Published: 18 February, 2016
• WHAT a pity the Stop the Blocks! trio have to resort to abuse to try to make a point – they seem to object to any local groups having differing views to their own (Letters, February 11)..
Recently those of us who attended the AGM of the Neighbourhood Development Forum were horrified at their disruption of the meeting. Afterwards they pursued its chair with emails. Now they want to lay about WHAT, West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group.
Our record on local development and promoting local infrastructure is second to none. WHAT objected to the heights in the Ballymore development and the limited social housing when the Lymington Road group weren’t interested. Maybe it was too far away for them.
We have been running a campaign to get a lift installed at West Hampstead tube to accommodate increased numbers interchanging and living here. Our 1,500-signature petition was recently presented at City Hall . Now we are pursuing, through freedom of information requests, data on passenger numbers here and at stations which have had lifts installed.
On health facilities, we have been leading the demands for information and action. Your correspondents seem to have missed our December public meeting at which representatives from Camden Clinical Care Commissioning Group told us what is planned, including the expansion of West Hampstead medical centre, the non use of the Ballymore facility and possible expansion of the library for a GP surgery. Anyone who wants to follow this up can check out the report of the meeting on our website (www.whatnw6.org.uk/).
We also recently met members of the GLA regeneration committee, invited to West Hampstead by Cllr Phil Rosenberg, and pressed on them the need for infrastructure planning in the intensification area and West Hampstead more generally.
Most importantly on 156 West End Lane, we have focused on the disclosure of affordable rent levels. This a key issue, rightly highlighted by Terry Flanagan in your Letters pages , for those on the housing waiting list and for the planning application. Are the flats going to be let at a level people can afford to pay?
A2Dominion plan to develop 78 affordable units on the site, of which 38 will be affordable for rent including 20 family sized units of three/four bedrooms. They told us the rents for these larger units would be much lower than market rents for equivalent accommodation and it is on this basis that discussions have taken place with the council. However, representatives of A2Dominion have been unwilling to commit further. In a response to a member of our committee at the beginning of December, their representative told us that the council will have 100 per cent nomination rights but that rent levels cannot be anticipated. They may not be set until 2020 when the definition of affordable may have been changed yet again by government.
WHAT doesn’t think this is good enough. To be meaningful the statement of viability that A2Dominion submits with their planning application will need to specify what rents they consider they will receive. We would like councillors on the development control committee to insist this information is made public before a decision is taken.
Under freedom of information guidance developers may normally keep their viability statements confidential. However, in this particular case we believe the forecast affordable rent levels are at the heart of the application and it is therefore in the public interest that they are disclosed.
Too often we have seen developers change the nature of a development once they have received overall permission. We think it vital that the issue of rent levels is nailed at this stage.Yet, strangely, the crusading trio don’t seem to be interested in this key issue.
Will they support our call for disclosure?
Or are they more interested in posturing and bullying than effective action?
Hillfield Road, NW6