Queen's Wood, Streatery, O R Tambo Recreation Ground and Octavia Foundation
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Respect the 'wood-wide-web' of trees
Sharon Lytton, Cromwell Avenue, Highgate, writes:
Haringey are carrying out a public consultation on a major flood management scheme for Queen’s Wood.
As with most public consultations this looks to be a mere formality since the council are all but committed to a disastrous radical upheaval of the ancient woodland. The council simply don’t get that once you destroy ancient woodland it is no longer ancient woodland. The term actually means something - it has special and rare ecological value which cannot be replaced. The council are supposed to be the guardian of this particular ancient woodland called Queen’s Wood.
Guardian means to look after in the best interests of someone or something.
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Haringey have already ignored the very strong objections of the wholly dedicated and deeply experienced Friends of Queen’s Wood. They excluded from the long running process key knowledgeable groups such as conservation area advisory committees.
The council had better beware as its record on environmental devastation is not good, which has already caused widespread upset. Many mourn the demise of effective local democracy as councils are deprived of traditional government funding for basic social, planning and environmental functions. The dreadful state of affairs cannot however mean Haringey can just sign away our invaluable natural heritage. Why can’t Haringey be on the side of Queen’s Wood and respect the wood-wide-web of trees, soil, undergrowth, and wildlife? The council doesn’t have a clue with the amount of time it spends planning such misguided projects of destruction.
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Meanwhile government could stop posturing over climate change and start legislating and funding for protection of our mature trees, woods and all our natural heritage. Many thousands of people enjoy the Wood. If all say “no”, this senseless project may be stopped, and the council’s time and effort put into the desperately needed conservation work instead.
Robert Stephenson-Padron and Aya Khazaal, co-coordinators, Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA), write:
The beauty we have achieved in Belsize Village is something that should be universally celebrated.
Although formally initiated and operated by the Belsize Village Business Association - which we lead - the successful revitalisation of Belsize Village has been a cross-society effort: from Camden Council, local business and civil society.
Where we had business closures we now have talent and jobs. Where we had filth, we have cleanliness. Where we had desertion, we have life. Where we had isolation, we have community.
During this Easter season, it is fitting we reach out directly to the group, albeit small, who continue to use unkind tactics against the BVBA’s group of volunteers. Although we strongly disagree with your tactics, we invite you to join us in celebrating life in our beautified community. Some of the opposition have revealed to us the true reasons for their reservations: that some of our revitalisation projects - specifically our eurobins aimed at stopping fox induced rubbish leakages (for which they have been successful) - will harm local property prices.
This could not be further from the truth - a clean and vibrant community will not just attract business and customers but will attract new residents which will support property prices. The old rubbish-filled Belsize Terrace and business closures were not conducive to healthy property prices.
Not many high streets have been able to stave off impending death once they began to wither. In Belsize Village, we have. This is a success that is shared by everyone. The BVBA was established primarily to promote the Living Wage movement. Therefore our intentions in promoting economic well-being are not tied purely to business interests, but an inherent commitment to the common good. We are a business community of nearly all independent, family-run works of art. The BVBA works are therefore not the product of “big business” special interest but the products of the love of our work and the love we have for our community. We hope, after this dark pandemic, our love will be contagious.
Judith Nasatyr, Belsize Crescent, Belsize Park, wrote to Cllr Tom Simon, Belsize ward:
Thank you for seeking our views about the streatery. I have lived in Belsize Park since 1967. My late husband was a founding member of Belsize Residents’ Association and its first chairman. Some decades ago he drew up plans on behalf of BRA to close Belsize Terrace to traffic but it was strongly opposed by the local businesses who said they would lose custom if cars couldn’t park outside the shops and that benches would attract undesirables and street sleepers!
I was happy for the local restaurants to open the streatery while operating under Covid restrictions and would be happy for it to continue but with fewer outdoor tables once they can use their own indoor space. It might be an idea to locate them closer to their respective restaurants and perhaps cordon off the outdoor eating area.
My main reservation concerns attitude and some officiousness last year when local people who were not buying (and not sitting at tables) were treated as intruders. Belsize Terrace open space is for the use and benefit of all - the local community and the businesses and neither should dominate. It is a place where residents - many without access to outside space - can sit out in the sun on benches they don’t have to pay to use, watch people, enjoy the sunshine and social contact and where children can play and socialise. Many of we seniors have spent virtually a year without social contacts and would enjoy being among people. There is virtually no other public open space in Belsize where this can happen.
It would not be right for the restaurants to take over the space or for the local community to leave no space for diners. We ought to meet each other halfway and respect each other’s needs.
I never ate at the Streatery last year, though I attempted to a few times. It seemed chaotic; there was no information how it worked, no indication which tables “belonged” to which restaurant and no friendly host to explain.
I was appalled to see the bins put in their present position - they are an eyesore - but one wearies of complaining and not being considered and I turned a blind eye. It would be good if they were relocated. Although the bicycle stands were in place before the streatery they also detract from the space. Planters are a good idea but should be designed and managed properly. A bench encircling the tree would be a charming feature.
Closing Belsize Lane to traffic would just increase travel time and distance and push traffic onto surrounding roads.
Maureen Grayson (Ms), Baynes Mews, Belsize Park, writes:
Camden Council has surely a legal obligation to provide access to open spaces and amenities for all its residents.
No one, in the history of our area, would have ever opted to turn Belsize Terrace into yet another restaurant. There are currently 11 restaurants/cafes within the limited confines of this village. Who, in their right mind, would give preference to another private business venture over the needs of residents for a place in which to meet and relax and, most importantly, provide an essential space where children can play safely?
Many of us have lived happily over the years in this wonderful diverse and tolerant community. A mass of tables and chairs plus barricades of ugly and inappropriate planters is hardly “revitalisation”! The village has been a thriving affluent area since the 1980s and has been the home to a remarkable number of artists, musicians, and philosophers.
Could we not combine forces and share this space?
We are about to come out of lockdown. Many restrictions will be lifted and, hopefully, we can begin to rebuild our lives. I am personally offering my hand to reach out to everyone who wants use of our village open space. We each have our special skills, whether it be social media, horticulture, or just sound common sense.
I propose the idea for a “village green” (with some tables and chairs!) but, first and foremost, as a family green space. We have all experienced terrible loss over the past year. Let us rebuild together and make our community a place to be proud of.
Virginia, Belsize Park, full name and address supplied, writes:
I want to say how delighted my family and I are to be part of the Streatery community.
We’ve lived in this area for five years and prior to this project, the village didn’t have a life. It was mostly dirty and a place no one wanted to hang around. Now, thanks to the efforts of a few people from the community, it feels like home. It is inviting, the restaurants and shops have managed to survived, the little square is filled with joy, it brings families together. We are so happy it is coming back again.
Thanks for keeping Belsize village alive!
In a name
Betty Cairns, Victoria Road, Muswell Hill, writes:
Keith Gold’s letter (Consultation, March 26) did not surprise me.
If 87,976 consultation letters were hand-delivered, I certainly did not get one nor can I find anyone who did. The relevant council meeting speaks of “voting” by telephone or e-mail. What does sadden me is that, yet again, Haringey Council has completely ignored Oliver Tambo’s wife, Adelaide.
When, already president of the ANC, he fled South Africa for Lusaka his wife, with their two children, came to Muswell Hill - then began three decades of exile for them both.
During that time Adelaide Tambo acted as representative in Britain of her husband, president of the ANC and of her country. She was well known in those roles in various embassies in London, entertained supporters of the ANC cause and provided help and shelter for those fleeing South Africa. She also worked as a nurse at the Whittington Hospital and as a “bank” district nurse in Haringey.
During the years Adelaide was living and working in London her husband, Oliver Tambo, was travelling from country to country, seeking help for the ANC’s cause. Sadly he was only able to visit his family in Muswell Hill two or three times each year. When, at last, Nelson Mandela visited London he called Adelaide onto the platform and publicly thanked her for her for a lifetime of work for her country.
Here we have two people Oliver and Adelaide who both dedicated their lives to a great cause. Their work was different but of equal value. Haringey Council had a golden opportunity to honour Adelaide Tambo by naming the Recreation Ground for her. Instead they opted for yet another accolade for her husband. The only difference between these two great people seems to be one of gender. I cannot think that Oliver Tambo would have approved of that.
Tamsin Cogan, Octavia Foundation - which supports people affected by ill health, social isolation, low income or unemployment in central and west London - writes:
Our charity shop in South End Road is in need of clothing donations. Every penny of profit from our shops goes towards our life-changing work, from our befriending service for older and isolated members of the community to enriching employment and training opportunities for younger people.
From Thursday, April 15 we will be able to accept donations of pre-loved and unwanted items.
Donations can be dropped off at our shops during their new opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm, and Sundays from 11am to 4.30pm.
Raising vital funds for our community work, our charity shops sell an eclectic mix of quality pre-loved, designer and high-street, clothing and accessories.
We know they play an important role in sustaining communities and we look forward to welcoming back our much-valued customers.