Minutes of the general meeting of IARA 22/7/19

Alma St: Charles C, Hilary B, Debby H, David J, Jeremy B, Daniel O,
Alison L, John E
Willes Rd: Don H, Rosemary W, Dot G, David P, Jonathan B, Michele L, Vivienne M, Judy L
Raglan St: Paul S, John N, Harriet C, Mary H, Jan M
Ryland Rd: Trisha M, Etienne D, Anne H, Martin P, Gill B
Brinsmead: Shivaun McC, Jeff W
Inkerman Rd: James O, Steph
Grafton Rd: Chris H, Ed M, Sylvia M, Joanne G, Graeme C
Holmes Road: John K, Gillian M
Councillors: Meric Apak

Apologies: Sarah C, Patricia D, Jeff B, Diana B,

Debby welcomed everybody, gave the apologies and asked everyone to be sure to sign the sheet giving mailing details if we don’t already have them.

1. Alma Street Fair
Jonathan said it went extremely well and had enormous support. He mentioned support from the community which included between 50 and 60 volunteers in addition to the 20 local people who were running stalls.

He reminded us that the fair could only happen with the support of the London Borough of Camden who give the necessary licence and other support.

IARA pays the upfront costs which are necessary to launch the fair. He reminded us that if we had very poor weather and a financially bad fair, our reserves would take a considerable hit.

He mentioned that changes this year included moving one of the stages from Alma St to Inkerman where the speakers did not point directly at people’s homes and the volume was turned down.

He paid tribute to the several local performers who entertain the crowds on different stages. This included participation by schools.

The parade was the aspect that was most appreciated in feedback. It was interactive and that is something that we would like to increase in future years. We want to be open to everyone including children, various interest and sports groups.

He also expressed our thanks to the local trades people without whose support the fair could not take place..

It will probably happen next year and suggestions for developments are very welcome, either to him or to Debby.

Debby said that discussions and meetings start in January or February and it will only go ahead if there are sufficient numbers of people interested in participating.

Gill asked if the volunteer numbers at 60 was an increase.

Jonathan confirmed that it was and explained that this was very necessary because Anglers Lane was closed for safety reasons and Camden require us to have marshals to direct traffic.

Paul proposed a vote of thanks to everyone involved but specifically to Jonathan for chairing the committee and for David Prince who organised the Eventbrite booking system for the stalls.

2. Planning issues
Debby mentioned the Magnet Site, the new student block. This seems to be partly open and planning permission allowed for short student lets over the summer but the question is whether the current turnover of people staying are in fact students. This will be raised at the next meeting of the working group. It appears that the building will open properly in September and IARA will continue liaising with the management.

Two local residents at 74A Holmes Road mentioned a very high level of complaint. The construction itself had caused a lot of problems and now there are frequently 30 to 50 students or other young people making a noise and smoking outside on the pavements. Residents have been in touch with Stay Club by sending emails including videos but got no response at all. They have complained to Camden and again had no satisfaction. There apparently is an advertisement for a disco on the website although it is not clear if this is a public event which would require licensing.

Debby mentioned a potential development of a 15 floor tower block on the corner of Grafton Road and Wilkin Street. There is no official planning application made yet but it would be very oppressive and dominating of the area. West Kentish Town have an active group who are already opposing it strongly.

Martin asked about the Pizza Express long running saga.

Paul informed us that a resident in number one Prince of Wales Road can see down into the the building site and reports that the builders have started work including small hydraulic cranes. This is necessary because the facades are being preserved.

There are two planning permissions in existence – one for nine flats plus a shop, and one for 12 flats plus a cinema. The general information is that there has been some interest in what will be a very small cinema and it is likely they will go with the second plan.

It was raised that there is a plan for a cinema on the Hawley Wharf development and there was discussion as to whether this represented competition.

Debby mentioned the Hawley Wharf 50 licensing applications and we were told by Councillor Meric Apak that the licences has in fact already been granted. These include two restaurants with opening hours well below the framework hours and the licences have been heavily conditioned.

There was discussion about the fact that the 50 licensing applications include 25 premises licences and 25 “shadow licences“ which run in parallel and can apparently be used by the freeholder in the event that the licensee ceases to run the premises.

3. Safer Neighbourhood Team Panel
John told the meeting that this is a consultation panel that occurs every two or three months for local people to assist the police with information and with deciding priorities. The priority has remained antisocial behaviour for many years, especially on the estates. He told us that the Inkerman area has very low levels of antisocial behaviour compared with the rest of Camden.

The recent increase in crime relates to theft from vehicles. Although this occurs towards the northern end of Kentish Town it is worth people being aware that if they have remote locking on their cars and they leave their car keys near the front of their homes there are devices that car thieves can use to activate the remote controls and therefore open the cars and steal from them.

He also told us about the organised street beggars and referred us to the story in the Camden New Journal, reporting that effectively gang masters drop off a number of beggars with standard cardboard signs to collect money which is then taken from them by the gang master. These are in addition to some genuine local beggars.

The police are attempting to trace the van that delivers and collect these people and in connection with that, and any other antisocial behaviour witnessed, John asked people to keep the police informed and, if it can be done safely, to take photographs.

John expressed our appreciation to the police for the fact they put in an appearance at the Alma St Fair although thankfully there was no incident.

4. Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum
Paul introduced the subject of the very major development planned on the Murphy site at the top of our area, just beyond the railway line and behind the O2 Forum. This is a huge area of 6.5 hectares.

KTNF has been in discussions with Murphys for almost 7 years so it was disappointing that the public meetings were announced with so little notice and was so inadequately leafleted.

However three people from KTNF met with the directors of Murphy who were there in a 12 strong team including their PR consultants and it was Paul’s impression that Murphys were very disappointed with the efforts of the PR department In publicising the event.

Murphy has indicated that they were currently consulting on very broad principles and that more detailed plans would be produced in the autumn with further consultation.

The general plan does in fact follow the principles laid down in the Neighbourhood Plan which was the result of so much work by the Forum. It is a mixed use development with residential and employment with small and medium size businesses. Some of the residential will be affordable and family based three bed units. There is a plan for a Green Park area as well as creating a link up to Hampstead Heath.

The Murphys headquarters will remain on the site but a lot of the less valuable uses such as storage and gravel tips will be moved.

Martin said that he was shocked and disappointed at the consultation which was vague, unclear and badly explained and he thought was done simply in order to tick the box for consultation. He asked why it was not possible for a more unified approach to be taken on both sides of the railway line to include Regis Road.

Paul explained that Regis Road is in fact held by 15 separate owners whereas Murphys have control of the whole of their site.

Camden’s framework document governs possible developments on both sites and in the autumn will incorporate more detail from the Neighbourhood Plan.

The question was raised about the extent of the site and we were told that Murphys have a website and so does KTNF.

Charles raised the question of who owns the Regis Road area because people parking to collect items from the post office have been given penalties. The answer appears to be the Asphaltic company.

Paul mentioned Raglan house which Camden are intending to sell. There was planning permission for five flats but that appears to have lapsed and it is being re-marketed. One developer has been particularly interested and may be able to buy it and convert into six homes of about 1000 sq ft. each, maintaining the facade. He has been consultative.

David raised the question of whether there was an obligation to achieve best price at any cost as that would encourage over development. Councillor Apak confirmed it was a legal duty to achieve the best sale price. David made the point that a very strong indication that planning permission would not be granted for overdevelopment might depress value to the extent that we would achieve more of what we wanted.

The Santander bank site is now being worked on and will be yet another charity shop – the British Heart Foundation.

The HSBC site is being opened as “Creams“ selling ice cream is and cakes.

The health food shop “Naturally“ has closed.

There was discussion about why the George pub has closed so suddenly.

Mary asked about the bed and breakfast premises at the bottom of Grafton Road with big ugly signs and was told that planning permission would be needed and it is possible to establish whether that has been granted.

5. Independent Elders
Debby mentioned the Independent Elders group who meet every couple of months. The group is open to anybody, working or not and the age range is roughly 55 upwards.

The next event is a visit to a stately home in West London. People are invited to email us if they wish to join that specific mailing list.

6. Green Issues
Harriet mentioned a dispute at the Bassett Street garden where there are long established mini allotments of raised beds. A lot of the local community including the Bangladeshi community have been involved, but the council seem to be planning to evict them and give the garden area to the neighbouring block of flats.

This is mentioned also in the Camden New Journal and the plan would clash with the general and growing consensus of all the need to increase green spaces in London, as backed by the mayor.

Dilip knows more about this but was not able to come to this meeting. Further information will be provided by email to members.

Dilip is also involved with an initiative at Monmouth House. Mel, who has been very dynamic in setting up the tenants association, is also involved. The plan is for the tenants to plant trees and shrubs in the area around the blocks.

Don told us that next Saturday there would be a working group on the Holmes Road garden, which is also a community garden, spreading mulch. People are invited to attend with spade or shovel.

The question of bins in Willes Road was raised. They have been reduced from three and two down to one which is sometimes in the wrong place. The explanation from Camden is that they were being filled with “the wrong sort of rubbish.“

Debby said that she would contact the necessary people to raise this point and Councillor Apak recommended that we contact Richard Bradbury.

7. AOB
Rosemary asked if anybody in the area could offer work experience opportunities to young people and Debby said this would be circulated. John said that the Toy Project he is involved with takes work placement students.

Steph said that she worked for the owners of Camden Lock market and they have a number of opportunities for work experience students.

Martin raised the question of the financial state of the Association and Paul said that it was healthy largely thanks to the support of Camden Town Brewery who supply the beer for the Fair at trade price so we make a reasonable profit which subsidises The Fair. There are sufficient funds for the usual Christmas AGM and the date will be fixed soon.

John mentioned the art project at the sports centre with pictures now on the walls and on the bottom of the pool.

Graeme Caul raised the question of what progress had been made with the suggestion that the area have a standardised roof extension agreement with Camden so that families could remain in the Area. He mentioned the fact that school roles are falling because families are moving out for lack of space.

Debby reported that there had been a group who had pushed this hard but got a complete refusal from the planning department.

Paul said that there are national policies for conservation areas but David pointed out that some conservation areas have negotiated these sorts of agreements. He suggested that the planning department was not going to change its philosophy just in response to individuals seeking those changes; it would need a major political decision by Councillors and Counsellor Apak said that he will be raising this with the director of planning.

Debby mentioned that a neighbour in Alma St was having building works done and they needed to move out for between six and nine months and was looking for somewhere to rent a three bedroom property for a very nice family.

8. Next meeting
This will be the AGM, date to be fixed in late November/early December.

The meeting ended at 8.15 and people continued talking thereafter.