100AR, the Ponds, Haverstock Hill cycling, education and Nazanin Ratcliffe
- Credit: Edie Raff
And this reviled behemoth returns
Peter Symonds, Canfield Gardens, Hampstead, writes:
It comes as no surprise to those of us who spent several years fighting Essential Living’s (EL) plans for a 24-storey tower block at Swiss Cottage, to hear them now claim that they’re no longer able to afford to include the promised 36 affordable housing units in their development for the site at 100 Avenue Road (Ham&High). They’ve made similar claims on numerous other multi-million-pound developments, and it was clear from the moment they won their appeal against Camden’s original refusal of this particular project that they were determined to dismantle as many as possible of the conditions of their planning permission as might minimise their vast profits.
Chastened by having to bear the costs of that appeal and alarmed at the prospect of throwing good money after bad, Camden’s planning committee, chaired by Heather Johnson, meekly capitulated to every one of EL’s subsequent applications for penny-pinching economies, and disturbing alterations to the original planning permission.
Even these, we are asked to believe, couldn’t ensure that EL’s reviled behemoth would afford them a big enough profit, and construction was paused last summer at the height of the pandemic. Any hope that it might resume with a more human-scaled development has been shattered by EL’s latest announcement that, if it starts construction again, it will have to be without the social benefits of any affordable homes for local people - one of the very conditions promised by Essential Living to ensure that the then Tory minister for the environment, Greg Clark, would back the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to allow their appeal.
Few of us will ever forget how disdainful EL were of every single local concern raised throughout the entire planning process, or the farce of their “so-called” consultation process, so their latest demand comes as no surprise. The surprise will come if Camden’s planning committee finally finds the guts to stand up to this unscrupulous and mendacious developer and refuses this iniquitous proposal.
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Janine Sachs, chair of Save Swiss Cottage, writes:
Last June, the offshore developers of 100 Avenue Road, Essential Living (EL) dramatically “paused” the construction of their 24-storey skyscraper due to “unprecedented circumstances”. The situation has changed and last week EL, now pleading financial difficulties, have submitted two new planning applications.
Application 2021/0025/P proposes to replace the 34 affordable rental units which had been approved by the secretary of state on appeal with their private (expensive) flats. EL’s excuse, their viability report states, that if “it is unviable to pursue such a scheme” then “the scheme is unlikely to proceed”. Application 021/0022/P is to replace the approved brickwork with less expensive, and cheaper-looking cladding.
To view/object, type Application No 2021/0025/P or 2021/0022/P in the Beta search field here.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, copying in email@example.com with the application number in the subject heading.
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Swiss Cottage Open Space Consultation: In their scheme, EL had agreed to fund the redevelopment of our open space and Camden have proposed three options to remove almost half the green space in favour of an extended Hampstead Theatre “urban” terrace and a new children’s play area. Trees are to be removed from the top part and new ones planted at the bottom - where the early evening sunshine still remains and everywhere else is cast in the shadow of the tower. Hedges and the grass mound in front of the library are also to go.
The drawings don’t show what is planned parallel to the building. Will the open space become more of an amenity for customers of restaurants and cafes and nightlife rather than a peaceful, enjoyable place for residents of all ages to enjoy? Can we not propose other options?
To view/object see especially “Additional materials”.
The consultations end on February 14.
Alix Lemkin and colleagues at campaign group Forum ’71 writes:
We sympathise with the Heath Committee’s outrage at the fact that the City of London proposes to unilaterally reduce their budget by 12 per cent. Although nobody likes to have their budget cut, not being consulted adds insult to injury.
We at Forum ‘71, a coalition of swimmers in the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds, are similarly infuriated. The Heath Management Committee conferred with their consultative committee (which includes a variety of interested parties, ranging from the Heath and Hampstead Society to the RSPB) about their decision to impose swimming charges on the Heath – but then ignored their unanimous recommendation to improve the pre-existing (since 2005) voluntary payment scheme.
The 1871 Hampstead Heath Act specified that Hampstead Heath should be “forever remain...open, unenclosed and unbuilt upon” for the health and wellbeing of the public.
Now, on the 150th anniversary of the Act, and in the current pandemic and associated mental and physical health crisis, we need our green and open spaces more than ever. They need to be widely available to everybody (not just those able to pay), and more people need to be able to use the bathing ponds, not fewer. Surely this is the time to invest in the Heath, not cut back.
Finally, we believe it is vital for those managing the Heath to provide transparent financial data, to enable us, the public, to understand their expenditure and what budget cuts might mean for our Heath.
The wrong lane
Brian Benjamin, Queens Crescent, Kentish Town, writes:
The cancellation of the Haverstock Hill cycle path scheme is extremely welcome especially to the more vulnerable of your readers.
I wonder how many of those who read the proposal realised that it involved the removal of most, probably all, traffic islands which are such a boon for pedestrians. They will have read that the cycle lane scheme would have made walking easier and safer. That is bunkum. Nowhere is the removal of islands which is such a crucial feature of the scheme mentioned in the documents describing the proposals. Perhaps Cllr Adam Harrison would respond using your pages, to explain whether that important omission was by accident or design. If design, it demonstrated an intention to dissemble to voters. If accident, it was incompetence.
Perhaps those of us who live on or close to Prince of Wales Road could have a similar decision reversed and regain the ability to cross the road safely by removing those cycle paths and having the traffic islands returned.
Keith Martin, Friern Park, Finchley, writes:
Some wise words were said on BBC Breakfast TV by a GP, directed to parents, teachers and children deprived of school as part of lockdown: Be patient, be kind.
The mantra accompanying statements and advice to the nation by statesmen such as Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, might usefully be amended to: “Be patient, be kind, save lives.”
This advice applies not only to the public but also to the authorities and politicians such as these three, and all the leaders of public opinion. The message of hope must cover not only overcoming the virus but also restoring culture, education and morale to the lives of our children and their parents.
The next generation
Doug Crawford, Camden, full address supplied, writes:
Covid highlighted the desperate situation in education funding and then made it worse. We now fear for the sanity of the next generation.
After more and more cuts, schools now get 10 per cent less cash per pupil than when the Conservatives came to power. Covid has made this worse and the government still hasn’t given enough promised laptops for children to continue their education online. More than a million children still don’t have some form of computer at home.
The government refused to provide proper free school meals until Marcus Rashford spoke! And the inadequate food parcel we saw in the press shows how poor their response is! Three million children now live in poverty in the UK.
So, I ask your readers: Speak out. Even if our own children are well fed and educated, we must remember that so many others are not. Having a generation of under-fed and under-educated kids is both unfair and will surely lead to more crime and civil unrest.
As The 99% Organisation says, our children are set to be the first generation in living memory who are poorer than their parents. We need to make sure this isn’t the case. Governments are elected to protect present and future generations - we need to speak out.
Please, write to your MP to make it change. We need to let them know that this isn’t acceptable. Let’s put our children’s education at the top of the list for action.
Dennis Bradley, secretary, Hornsey and Wood Green Group, Amnesty International, writes:
Many of your readers will have been following the distressing case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman from West Hampstead who has been detained in Iran for nearly five years after a grossly unfair trial.
Nazanin is just one UK-Iranian dual-national targeted by the Iranian authorities in recent years.
Another is Anoosheh Ashoori, a 66-year-old former engineer subjected to a sham trial that involved ‘confessions’ extracted under torture.
Amnesty International is working closely with both families to press the UK government to do more to secure Nazanin’s and Anoosheh’s release. The former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has recently criticised the government for not doing more to help them. He’s right, and this local north London Amnesty group will be pressing for more action in the coming weeks.
Readers can stay in touch with Amnesty’s campaign for Nazanin and Anoosheh by clicking here , where they can also watch a very moving 10-minute film with the families made shortly before Christmas.