Letter: Belsize Streatery

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Busi

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business Association - Credit: Archant

Outrage at Streatery extension

Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, address provided, writes:

The decision by Camden Council to consider a further extension of the Streatery at Belsize Terrace (Application Number 2021/2812/TC) has outraged some local residents for several reasons.  

First, the terrace is a unique public space that belongs to the public, rather than to a few private businesses.  

Second, the only justification for the Streatery in the first place was that indoor dining was not previously permitted. 

We have been generous with our public space when needed and sharing it to support local businesses. Now that they have their indoor space back, why do we need to still lend our only local public space where children used to play and the community used to meet freely without having to pay for a seat? 

Third, the restaurants are already occupying our pavements with separate tables and chairs licenses forcing pedestrians, people with prams or dogs, and wheelchair users to the street. Having these local restaurants occupying our terrace also is even less justified.

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Fourth, the applicant, the Belsize Village Estate CIC a company linked to Belsize Village Business Association, does not represent Belsize Village and its residents, has no authority to market the village and should not be allowed to take power over our community or decide our future.

The outdoor eating area in action

The outdoor eating area in action - Credit: Belsize Village Business Association

More crucially, what is at stake with the Streatery extension consultation is the character of Belsize Terrace. Over the past six months the Streatery has converted a predominantly residential public space to a private al fresco terrace without a thorough evaluation of consequences and implications for the area and its residents, ie the occupation of both the terrace and our pavements as the alfresco experience attracts customers from all over North West London, higher car traffic and noise, lack of parking space for local residents, CCTV monitoring, overloaded rubbish containers overnight and buskers appearing often without invitation. 

Not only are all these issues going to get worse if the Streatery is extended, but an extension would also attract even more restaurants to Belsize Village and the issues would balloon into a huge problem in the future.

Granting an extension will cement the conversion of our precious Belsize Terrace from a lively residential square to a commercial high traffic dining area resembling a busy high street. To claim back our square, our previous free space framed by benches, and to not let the character of Belsize Village change we should all write to the council rejecting the Streatery extension.

Fighting the Streatery extension is even more pressing now that more consultations are likely to resurface. The Conservatives’ newsletter promotes a new initiative initiated apparently by the Belsize Village Business Association to transform the Village into a high street by promoting its commercialisation under the cover of improving the external appearance of local shops. We are not a high street nor want to be one. 

The Conservatives seem to excessively support local businesses neglecting the interests and ignoring the views of local residents which are ultimately the voters.

All this represents massive change, happening behind our back under the cover of the pandemic. Resist the conversion of our village to a high Street and oppose the Streatery extension consultation (Application Number 2021/2812/TC) by Camden Council. 

Friends of Belsize Village is residents committed to preserving the public open space on Belsize Terrace.