and people suggested growing trailing plants down the front of the wall to conceal the cracks.

Sarah said that there are 200 bulbs left waiting to be planted and she proposes to have another planting session this Sunday at 10.30 concentrating on Raglan Street.

Back on the subject of house walls, the people in Ryland Road are complaining about giant cherry trees. Sarah Monk mentioned the fact that there were cracks in her house in Willes Rd which she attributed to the tree outside. Camden are requiring her to get a surveyor’s report before they will investigate.

The whole question of the choice of trees has been raised previously with Reuben Hayes, a tree officer from Camden who attended an IARA meeting and who heard people’s desire for more appropriate trees but nothing seems to have happened.

Ralph Scott mentioned that tree strategy is currently under discussion and there was a committee meeting about this last week. The Councillors were pressing the officers to plant more trees and to be more selective about species.

Dark Willes road: There were discussions about the fact that the lights in Willes Road, near the swimming poo,l are covered by the leaves on the trees growing around them. The area is dark and people have been mugged along there.

Tim Grey said that he would raise it with Andrea Jackson, the lighting person in Camden. The police officers also agreed to be alert to the problem.

There was discussion about the abandoned telephone box in Prince of Wales Road which is a simple eyesore and of no use to anybody. Ralph Scott explained that there are legal problems in that, although the firms are not using them, they are still their property and cannot simply be removed.

David mentioned the fact that in some parts of London the local councils are planting beds around them and using them to grow climbing plants over.

There were concerns about the fact that the recycling services are good but the recycling boxes are often left out in the street with their lids off which both collects water and announces to the world the householder is away for any length of time. Tim Grey said that he would raise this with the contractors.

Dominic Tinley mentioned again the fact that the paving slabs outside of the swimming baths in Prince of Wales Road have been installed by Camden but were then shortly thereafter smashed by EDF, the power company, and that between 10 and 15 of them are now in a dangerous state. Tim Grey said that he had raised this and they had been inspected but not thought to be seriously dangerous.

Dominic made the point that they were the property of Camden and had been broken by the power company who surely should return them to the previous state. Ralph Scott also offered to pursue this matter.

The question of 7 Ryland Road was raised again. It had previously been raised by Jim Munday. This is a council property which seems not have had any maintenance for the last 15 years. Ralph Scott will chase this up.

Traffic lights on Kentish Town Road are very slow to react to pedestrian requests which means that the people in fact push the button, wait for some sort of gap in the traffic and then cross (including some young people for whom it may not be very safe) and then a few minutes later the lights change to red unnecessarily and the traffic is held up.

Adam has raised the issue that the crossing times at Regis Road have been extended with the result that the traffic is held for longer and that increases air pollution in the area. Ralph Scott said that he would investigate this as well.

There was the inevitable discussion about dog mess in the streets and Tim Grey mentioned the fact that there are new powers of enforcement including the police giving tickets to dog owners whose dogs are not on leads or who are fouling the area. The police officers confirmed that they will be enforcing that. There are new signs being made which will be put up around the area.

Traffic Wardens: Several people mentioned the aggression of the traffic wardens who still seem to be treating parking restrictions as a money-making or a target- meeting exercise including booking people who are unloading shopping or builders unloading supplies.

Ralph Scott said the council were trying to achieve a culture change from being punitive to being helpful. Diana mentioned that in Manchester her experience had been that traffic wardens would politely inform motorists of the rules and would guide them into a more appropriate parking space if available.

Ralph Scott said that the contractors were no longer ‘incentivesed’ simply to raise money. If complaints are made and are upheld then that hurts their bonus system. People said that they had complained in the past but as far as they knew the complaint did not go anywhere.

Some members said that enforcement was to be encouraged and in particular in Raglan Street it is still being used as a car park by people from outside of the area.

There was a suggestion that the parking wardens should redirect their attention to parking which is actually dangerous. The stretch of Holmes Road leading to the High Street is narrow and parking outside McDonalds generates a serious safety risk. There has been at least one fatal accident on that junction and cars parking on that double yellow line should be ticketed strongly.

Elizabeth Kwantreng raised the fact that she had previously complained about the presence of a portakabin in Ryland Rd which had been out the back of her home for over a year now blocking the light and generating pollution. Ralph Scott said that he would investigate whether this was properly licensed and what enforcement action could be taken.

Ann Finer mentioned a house in Willes Road where there is burnt out rubbish against a garage door. Tim Grey said that he would take immediate steps to have that rectified.

The swimming baths

Ralph Scott reported the fact that the user group has been active regarding internal arrangements. The proposed plan for un-segregated changing rooms had been changed back to a more traditional system. The layout of the studio space has been changed.

He explained that the inside had been gutted in the 1960s and there was nothing of any great heritage value. The outside is listed and will be preserved largely.

The timing is that the plans are in for planning permission and should appear before the committee before Christmas. If planning permission is granted, work will start in the spring of 2008 and should be completed by 2010.

The user group would welcome new members.

Questions raised by Laura and Nicholas about the “townhouses” along with Willes Road. The stretch from the end of the Victorian houses for some distance which is not Victorian but built in a red brick which matches the Victorian building will be demolished and replaced with town houses and flats.

Laura produced a printout of the plans which show bright green copper projections on doorways and balconies which she described as “bold”. She asked whether this was a detailed, final planning application and Ralph Scott said he would check. Details of this planning application and how to comment on it will be circulated to members.

The accommodation on the site is to be four townhouses and nine flats. None of these will be social or affordable housing although three affordable units will be built on the old engineer’s site.

Liz Woodeson, who is on the user group, said that she was surprised because this issue with the townhouses had not been raised with them. There was discussion about whether they would have parking rights. If so, it would make parking in Willes road extremely difficult since, when the baths are reopened, the schools entrance would again be established in Willes Road which would lead to the parking of coaches along that stretch.

Ralph Scott explained that the cost of renovation was enormous – £23,000,000 and was considered to be quite exceptional and that compromises had to be made in order to try and bring the costs within budget.

Belinda Lowe said that she was very concerned that studio space had been lost. Ralph Scott agreed that there were previously two studios and now there will only be one which will halve the number of classes that can take place at the centre. He said that the gym would be much improved and that the one remaining studio space would be large. Belinda Lowe said that she had rung a large number of people in Camden and had been passed around from person to person and no one could actually confirm how large the studio space would be. Ralph Scott said that he would try and get a definite answer to this and let the association know.

Ann Finer raised the fact that it was disappointing that there was no snack bar or restaurant anywhere in the premises although there was space in the waiting area. Ralph Scott said there would be machines dispensing refreshments. Ann asked about lift access and Ralph Scott said the entire site had to meet with the new disability regulations.

Pizza Express

David explained that the Pizza Express on the corner of Prince of Wales Road and High Street was going to be demolished and he outlined the fact that the previous plans had been particularly terrible and that the present application was slightly better. He distributed copies of the architect’s drawings which show a rather heavy lumpy building which most people were not enthusiastic about.

The fact is that Camden Council cannot refuse planning permission on simple aesthetic grounds but can do so on grounds that it is inappropriate for the location. Robert added that it is reasonable to ask for buildings that fit in with the local style and that use sympathetic building materials (eg brick). David urged people to log to the Camden site, to express their views about the plan and copy the Residents Association in. If there is a clear view from members, IARA will also write.

Street party

The summer event was great success in spite of the terrible weather. It unfortunately ended up with £100 deficit which was made up from Residents Association funds. There was discussion about whether there should be some winter event such as a Christmas fair. There did not seem to be quite enough energy for that and Diana reported that she had been refused any financial support for it from various local grant schemes.

It was agreed that we would wait until the late spring to organise another street event and try and get some grants in advance although, if the weather is at all good and if we have enough raffle tickets, the event could be self funding.

Great credit was given to the great support that the Safer Neighbourhoods Team had given throughout the planning of the summer event and on the day. The school had also been extremely supportive, lending us the stage and some other equipment, plus Joe’s help on the day.

Any other business

Ralph Scott mentioned the creation of the Area Forum designed to gather views about priorities of local residents. That is meeting on 12 November at the library in the High Street 7.00 for 7.30 start through to 9.30 end (latest).

If people wish to contribute to the forum views and are not able to attend the meeting, they can email in their comments to ralph.scott@camden.gov.uk

The website is being improved all the time and these minutes and other information will be posted there. The history group has recently posted a history of the area in maps which allows people to see the area when it was still fields and nurseries and to see how the houses built on the area reflect the field pattern and indeed the streets reflect the course of the River Fleet running through our area.

The date of the next meeting will be announced by email and notices in the usual way.