The Independent London Newspaper
24th April 2017

We are still awaiting answers from the West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group

    Published: 25 February, 2016

    • WE would like to reiterate and re-ask the questions we posed to Virginia Berridge and the Labour Party-dominated committee of West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group (WHAT) in the hope that these will be answered second time around, rather than be met with another round of unwarranted abuse of the Save West Hampstead “Stop the Blocks!” campaign.

    WHAT are, notably, the only local group that submitted fawningly supportive comments to a planning proposal for what is publicly-owned land at 156 West End Lane (156WEL), while completely ignoring the damage proposed seven-storey private, gated, blocks would do to the one small designated open space and children’s play area in the local area at Crown Close. 

    Ms Berridge and WHAT will not need reminding that even children forced to live in any so-called “affordable” rented units proposed between the third and sixth floors of a block fronting the heavily congested and highly polluted West End Lane will also require access to this outdoor space in the event this segregated, gated, development be approved.

    Save West Hampstead “Stop the Blocks!” are also concerned about whether the developer intends to charge genuinely affordable rents and on a site that could and should instead be developed by the council to provide 100 per cent council housing. We have previously made inquiries with our local councillors into rents and service charges set by the same developer, A2Dominion, for the so-called “affordable” units on the Ballymore development and are still awaiting definitive details. 

    We also note that despite Ballymore being a private development on private land there are more family-sized units here than proposed on the publicly owned land at 156 WEL!

    We have also submitted a freedom of information request to determine the planning advice given to developers during the pre-planning process. It should be noted that the developer has ignored most of the recommendations made by Camden planners!

    Ms Berridge will be aware the majority of the so-called “affordable” units proposed at 156WEL (40) would offer “shared ownership” tenures, despite the developer being advised: “The key issue is the affordability of the affordable housing proposed, particularly in the intermediate elements. Given the land values in the borough shared ownership is pretty much impossible to make work viably within the income caps, so it will be necessary to have to look at other models.”

    As for allegations that members of our campaign group disrupted the recent Neighbourhood Development Forum AGM, nothing could be further from the truth.  

    Ms Berridge is presumably referring to, and was horrified by, the two rounds of sustained applause our campaign received for the detailed and comprehensive objections we submitted to the planning application for 156WEL. Now perhaps Ms Berridge and WHAT might deign to answer the questions posed in relation to their complete lack of consistency when dealing with two developments on either side of the railway tracks, namely 11 Blackburn Road and 156WEL.

    Most crucially, why have WHAT ignored the irreparable damage that would be done to the Crown Close designated open space?

    Many young families living in the area in flats without access to gardens or outdoor space are very interested to learn the answer to this question.

    JOSEPH BLACK, BRIDGET DUNNE, IAN FERRIE

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