Meeting 1 June 2009

Minutes of IARA meeting 1 June 2009

Present: Tim Gray (Camden Council), Charles Collett, David and Debby Hyams, (Alma Street), Juana Espasa, Diana Harewood, Don Hibbs, Adam Leys, Margaret Walters, Gerry Badger, Sarah Monk, Sarah Harvey (Willes Road), Helen Hodgson (Inkerman Road), Lizzie Keene (Ryland Road), Alex Dunbar (Holmes Road), Harriet Craven (Raglan Street), Chris Townsend, Victoria Pierre (MAP), Michael Ptootch (Flaxon Ptootch), Nick Russell (councillor).

Apologies: Ralph Scott, Faruque Ansari, Norma Wynter., Ruth Needham, Hilary Barnes, John Nicholson, Paul Seviour, Natalie Turner, Jeff Baynes, Dilip Lakhani

Planning Issues: notice received of an application for change of use to a gym in Imperial Works, Perren Street. Not clear if for public use or within the development. If for public use concern about traffic and noise. Lizzie Keene to investigate further.

Baths: report from people in Willes and Grafton Roads that the contractors are doing well with no noise, dust problems and without excessive lorry traffic. Agreed we should send a letter of appreciation to Fiona Dean who is liaising at Camden saying things were good – so far. Various detailed/technical planning applications for the site are on the Camden website (

55 Holmes Rd: Alex Dunbar spoke on behalf of residents. This block, which is just before the bend, nearly opposite the student block, was built with 14 flats which is just below the cut off for there to be an obligation to include some public sector housing. On the roof there was permission for a lift machinery / plant room. In fact the developer built a plant room of nearly twice the permitted size and of great ugliness. Around the edge he constructed a very ugly, temporary railing of scaffolding poles. He has now applied for permission to build two floors of extra flats on the roof! His application was rejected by Camden and he has appealed. This raises the question of both the failure of Camden Enforcement team to enforce the original permission limits and of the appeal process.

Camden say they will not prioritise this or enforce re size issue. They say it is not bad enough or causing enough public concern. It has been suggested that a petition would establish public concern. Alex circulated one at the meeting, and one is attached to these minutes.

Camden’s Enforcement : Adam mentioned the failure of enforcement to enforce a breach of planning law for 10 years in the High Street which resulted in it being too late to enforce. An apology and compensation has been paid to Kentish Town Road Action for this. There is also the current issue of enforcement of illegal change of use from shop to estate agent in the High Street – opposite the Greek Church.

Nick Russell told us that the enforcement team is over stretched and under-resourced – ‘a Cinderella Department’ – that people are not keen to work for.

Adam also raised the appearance of a phone mast and associated large and buzzing electrical box on the pavement. This is in the upper part of Grafton – just outside our area. It appeared together with a notice about the application for permission for it. How is this allowed? Tim Gray will investigate and report.

Street event – Diana reported on progress and welcomed key players to the meeting – Michael of Flaxton Pootch in the High Street and Chris and Vicky from MAP in Grafton Rd. She told the meeting about bands that are being recruited which include some of last year’s great successes and some local talent as well as a band specialising in old time tunes – for which old time people are needed in the audience. Harriet has contacts with the Day centre in Raglan Street and Alex will contact some other day centres in the area.

There is also a gym display team from Talacre who will perform. There is a call for anyone who knows jugglers or street performers to contact Diana (

Michael told us that Party Party will print balloons with logos on them and 5th Column will do T shirts, plus run a stall for children (and others) who want to print stuff.

There are areas where help is needed: people to help set up on the day and clear away at the end. We need a van to help to collect tables and chairs on the morning. Also people to deliver leaflets and posters to schools, library and shops.

There was a discussion about the need or not for a porta-loo. Nick will remind Ralph to check whether the Forum has one to lend. Diana will investigate costs if we want to hire one. Nandos and Macdonalds are a part of the community toilet scheme, and we will ask The George.

Police horses should attend unless called out on urgent duty. The gardeners group will be ready with buckets.

First aid. Debby has contacted St John’s ambulance and is waiting to hear back finally. Will also approach the Red Cross. Harriet was a nurse and will have simple first aid kit.

Tim Gray noted the date and said he would ensure the streets are cleaned before and after the event.

The High Street: David reported on the work of Kentish Town Road Action – including opposing the drift to 24 hour Kentish Town with extra hours applications by pubs etc. Caroline Hill is very hard working in opposing extensions and the meeting unanimously agreed that IARA should support her in this. The recent application by Macdonald’s for what was virtually a 24 hour licence was opposed by KTRA and members appeared and argued our case before the committee at Camden who did not allow the extension.

David reported that one use for the compensation payment from Camden would be to fund the production of a poster or leaflet promoting the High Street shops and services – a ‘Use us or Lose us’ theme. He has done a survey of shops and services and he and Sarah Harvey will work on making it presentable and eye-catching.

Problems in Willes Rd: there were reports of several incidents in Willes Rd. There was a recent burglary which involved kicking in the wooden security shutters. This was 12.30 at night. The burglars made such a noise shouting etc that a neighbour assumed they were just rowdies in the street. Cars have been very badly scratched and kicked in or broken into. One boy was mugged recently for his mobile; another resident was abused and hit when she tried to take a photo of a child who threw a bottle at her window. The message was to take any noises or signs of crime seriously and ring 999. If it’s to report a crime that has taken place but not a current emergency, call 0300 123 1212.

This will all be reported to Sgt Ryan of the Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team who usually comes to the meetings but was not able to on this occasion. Their contact number is 020 8721 2695 and their e-mail is

Police station: the question of the possible closure of the Police Station was raised and Nick Russell told the meeting that the consultation had produced so many expressions of concern that the Mayor of London had called in the whole matter and it was not proceeding at the present time.

Talacre: Debby informed the meeting that Talacre has been designated a Town Green as per CNJ of 28 May. Ralph Scot had been very active in that campaign, opposing the Conservative members of the ruling coalition. The meeting expressed great approval and appreciation for this work and the outcome.

Trees and Gardens: Adam reported that the tree outside his house had been slightly vandalised in that a branch had been torn off. He reported this to Camden council and within about an hour a contractor had come and cut it down claiming falsely that it was unsafe. Counting the rings indicated it was at least 30 years old. Great protests were made to Alistair Smith the senior tree man at Camden and request for replacement with a mature tree and of an acceptable species. There were complaints by several people of the very crude pruning of trees in the area. In addition the street cleaners had been digging up and removing plants and bulbs from the small garden at the bases of the trees that members had planted. Tim Gray said he would ensure instructions went out to street cleaners not to do this.

Several members raised the extremely good work of one particular street sweeper who is very conscientious and cheerful and there is a plan for the presentation of an Award at the Street Event.

Camden is consulting well on improving the recently cleared land at the corner of Holmes Road and Spring place. IARA’s gardening group has been approached and will be meeting with council officers and helping to plan a low maintenance garden.

Everyone expressed great appreciation for the work of the residents on the gardens in Raglan Street, which give great pleasure. Many thanks to Robert and Beryl in particular.

Flytipping: The bin area at Una House seems to have become a target for people, possibly residents, dumping large items of rubbish (eg mattresses). It probably happens late at night. Tim Gray agreed to ensure removal, but evidence of who’s doing it is needed if Camden are to prosecute. Using CCTV is problematic. Raglan Street residents to let Tim know of future problems (tim.gray [on the website: this is not a hotlink as spammers pick up on these and send their rubbish]

And an AOB not raised at the meeting:

Regis Peyraque is looking to rent and share a secure, small space in someone’s garage locally.

He lives at 47 Willes Road and wishes to store an additional bike. He’d like to be able to access the space, without causing disruption.

m: 0793 287 1696 h: 0207 267 8213