August 1 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Camden’s housing chief has pledged to save a much-loved community garden facing demolition by the council if the Labour administration is returned to power at next month’s election.
Members of campaign group Save Our Priory Urban Green Space delivered a petition with 1,400 signatures to the full council meeting last Thursday, urging members to save the community garden beside the railway line off Belsize Road, West Hampstead.
Residents transformed the space from a fly-tipping hot spot into a garden about nine years ago, but in 2012 the council accused the group of “trespassing” and ordered its demolition.
After hearing a deputation from campaigner John Goodman, Cllr Julian Fulbrook, cabinet member for housing, conceded the garden’s destruction would be “tragic” and said the council would work with campaigners to save it.
Mr Goodman, who helped transform the space, told councillors: “It’s been made out of years of built-up soil and years of fly-tipping of dumped builders’ waste.
“After a lot of hard work the garden took shape and became the paradise it is now.”
He said the garden had become a haven for a variety of wildlife and was used by children as a playground and by adults for gardening and socialising.
In 2012, the council threatened campaigners with a bill of more than £4,600 if they did not return the garden to its stated use as a “service road” but suspended enforcement action after the launch of the campaign.
Mr Goodman added: “This community is very concerned that demolishing the garden will allow it to return to its former state.”
In response, Cllr Fulbrook said: “The default setting of this council under a Labour administration is to say ‘yes’ to any reasonable proposal for greening and you have put a reasonable proposal forward in this deputation and we will talk to you about that.
“I would say it would be tragic to lose the little space that you have carved out on this land. We will look forward to working with you and I hope it will be us.”