Belsize Residents Association celebrates 40 years
�Belsize Residents’ Association (BRA) is celebrating its 40th birthday this year and members held a special afternoon garden party on Sunday to look back on what the organisation has achieved.
It has been at the heart of campaigning to preserve the environmental, historical and cultural heritage of Belsize Park.
Averil Nottage, 62, has been a member of the BRA for four years, and carried out research into the association’s achievements.
She said: “The process of looking back was interesting. It shows how much BRA has achieved. It’s made a big difference to people in this area. It took us 26 years to ban estate agents boards for example.”
The association was originally called the Three Roads Association when it was formed in 1971.
It was born out of a movement opposed to the development of a motorway ring road around central London that proposed to divide Belsize in two and destroy a vast swathe of Victorian houses in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It is widely acknowledged that the group’s campaign helped save the area from being ruined.
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Other highlights have included helping the development of social housing, preserving heritage buildings, saving the local library, and reinstating a post office in the area.
In the 70s, BRA set up Belpark Housing Co-operative to provide more affordable housing for local people in need. They worked with squatters occupying houses in Haverstock Hill to gain funding to stop them from being demolished and restore them as housing for single people.
In the 1980s, the BRA started a campaign to eliminate hoards of estate agents boards from the Belsize Conservation Area.
In the 80s and 90s the group was successful in its campaign to keep Belsize Library open.
In the noughties, the group campaigned for the reinstatement of a post office, following widespread closures in the area. Success was achieved after a sub post office branch opened in Thornton’s Budgens.
Future plans include a new notice board on Haverstock Hill which will keep locals abreast of BRA’s developments.
n More than 550 households and around 800-900 people are members of BRA. Visit www.belsize.org.uk.