Ham&High letters: Henrietta Barnett, 100 Avenue Road, CS11, Ladies Pond, Northwood plan

Questions from the floor at the Henrietta Barnett School's expansion meeting on Thursday. Picture: P

Questions from the floor at the Henrietta Barnett School's expansion meeting on Thursday. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

More space unnecessary at Henrietta

Ivor Hall, Erskine Hill, Hampstead, writes:

As a resident of Hampstead Garden Suburb I, and other residents, attended Henrietta Barnet Girls School (HBGS) on Thursday, July 12 to hear a presentation by the headmistress of HBGS and their consultant architect of the schools plans for the extension of numbers and additional buildings.

They hope to apply for a tranche of the Selective School Expansion Fund money through government for the possible “expansion” of selective schools in the UK.

At the meeting I learnt the school intends to increase the number of pupils to 1,050, up 35 per cent. I cannot see how either the site or its environs can take this particularly as so many pupils are trucked in from all over north London. I also learnt that only 31pc of pupils at the school are from within Barnet.

The HBGS intends to construct a further five new buildings to accommodate this uplift.

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Why does the school need further acommodation when they built two two-storey wings either side of the Institute building and facing Central Square in 2008-10?. The 2008 plans submitted for planning permission showed 12 new classrooms. Access to the new classrooms are by corridor. The style of these blocks was in the house style of the architects which failed to respect the Lutyens designed listed buildings around Central Square. Yet with all this new accommodation their number of pupils between 2008 (709 pupils) and 2017 (776 pupils) resulted in a mere increase of 68!

Expansion plan masks ‘unacceptable’ fact lack of pupils are from area

Melissa Brady-Dant, full address supplied, writes:

I read your article regarding the expansion of Henrietta Barnet School and I find the entire saga utterly awful.

lf the school is successful and to capacity within the confines of the area in which it is built, then it is completing its mission and should not put any further pressure upon the residence of the area. The solutions are clear: to build another school in another area; and entirely change the admissions structure to cater for local north London girls.

It is totally unacceptable that less than 35 per cent of the student body come from within the borough, and that only 2pc of the girls live locally. It is totally unacceptable that the history of the school, which was the foundation of its success, is being manipulated and stretched outside any cohesive meaning within its current circumstances.

Your article laid out directly what is stopping clear thinking on this issue - politics.

It is entirely political that no one within the school will admit to their responsibility to the local community and, rather, are trying to implement a social engineering programme within the wider area of the country without a mandate or support of the local community.

It seems the residents are receiving very little indeed, from Henrietta Barnet, and it is certainly time they did.

Do not build up, change from within and build another school.

Campaign victory for residents

Kate Fairhurst, Swiss Cottage Conservatives, writes:

A collective sigh of relief resonated through Swiss Cottage last Thursday as the Construction Management Plan for the development of 100 Avenue Road was rejected by Camden Council’s Planning Committee, which is testament to the years of opposition to this ill-considered proposal.

As a candidate for the Swiss Cottage ward in May’s local election, I understand only too well the deeply held concerns of local residents about the current proposals for the site, in particular the plans to direct heavy lorries down Winchester Road. Last Thursday, committee members were clear that the impact on the local area had not been properly spelled out and that Winchester Road is simply unsuitable for this level of traffic, not to mention the adverse effects on Swiss Cottage Market and Swiss Cottage Open Space.

The proposal began to unravel when Camden Conservatives’ leader Oliver Cooper forensically demonstrated that neither the developer Essential Living nor the council officers had looked fully at an alternative proposal that would reduce harm to the area. Under the section 106 agreement that Essential Living signed as a condition of receiving planning permission, the developer must demonstrate that no possible plan would do less harm.

However, it is the residents who deserve the greatest credit to stopping this proposal in its tracks. Janine Sachs spoke powerfully about the scheme’s negative impact on the area and dozens of residents showed up in person to the town hall to show their opposition. Save Swiss Cottage, CRASH and many others have been fighting tirelessly for years on this project and they will always have local Conservatives’ full support.

Hopefully, this will put an end to the proposal to use Winchester Road, and will mean residents’ substantive concerns are addressed. When it is next heard by the planning committee, as it will be in a few months, it is vital that councillors reject it again if Swiss Cottage Open Space, the market, Winchester Road residents, and the local environment are not properly protected. The plan needs full reappraisal and rewriting, not just a sticking plaster.

We must challenge CS11 alarmists

Steven Edwards, Highgate, full address supplied, writes:

It feels as if a breath of fresh air is wafting through the pages of the Ham&High.

And there is a little irony in the fact that the recent respite offered by Avenue Road (referred to by Simon Munk last week) for those cycling, walking or breathing, has been provided by the combined impacts of temporary works of Thames Water and the arrival in the capital of one Donald Trump.

In Victorian London, the “Great Stink”, where effluent poured into the Thames became the overriding health problem of the day, action was taken in the formation of a unitary power (superseding seven of the eight authorities that had managed London’s sewers since Henry VIII’s time) to resolve the issue by channelling sewage away from the city.

As referred to in Mr Munk’s excellent article last week, the imposition of a closure to circulating through-traffic in Regents Park, (even in conjunction with the Avenue Road closure) has not, resulted in the kind of bedlam and breakdown that alarmists have been allowed to propogate for too long (and bereft of a single suggestion for any alternative).

Another waft of fresh air, in the previous H&H from your editor, Ramzy Alwakeel, states that “where displaced traffic is an issue, a scheme has to be made more comprehensive” (not reduced, as is the currently sad case in the remains of CS11.

I would suggest then that a granting of emergency powers is needed to overcome endless rounds of consultations that, even when passed, are dumped on by a few local opponents, whorefusing to acknowledge the evidence. The fact of the matter is that where large scale schemes have been introduced to deal with through-traffic, the resolution is as positive as that experienced recently on a smaller scale with Regent’s Park and Avenue Road.

Nearly everyone knows someone who would rather walk or cycle “if only traffic weren’t so bad”. Such schemes to enable this could be rolled out even on a trial basis. The transformation required would become evident. Any required adjustments and tweaks could be made before firming up the infrastructure. In the case of Regent’s Park though, there are few schemes requiring as little action in order to effect such a broadly felt and important social change.

Is it really acceptable when we know that active transportation is a most fantastic way of building in health-boosting, well-being-increasing exercise into our daily lives, that we receive warnings NOT to do so…because of the air quality?

Is it really acceptable for car users to be allowed to “carry on as you were!”?

Pond helps me escape bullies

J Jones, full address supplied, writes:

I am an elderly lady with a weight problem and I have used the Ladies Pond during the summer since I was 18-years-old.

It has been a sanctuary for people like me, away from the bullying and cat-calling, of usually men and small boys, in public pools. I love swimming and I want to continue to go there, secure in the knowledge that the women only pond is a safe space.

I do not want to come across a man in the changing room who has decided, for whatever reason, that he no longer wants to be male.

The pond is also used by children and people of orthodox religions who, surely, have rights as well? I would suggest that anyone who has “gender” issues uses the mixed ponds at Southend Green. That would seem to be appropriate.

Have your say on Northwood plan

A Hornsey Lane resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

Building flats upon the roof of Northwood Hall ignores 28 homes with people living in them on the floor immediately beneath.

Some have families with young or pre-school age children. All will have a building site on their ceiling for two years. Therefore: constant very loud noise, vibrations, dust, drilling, sanding and any number of safety risks.

Noise and vibrations hour after hour will have a shattering effect on children’s welfare, health and cognitive development.

Life will be utterly miserable for them in long holidays and every school-day arriving back to a building site continuing until 6pm. It’s practically child cruelty. Likewise, residents in several floors beneath will have to endure this intolerable disruption for a development they do not want and will gain nothing from. In disregarding the health, safety and welfare of residents, this application is inhumane. If Haringey Council passes it, they fail in their duty of care to the public.

Please can as many people, residents or non-residents alike, find this application on Haringey’s website and oppose it? (NB the developers are playing the old trick of waiting until peak summer holiday-time to submit the application, hoping people will be away and miss the deadline).

If you’re a Northwood parent, fight this development tooth and nail, for your children’s sake. See this application for what it is: a selfish, insensitive, cynical, cruel, unsafe plan by a bunch of developers.

Neglected wetland needs attention

Roger Tichborne, full address supplied, writes:

The Mill Hill Liberal Democrats are calling for a meeting of the Barnet Council Urgency Committee to address the issue of the neglect of local wetlands in Mill Hill, which has resulted in two important local habitats drying out and silting up.

Darlands Lake is at the centre of a large nature reserve. Previously it had a thriving ecosystem with carp and other fish. It is used as a refuge by migratory birds and as a watering hole for all manner of local wildlife. Last year a scheme was discussed at Barnet Council to outsource the management to a consortium of local groups, including Totteridge Manor Association and the Mill Hill Preservation Society. It is unclear what has become of these plans, however the inaction has lead to the total silting up of the site.

Angel Pond, a local beauty spot on Mill Hill High Street, has been overrun with an invasive pond weed. An abortive attempt was made in 2016 to clear the pond, but no follow up work was done and now the pond is totally choked and virtually completely dried out.

The council needs to convene the urgency committee, inviting local stakeholders to put together a plan now, to ensure that these important habitats are protected. The council admitted that Darlands has been neglected for 20 years, now the situation is critical. Angel Pond needs an expert in invasive plants to devise a proper strategy. Both waterways are now both unsightly and smelly. This must be resolved as a matter of urgency.

Devolution of Govia essential

Andrew Dismore, London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, writes:

Calls for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) services to be devolved to TfL have never been stronger, or more urgent.

Commuters in Barnet and Camden are quite rightly at the end of their tether with the continued delays and cancellations to train services at the hands of Govia and their catastrophic handling of recent timetable changes.

Last week, it has been revealed that the latest iteration of the new GTR timetable has led to the cancellation of 200 trains per day. With this schedule set to stay in place until December, Londoners have been left with the grim prospect of further disruption to tens of thousands more services.

The new deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, has wasted no time in demanding the operator is stripped of its licence to make way for TfL to take the reins.

The ball is now in the government’s court. It must listen properly to the thousands of beleaguered commuters left at the mercy of the GTR franchise’s routine incompetence, and get the ball-rolling for devolution.

How will mayor fund the Met?

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, full address supplied, writes:

I presume Mr Dismore’s outright refusal to contemplate a referendum was with the authority of the mayor. If it was, then the mayor must now explain to Londoners how he intends to keep them safe.

Crime is out of control as is well recognised in the media. The cuts to the Met’s funding has led to a tsunami of moped enabled crime which alone is taking an inordinate amount of resources from the Met to address. It is no wonder that the Met is taking a hard look at what it can and cannot deliver to Londoners regarding other crimes and deciding to ignore anti-social behaviour to focus on violent and more urgent types of crime.

The Met is only now beginning to turn the tide in its favour regarding moped enabled crime because of some extremely overdue legislation placing the risk to the criminal’s health on the criminal themselves as opposed to on the officer trying to catch and arrest them.

Many of you would not know that the threshold to be guilty of dangerous driving is the same for a police officer as it is for a member of the public.

The failure of the mayor to secure adequate funding for the Met means dedicated police officers are unable to do the job to the level to which they aspire. The Met - who police by the consent of Londoners - know what it means to do a good job and to strive to take pride in their work. They are not being allowed to achieve that level of personal satisfaction because of the current state of play on funding.

Burglaries are a challenge and with officers overworked and under-resourced, they struggle effectively to stop burglaries or apprehend the perpetrators. Zero burglaries are solved unless the Met get lucky and cases are closed almost as soon as they are reported.

In the past proactive units and CID or the Beat Crimes Unit would have taken on such crimes without quarrel and, more importantly, the really invisible and now decimated “civvies” would have spotted relevant patterns within a week or two. The reduction of eyes and ears is having its impact as Londoners suffer.

You will not find the comments or laments of police officers in your pages. They are gagged from defending themselves or from explaining who are the real culprits of their predicament.

I will, therefore, not stop informing the public of the failure of the mayor in giving London the Met it deserves and of the reality of the state of policing in our capital today.

Perhaps Mr Dismore can inform us of what proposals the mayor has to improve the state of crime and funding of the Met so that the dreadful cuts which are approaching do not have to be made.

I do not exculpate the government from this fiasco. The cutting of funding is criminal and those responsible in the government must be called to account. However, the mayor is the head of the Met, its CEO, and he must carry the can. We need action from Mayor Khan and we need it now.

Brexit risks more societal division

Steve Mackey, Victoria, Australia, formerly Archway Road, Highgate, writes:

Hard Brexiteers are set to deepen poverty and strife among those already disadvantaged.

But Remainers need to acknowledge that millions were left behind by an approach to Europe which favoured the already better off.

Unless Remainers admit to this injustice and pledge European policies which would be more equitable for everyone they won’t win a second vote. Handwringing and scaremongering is not enough.