Expansion of the Farmers’ market; too much too soon?

London Farmers’ Markets has applied to Camden Council to expand the operating hours of the market that currently pops up on Iverson Road every Saturday. The existing market is popular, so this initially seems like a good idea and LFM has made it very easy for locals to show their support. However, residents who’ve looked at the smallprint have some reservations, and it is far from clear whether the demand is actually there.

We love the farmer's market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

We love the farmer’s market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

For years, the residents of West Hampstead clamoured for a farmers’ market, and their wish came true five years ago. Pretty much from the word go it’s been a success, as our Insight into: Brinkworth Dairy explained.

To build on this success, London Farmers’ Markets – the company that puts on not just the West Hampstead market, but most of the major once-a-week markets around the capital, including Queens Park’s Sunday market – has put in a planning application to expand the hours of operation. On Saturday, the market would potentially run until 8pm, rather than 2pm as it is now. There could be a Sunday market from 10am to 5pm and on Mondays to Fridays it is asking for permission to trade from 7am to 8pm. Add it all up and it’s a potential expansion from 4 to 82 hours a week.

Local residents in Maygrove and Iverson Road, who already are under severe parking ‘stress’ are obviously concerned about the impact on parking, and there are also concerns about rush-hour passenger and traffic flows.

Nor does it seem that the traders themselves are unanimously in favour. Many of the regular stallholders have to drive a couple of hours to get here, which would mean 5am starts (or earlier) if they were to be opening for busines at 7am (not allowing for setup time). Once they finish and pack up there’s another two hour drive home – or more in the afternoon traffic. If the Saturday market didn’t close until 8pm they wouldn’t be home until 11pm, having got up at 5am. And then get up the next day at 5am for the next farmers market? All seems rather implausible.

Other locals have raised concerns about the impact on our local greengrocers, butchers and cafés? Businesses at the farmer’s market don’t have to pay the high rent or rates that businesses with premises have to face, so would this amount to unfair competition.

Postcode survey of farmers' market users source: LFM

Postcode survey of farmers’ market users. Source: LFM

LFM says that the mid-week market would be a different animal to the weekend market. There would be fewer stalls and more food outlets. But this has been tried before, admittedly not by LFM, and was not a great success given the lack of footfall. As we all know, West Hampstead is a busy interchange so there are morning and evening rush hours but not much in-between. Traders who were involved with that market thought that, if at all, just running it on Thursday and Friday night might be a better option.

It does rather feel as if LFM is attempting to get permission for as many hours as it possibly can, and will then work out when it will actually choose to trade, with the flexibility to adjust based on demand and the seasons. The idea of more than 80 hours of trading every week is surely unrealistic.

Even those with reservations – locals and traders – think that an expansion of the hours of trading is worth exploring -perhaps a market on Sunday with similar hours to Saturday but a slightly different focus. During the week perhaps one evening to test the market. In essence let’s not kill the farmer’s market goose that lays the organic golden egg.

Planners at Camden Council are reviewing the application and have acknowledged support for it. However, they are also considering the impact on neighbourhood amenity, local traffic and highway safety plus implications for the viability of the town centre. If you want to comment, you have until the 6th of July and can do so here.

Developments pile pressure on street parking

Some residents of Maygrove and Iverson Roads are fed up with the increasingly difficult parking situation they face in light of all the new developments on these roads.

The local residents association, MILAM, wants to see a review of parking hours and is suggesting a sub-zone that has different rules to the CA-Q zone in which these streets sit. Specifically, it would like to see controls extending past 6.30pm.

CA-Q is a large zone that runs along Kilburn High Road from Quex Road all the way up to Cricklewood. It has controlled parking between 8.30am and 6.30pm. Camden is reluctant to sub-divide the zone although subdivisions are not unusual – there are already two within CA-Q. However, any change to zone rules inevitably has knock-on effects and therefore not everyone is automatically in favour of change.

CA-Q parking zone runs from Cricklewood to Kilburn

CA-Q parking zone runs from Cricklewood to Kilburn

Camden has said that for any review of parking it needs a petition signed by 800 residents of the affected parking zone. As it happens, a petition has already been set up by a resident of Maygrove Road. She was fed up of not being able to park as she used to before the recent developments opened. If you want to sign it (and you live or work in the CA-Q area) click here.

What’s the problem?
The new developments on Iverson and Maygrove – The Residence (91 units, Maygrove Rd), The Central (33 units, Iverson) and The Ivery (19 units, Iverson) – are designated “car free”, like every other new development in Camden. This creates a ‘carparteid’ between residents of new developments and existing residents.

“Car free” means no parking spaces for residents (although The Residence does offer some underground parking for disabled drivers) and in theory, these residents are also not allowed parking permits for street parking. However, as MILAM residents are finding, theory and reality are two different things. Some new residents appear able to get round controls; of course they can legally park outside the controlled hours, some can get hold of a blue badge for disabled drivers, it’s possible to get a local friend to register the car to get a permit, or to hire a local garage space, displacing another car onto the road that can legally obtain a permit, or use visitors’ permits.

Anecdotal evidence from longer-term residents such as Monica Regli, chair of MILAM, suggests that while there used to be spare parking spaces, these have filled up and people have started to park on single yellow lines.

@NW6_residents: Once again no parking for residents! Instead more arguments as not one-way!

@NW6_residents: Once again no parking for residents! Instead more arguments as not one-way!

Now the single yellow lines are filling up, which creates additional problems. Cars parking on the single yellow lines mean that traffic can no longer pull over on Maygrove Road to allow oncoming cars to pass. The result: cars getting stuck head-to-head and road rage incidents. According to Monica, there are now calls for Maygrove to become a one-way street.

@NW6_residents "Another horrendous morning in Maygrove road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road! Wake up @camdentalking #congestion #help!"

@NW6_residents “Another horrendous morning in Maygrove Road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road!”

Will it get worse?
Yes. Almost certainly. The new school on Liddell Road opens this September. At first it will be year one pupils only; but each year a new class will join. The head teacher won’t have to worry though, she gets her own parking space.

The problem is set to get worse still with phase two of Liddell Road (the flats and business space) as Camden seems to have ignored the GLA guidelines on parking. This development will have 106 residential units and 3700m2 of business space, which is approximately enough for 40-50 people. All served by two and a half disabled parking spaces.

Let’s not forget that West Hampstead Square is about to open with 196 new flats, and some employment space, and Camden will decide shortly on  156 West End Lane with most likely another 164 units and 1,800m2 of employment space. It’s true that many residents won’t have cars – car ownership in this part of London is very low, but it isn’t zero. The excellent transport links mean that employees can probably get to and from work on tube, train or bus, but firms have clients, deliveries and disabled employees.

It also seems unrealistic to think that none of these residents will have cars already, or may need a car for work (doctors, midwives, plumbers, etc.). Are more car club spaces the answer? Possibly, though demand is lower than you might think – West Hamsptead Square actually removed some car club spaces.

What are the objections to parking changes?
James Earl, chair of the Fordwych Road residents association (and of the Neighbourhood Development Forum) is not in favour of wholesale changes to the parking zone rules because of the possible knock on impact to other streets outside any sub-zone. A new resident of the Residence on Maygrove Road has also objected to any changes. She said that she was aware of the existing hours of parking control when she moved in, and that was fine, but any changes to hours now would be very problematic as her husband could no longer park!

MILAM is getting support from local councillors, Phil Rosenberg and James Yarde. Monica had hoped to put the issue as a deputation to the council, but was instead offered a chance to put the issue to a scrutiny committee.

The struggles of West Hampstead’s 19th Century laundry school

West End House was built in the mid-17th Century and was originally the home of the Beckford family. It stood approximately where Rowntree Close is today, opposite the Thameslink station, and has an interesting history, including a four year spell as a philanthropic laundry school.

Don’t confuse this West End House with another building of the same name, which was the home of the Miles family near West End Green. To help distinguish between the two, locals sometimes called the Beckford property Old West End House and the Miles’, New West End House.

West End House, 1865 OS map

West End House, 1865 OS map

The Beckford house was much modified by successive owners and stood on a low hill. In 1842, West End House was described as a three-storey building with nine rooms on the top floor and seven on the floor below, with a balcony. There was a drawing room and a study on the ground floor plus kitchen and servants’ hall – and a water closet. The house came with upwards of 20 acres but by the 1850s it was available to rent with just a small amount of land.

Daniel Whittle Harvey
In 1855 the last tenant to rent the mansion as a home moved in. Daniel Whittle Harvey had been a radical MP who founded The Sunday Times, and now held the prestigious post of Commissioner of the City of London Police. But the neighbourhood was changing and he stayed only a couple of years. After Whittle left, the property’s slow decline began and by June 1857 it stood empty.

The setting of West End House was irreparably damaged by railway building. What we now call the London Overground was originally promoted as the Hampstead Junction Railway in 1853. By 1856, the railway company had purchased five acres of land immediately south of West End House. The Act authorising the Midland Railway’s extension to St Pancras was passed in 1863 and its route lay in a cutting immediately opposite the old mansion. Railway building was very disruptive and unlikely to appeal to most tenants.

The philanthropic brewer

Under these circumstances, landlords looked for alternative rentals, maybe a school or similar concern.

Robert Culling Hanbury

Robert Culling Hanbury (1823-1867) was an extremely wealthy partner in the old brewing firm of Truman, Hanbury and Burton. At one time their brewery in Brick Lane was said to be one of the largest in the world. He helped set up the Reformatory & Refuge Union in 1856, and the following year the Union decided to create the Girls’ Laundry & Training Institution for Young Servants. Then as now, many households sent their laundry away to be done. The Institution was the idea of “some ladies who had considerable experience in the work of female reformation”, so this training was aimed at a specific group.

In November 1857, The Times published an appeal for £500, which was needed to set up the laundry “for the employment of females from the London refuges and reformatories, who are of sufficient age to leave these institutions, but require further training or protection from bad parents.”

The Institution was described as an “industrial home” – not a reformatory or a refuge – it would provide the trainees with “protection, employment and prepare them for future service”. Girls from poor and broken homes could look forward to, at best, marriage and children; and at worst, prostitution. The difficulty in “reclaiming” girls who had “left the path of virtue” was mentioned, as was the fact that there were few opportunities for any woman to earn a regular and living wage. If the girls could be trained, in this case for laundry work, they’d have a skill to offer, “as would enable them to undertake engagements either in families or in washing establishments, or as wives. It is proposed that the girls should be properly cared for, and receive necessary teaching of other descriptions”.

Needlework, housework and plain cooking were also on the curriculum. It was hoped the Institution would gain a reputation such that respectable working men would also send their girls for instruction. As was common for the time, religion and strong moral beliefs pervaded the running of the Institution.

There were regulations governing the selection of girls to be admitted. Nothing was free. A girl certainly couldn’t just turn up and ask to be trained. The Ladies Management Committee, which almost certainly included Mrs Hanbury among its members, vetted the entries. Admission was £10 for each girl, payable quarterly in advance, unless there were special circumstances or she had worked in a laundry before. The intention was for the girls to earn enough to cover their day to day expenses and make the business self-supporting. A few critics raised doubts – at least one recent attempt by another philanthropic organisation to train girls for laundry work had failed.

By January 1858, £268 had been raised and the committee searched for premises. This took some time. It decided West End House was the most suitable “on account of its airy situation, (good for laundry and inmates’ health), distance from surrounding buildings and capability of accommodation in the house”.

A lease was signed, but the rent was higher than the committee had intended paying, at £150 a year. Given the known proximity of the Hampstead Junction Railway and the dirt associated with steam engines, the committee’s decision to rent West End House was questionable, especially as more money had to be spent to create the girls’ accommodation. Then there were the further costs associated with providing laundry facilities and equipment, all this before the business could be launched.

Old West End House, Girls Laundry Training School

Old West End House, Girls Laundry Training School

The Training Institution took possession of West End House on 5th July 1858, and began building the wash house. The first three girls were admitted a week later on the 12th. In January 1859, an article in The Philanthropist described progress so far. The number of girls had risen to just seven, as it was decided not to admit more until all modifications had been completed. The plan had always been to open the enterprise with a few girls who already had laundry experience, get a few clients and then take in trainees. As regards their moral welfare, the girls sometimes attended services held at Christ Church in Hampstead; the Reformatory and Refuge Union had given books for a library and the Bible Society had likewise donated a number of bibles. But the article concluded with the ominous statement that “the sum which was generously contributed last year is entirely exhausted”, spent on fitting up the wash house and furnishing the Institution to receive 40 girls. And as yet, no laundry work had been done; for the past six months the girls had been doing needlework “necessary for the house and laundry”.

There were more appeals for pecuniary aid. In April 1859, Hanbury said he believed the enterprise would “realise very favourable results”. That September, when the laundry business had barely got underway, the entire estate, including the house, was put up for sale. But as the Institution’s lease still had an unexpired term of 28 years to run, it continued working while the land around it was slowly developed.

The greatest care had been taken in selecting a matron who would not only instruct the girls in laundry work but also be responsible for their moral training. Accordingly, the Union advertised for “a person of sound religious principles, influence and tact.” Miss Sarah Woodhams was the matron in January 1859 but by 1861, the laundry was being managed by Susan Beech, a 50-year-old widow born in Islington. Her live-in staff comprised two assistants and a porter. Mrs Beech was in charge of 25 girls, far fewer than the 40 originally intended. Of these, 21 were “under training for laundry services”, and the remainder, “under training for domestic services”. Their ages ranged from 14 to 17.

The laundry folds

A track off West End Lane became Iverson Road, and in 1862 three large houses were being built there. In March that year, the laundry was in trouble with the local authorities over a blocked drain, but the committee blamed the builder working on the land opposite, saying he had diverted the drain. In May, a bazaar was held to raise funds for the Institution but by September 1862 West End House stood empty once again. Matron Beech, her staff and the girls had gone. There is no record of the laundry relocating elsewhere, so almost certainly it had closed. Presumably the business had been unprofitable, which meant that unless expenses and salaries were covered by donations, it couldn’t keep going. Inadequate funding appears to have been a problem from the very start.

The Midland Railway Company bought West End House and the three large houses built opposite, and used them as temporary accommodation for its workers, the navvies who built the line to St Pancras. The mansion was demolished around 1873.

Today’s visitor to Iverson Road will find no trace of West End House or the three Victorian villas. It took 25 years for the site of the mansion and the land round it to be built on and the area has undergone extensive redevelopment in recent years. Two of the villas were demolished around the turn of the 20th Century; the third was adapted for use as the first Midland Railway station and demolished after the station was relocated on West End Lane.

Back in East London, Robert Hanbury was well known for supporting good causes. He had donated £100 of his own money to help establish the West End Laundry. But his wealth couldn’t protect against personal tragedy. In September 1863, two of Robert’s sons, Francis (11), and Herbert (7) contracted scarlet fever and died while on holiday in Eastbourne. Robert’s wife Caroline died just a week later. Press reports of her death give no cause of her death other than to say that it was not scarlet fever and that it followed what one paper called her “unwearying nursing” of her sons. Robert Hanbury married again and died in 1867, after suffering from rheumatic fever for several weeks.

Truman Hanbury and Buxton Brewery in Brick Lane, 1842

Truman Hanbury and Buxton Brewery in Brick Lane, 1842

West Hampstead grows: Development review of the year

“Why did no-one try and fight it?”

I guarantee that when the tower blocks that will form West Hampstead Square start to go up in 2014, at least one person will express horror and shock that such a thing was allowed to go ahead uncontested.

Of course people did contest it – or at least the scale of it. Some still are. None of that matters now – the development got its planning permission more than a year ago. If you’re new to the area The best summary article of the plan is here, though scrolling through these pages will give you the full story.

The existing buildings, businesses that almost all managed to relocate locally, were knocked down the first weekend in May.

The remnants of Cafe Bon

Ballymore, the developers, launched the marketing offensive in the early summer with a website and then a promotional newspaper that seemed to suggest West Hampstead is populated by glamorous couples who swan around the stations in 1930s garb.

When sales eventually started to the general public in September (after a few existing Ballymore customers were given first dibs), there was considerable interest though most locals were a little gobsmacked by the prices (studios start at £405,000), 2-beds are in the £750,000+ range, service charge is ~£2,800 for 2-beds (and even ground rent is £750!).

The widespread belief, therefore, is that the unit are going to investors. After all, buyers have to drop a 20% deposit within a matter of months even though the flats won’t be ready until well into 2015.

As the flats went on the market, a bruhaha developed over the fate of trees on and adjacent to the site. Emma Thompson even got involved.

It’s all been of little import, though Ballymore has agreed to look at some more “greening” of parts of the site that won’t be seen by its own residents. The trees that people are now concerned about are on Network Rail land and are almost certain to be cleared when the Overground station is redeveloped in 2014.

West Hampstead Square might be the most high profile development in the area, but it’s far from the only one.

Work has finally started on the 163 Iverson Road site. This former garden centre will be turned into flats with some imaginative architecture to make the most of an odd-shaped site. Former Conservative candidate Chris Philp is now one of the investors in the development after a property fund he set up took over the site.

163 Iverson Road looking east

Next door, McGregor Homes has an application in to turn the Iverson Tyres site into a block of flats that reflect the architecture of the 163 development. It’s hard to see any major objections to these plans – already revised once after discussion with council planners. One objection might be that Iverson Tyres itself (which ows the land) isn’t able to move its offices into the one commercial unit in the development because Camden is insisting on classifying it for light industrial use.

The redevelopment of Handrail House and the building next door (63 & 65 Maygrove Road) hasn’t really got going even though developer Regal Homes has sold some of the units off plan during an Asian roadshow. The empty Handrail House was the site of a rave by squatters back in May.

The saga of Gondar Gardens is a tortuous one, but it may be entering its final stage. This time last year, the first of developer Linden Wates’ (now three) proposals had just been successfully appealed by the developer and the second was being lined up for appeal. There was some surprise that the national planning inspector rejected that second proposal.

Linden Wates has since put forward its third proposal – a tweak of the second adjusted to take the inspectors’ comments into account. GARA – the relevant residents association – will decide at its AGM in January exactly how to respond, but its initial reaction is to push to ensure that the developer puts forward as sympathetic a proposal as possible rather than to contest this third plan outright. This is, therefore, likely to be the beginning of the end of the story.

The other big development news is for a site at the very heart of West Hampstead, but progress is likely to be slow. 156 West End Lane, the red-brick building known as the “Travis Perkins building”, has been sold for redevelopment.

156West End Lane has enormous potential

However, Travis Perkins has a lease that means it can stay in the building for another three years. In the meantime the offices above – once used by the council – sit empty. It’s hoped that, given the substantial cost to Camden of simply keeping the building, some alternative uses can be found for at least some of the office space.

Hoping to play a part in all the big developments that lie ahead, the Neighbourhood Development Forum worked through various drafts of its plan and tried different ways to reach out to the broader community. Hopefully, by now most residents have at least heard of it, and many have contributed their thoughts. The final draft should be published in late January 2014 and go to consultation.

Other planning news

  • An application was submitted to turn the ground floor of Alfred Court into an extension of a private school. It was always going nowhere fast – much like the traffic it would have created.
  • The Blackburn Road student block was finished and opened on time – few people seem to object too much, despite its bulk.
  • The “Mario’s block” on Broadhurst Gardens is up for redevelopment – will it be modern or traditional?
  • The major Abbey Area redevelopment (around the Belsize Road/Abbey Road junction) has stuttered on with amendments to plans but little seems to have happened.

As always, you can keep up to date with major planning proposals and developments with the map below (do let me know if anything needs updating)

View Developments in West Hampstead in a larger map

New 159 Iverson Road plans: 10 fewer flats

The planned development of the Iverson Tyres site is back on the agenda. Camden’s planners advised developer Stephen McGregor that the previous proposals, which I discussed back in July, would be unlikely to get permission. His architects went back to the drawing board taking into account the comments from Camden and from locals who came to the first exhibition of the plans.

Extending the timeframe of this development must be a bit hard to swallow for McGregor. I understand that the financing for this scheme is contingent on a reasonably quick turnaround. Still, Camden indicated the original plans were too dense (it’ll be interesting to see what they make of the Broadhurst Gardens scheme then), so the development has shrunk from 29 units to 19, of which 4 are affordable – still above quota. Camden’s position does mean that five affordable units now won’t be built – it does seem odd that in an area of intensification, this development was deemed too much, when the developer had unusually gone over quota on the affordable housing.

Fewer flats doesn’t mean they’ve all grown in size. Instead, the middle of the block has been cut away from the first floor up, allowing more sunlight into the landscaped garden area the development will share with 163 Iverson Road – the former garden centre site. In addition, the building has lost a storey at the back. The pictures below include the 163 Iverson Road development, which has of course not yet been built though the site has at least now been cleared.

The revised plan with 10 fewer flats
The original proposal

There are some other changes, a wider entrance, the ground floor set back further from the pavement, and a change of some materials, including the introduction of anodysed copper (which keeps its lustre rather than turning green). The affordable units have also been moved from the Iverson Road side of the property to the side and back.

In the initial proposal, there was a question mark over the use of the commercial space. Camden was insisting it remained light industrial as there is a shortage of space for that in the borough. However, this meant that Iverson Tyres couldn’t keep its offices on the site, which it wanted to do and which the developer was also in favour of. The revised plan has retained the light industrial use, despite a lack of clear evidence from Camden as to the level of demand for that. In light of the redevelopment of Liddell Road, there may be some scope for one of the businesses there to move in, but the majority of them would need much more room.

Here you can get more of a sense of what impact the new block will have on the street (once the 163 Iverson development has been built).

Iverson Road in 1940

This morning I was sent a scan of an unfinished drawing of Iverson Road. It was found in the Kilburn High Road offices of MP Moran – the plumbing supplies merchant – and on the back it reads “18th March 1940. Unfinished due to police interference.”

This was of course less than a year into the war, but before the first bomb fell in the area (that happened in August 1940).

The viewpoint is from west of the railway bridge looking back towards West Hampstead. The land to the left where the truck is parked is MP Moran’s West Hampstead yard, which may explain why the drawing found its way into the company’s Kilburn High Road office.

If anyone knows any more about this, or can shed light on the signature bottom-right, do please let me know. I shall try and pop out tomorrow and take a photo of what the site looks like today – or you can look at the Google Street View image.

Iverson Road plans match approved scheme

The Iverson Tyres site is the next bit of Iverson Road set for redevelopment. Iverson Tyres is headquartered on the premises, but is actually a chain of tyre fitters now and the Iverson site isn’t very cost efficient as a fitting centre. Enter the property developer.

McGregor Homes was originally the developer involved with the site next door – the former garden centre. However it has sold its interest in that site and a new developer, funded by former Tory PPC Chris Philp’s Pluto Finance, is about to start construction there – you may have seen small demolition crews starting to clear the site over the past few days.

Instead, McGregor is now the developer for the Iverson Tyres site, 159-161 Iverson Road. The plan is to build 29 flats, of which nine would qualify as affordable housing. This is, very unusually, above the affordable housing quota. Very rarely do developers meet the affordable housing quota, using “viability studies” that Camden has to have independently verified to prove that more affordable housing would make the development financially unviable. It’s a contentious area to put it mildly.

Has Stephen McGregor been overcome with altruism? It’s more to do with his financing, he says. For this development to work, he needs to get it completed quickly and therefore it’s worth it for him to be generous with the affordable housing in order to speed the plan’s progress through the council.

For a similar reason, he has hired the same architects that designed the garden centre redevelopment as Camden said it would prefer a continuous look and feel down the street.

159-161 is the site to the left of the image

The result is indeed the same look, so whether you like it will depend on whether you like the first plan – though this new proposal has no aeroplane wing roof! It’s hard to appreciate from the street level, but the 159-161 site really does encroach into the odd y-shape of 163.

The red-dashed line shows how this plot overlaps with 163 Iverson Road

McGregor argues that the redevelopment of the tyre site is therefore going to benefit the new 163 flats as their view will be now of a courtyard and other flats rather than tyres and portacabins. It will, however, reduce the amount of light they’ll receive.

The affordable housing will be on the street-side of the development, with the fourth floor flats with balconies highly desirable were they ever to come on the open market. As is common practice, the affordable units will be clumped together rather than spread throughout the development. Socially and culturally this is far from desirable (it’s seen at its worst in the Ballymore West Hampstead Square scheme, where the affordable housing is tucked away right at the very back of the site), but it tends to be housing assocations’ preference purely because it makes servcing easier, and therefore cheaper. The end result in this case is that the entrance to the affordable housing units is on Iverson Road, while the other flats will be accessed via a passageway leading into the courtyard.

Looking east up Iverson Road

The final component of the scheme is employment space, which throws up some interesting questions. Iverson Tyres wanted to take the space so the company’s office could still be based on Iverson Road. This however, would mean a change in the class of employment use. You’d think that given that the actual employment would barely be changing – same people doing the same job, only without the tyre fitters – that this would all be straightforward. The local place shaping document, which Camden published, talks about supporting office employment too. However, the borough-wide policy is to support “light industrial”, which is what the site is classified as now.

Rather than engage some common sense, Camden is insisting that the employment space in the new development is also light industrial and only if it cannot be let as such for two years will they allow it to revert to office space. The particular brand of light industrial includes some perfectly viable businesses – jewellery design, commercial photography, that sort of thing. Not sure that anyone would object to that per se, but it does seem ridiculous that Iverson Tyres can’t keep its office space. End of rant.

The new development goes up to six storeys at the railway side, though the profile from the street side will be much lower. The flats at the back don’t sit flush against the railway lines as there’s an emergency vehicle area should Network Rail or the emergency services need to get onto the railway lines in case of a serious incident.

West Hampstead tagged blue

Last week, I saw a link to a set of photos all taken by @UKColin around Maygrove Road and all of a stencil graffiti tag. It was one word: Blue. In blue spray paint of course.

Photo via @UKColin

Yesterday, I wandered down to see for myself quite the extent of this tagging.

It’s in a fairly concentrated area of Iverson Road and Maygrove Road (though not Loveridge Road) and far from being a few isolated spray of the odd wall or road sign, it’s a widespread tagging of people’s front walls, signposts, telephone boxes and in one instance, window sill.

Occasionally it’s been done with almost a nod of humour, but this is no witty street artist or ironic commentator, it’s just indiscriminate graffiti of people’s property. I didn’t come close to taking a photo of all the occurrences, but I still took more than 30 photos. Debbie Bennett, whose wall got tagged, tweeted “It is just vandalism – I actually love graffiti when it’s done well but no artistic merit in an idiot with a spray can & stencil.”

The dispersal suggests to me that whoever was doing it got as many as they could in when the coast was clear and then if a car or person came along they’d walk on. As a result, some stretches of the street are clear while others are inundated.

The tags are only on the north side of Iverson Road, and start roughly opposite where the little playground is. There are a couple at the juction of Ariel and Maygrove and then a lot more on both sides of Maygrove. Already, at least one has been painted over by the owner.

Strangely, this enormous expanse of white under the railway bridge was left untouched.

Could new Iverson proposal merge with existing plan?

Iverson Tyres sits next to the old Hampstead Garden Centre on the north side of Iverson Road, just a couple of hundred yards from the new Thameslink station. The garden centre is set to become a block of flats, though building has yet to start. Now, the man behind that redevelopment is looking to build another block on the Iverson Tyres site.

The new block will consist of 29 new homes, nine of which would be affordable housing. There would also be flexible business space. You can see in the “before” photo below the 163 Iverson Road development – as yet unbuilt – peeping into the background.

Before (with 163 Iverson Rd in the distance)
After  – with a matching facade

Before submitting the plans to Camden, the developers – McGregor Homes – is holding a public exhibition of its plans.

This proposal represents an opportunity to redevelop the underutilised and visually unattractive tyre centre site to complete the regeneration of this part of Iverson Road and achieve key objectives of Camden Core Strategy, the West Hampstead Place Plan and the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan. The design would complement the consented scheme on adjacent land at 163 Iverson Road. The proposal would see the delivery of 29 new homes. In addition, it would provide new high quality, flexible small business space.

Hard to tell from the photos here, but it looks like the 159-161 development might be taking advantage of the topography to add an extra storey onto the building. One also wonders whether, if this development was to get the go ahead, a new plan might come along for the whole block from 159-163, which would surely be more cost-effective for the developer?

The exhibition is at Sidings Community Centre on Wednesday July 17th from noon-8pm.

A Kilburn shooting: The interfering mother-in-law

This dramatic picture from the Illustrated Police News show the scene outside 42 Iverson Road on the morning of Sunday 28 July 1889. But there’s a fair degree of artistic license. The four people shown were related by marriage: Leonard Handford who is holding a revolver to his head, was married to Sarah Elizabeth (shown on the ground at his feet). She was the daughter of Daniel Deveson and Elizabeth Deveson, (the couple on the right). Number 42, ‘Kent Villa’, was the Deveson’s family home. Daniel had been born in Kent, hence the choice of name.

Deveson had worked as a butler before running a dairy on the Edgware Road, but he was now retired. His daughter Sarah Elizabeth (born 1855), had been married before to Charles Kohler in 1876. He was a merchant with a violent temper, according to Sarah, and the marriage quickly fell apart. In her divorce papers she said that he had attacked her and she left him after just eight months of marriage. She lived with her parents in Iverson Road. She had met Leonard Bowes Handford (born 1856), when his parents moved from Lambeth to 27 Gascony Avenue. Both families were Baptists, and attending the same Chapel in Iverson Road. Charles’ father Ebenezer was a schoolmaster, turned clerk, and then lithographer.

Sarah and Leonard were married on 20 August 1887 and their son Archibald George Handford was born the following year. Sarah’s second marriage had also not gone well, and by the time of the assault the couple had been separated for several months. Sarah said her husband began drinking soon after Archie was born. In May 1889 Sarah began divorce proceedings. Leonard had moved out of Kent Lodge but he hadn’t gone far, renting a couple of rooms from William Butler at 26 Iverson Road. At his trial it became apparent Leonard couldn’t disconnect from his family – he tried but failed to see his son on his first birthday – and he desperately wanted reconciliation. A local policeman believed there was ‘great sympathy’ for Leonard in the neighbourhood.

The Brondesbury Baptist Chapel stood at the Kilburn High Road end of Iverson Road. Sarah and her parents had been to a Sunday morning service and were walking home. A witness saw Leonard leave Number 26 and approach first Sarah then her mother Elizabeth, shooting them both in rapid succession. Handford then turned the gun on himself, firing a single shot to his temple.

Possibly because the revolver had a small bore, neither woman fell unconscious in a pool of blood, as shown in the illustration above. The news report said Leonard pursued Sarah before shooting her, when she turned to face him. In fact, she was shot before she ran away from her husband. Her mother also managed to put some distance between herself and her attacker after being shot, before collapsing.

Leonard was taken to St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, in a very critical condition. But both women were helped into Kent Villa and attended at home by local doctors. Sarah had been shot through the cheek, the bullet lodging in her soft pallet before she swallowed it. Her mother’s wound was more serious, the bullet having passed through her cheek and out again through her neck. Luckily, neither woman required hospital treatment.

Leonard was considered well enough to appear at the first Magistrate’s hearing in early August 1889 where he was charged with intent to murder and attempted suicide. At the second hearing he still appeared very weak, but his head was no longer bandaged. Although Mrs Deveson was too ill to attend, Sarah’s wound had healed and she gave evidence at a further hearing on 30 August. She said Leonard had threatened to kill her on several occasions by blowing her, and their son Archie’s brains out.

Extracts were read out from letters written by Leonard before the assault, which were discovered by police at his lodgings. He blamed his treatment at the hands of the Devesons for driving him to actions ‘he would not have otherwise have done.’

When he married Sarah and against the advice of friends, he had moved into Number 42, because Elizabeth had been so upset at the thought of loosing her daughter. But he said the Devesons had treated him badly; ‘when my son Archie was born everything I did was laughed at, and they said that I was worse than a Kilburn dustman.’

Leonard accused his father-in-law of being mean while his mother-in-law was both unkind and interfering. So far as Sarah was concerned, Leonard started by saying he had married a ‘splendid woman’ who’d been treated very cruelly by her first husband. But he went on to complain she’d become ‘bad tempered and self willed and on one occasion locked herself and baby in a spare room away from him.

Sarah had started divorce proceedings, citing his ‘drunken and violent habits,’ which Leonard said were all lies. But he did admit he was sometimes what he called ‘elevated’, and needing a ‘stimulant’ before he could face going home. He ended his letter:

Sorry, sorry indeed, to leave my child an orphan: but a woman who has promised to love and cherish, in sickness and health, rich or poor, and turns on her husband like a worm, is not a fit person to have charge of any child – at least one of mine. I hope he may be well cared for. I always looked on marriage as a very solemn thing. My wife, having been through the fire, evidently thought, to say the least, lightly of it.

Leonard was tried at the Old Bailey on 16 September 1889. His landlord, William Butler, said Leonard had been very depressed when he separated from Sarah. He slept badly, ate very little and had begun drinking heavily. Butler also said he warned Daniel Deveson that Leonard had a revolver. The defence tried to prove that while Leonard had meant to kill himself, shooting at Sarah and Elizabeth had been a spur of the moment decision. Leonard was found guilty, but the jury recommended mercy on the grounds of his health, and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison on the Isle of Portland.

Both mother and daughter recovered from their wounds; Elizabeth died, aged 83, fifteen years after the shooting. Sarah was still living with her parents at 42 Iverson Road, along with her son Archibald, in the 1891 census. They’d moved to 6 Cavendish Road by 1901, where Sarah continued to use the surname ‘Handford.’

She had however obtained a divorce from Leonard in 1890, the court awarding her custody of Archibald as Leonard was ruled unfit to act as his guardian under any circumstances. Despite this, in the 1891 census return for Portland Prison, Leonard described himself as ‘married.’ More curious was his choice of profession, shown as ‘artist/sculptor,’ rather than the clerk he’d always been. After he was released, Leonard returned to live with his parents in St Johns Wood, working as a wool broker’s clerk, and still claiming to be married. He died in Lambeth Infirmary in March 1909 and was buried in his parents’ grave at Hampstead Cemetery. He was still in love with Sarah and he left her £266 in his will, worth about £22,000 today.

Sarah and son Archie were still at Cavendish Road in 1911, when he was working for a photographer. Sarah had inherited a considerable amount of money from her father and when she died on 21 May 1929 at 19 Exeter Mansions Brondesbury, she left £10,786 (today worth about £511,000), to her son. Archie had moved to Croydon and was married there in 1914. He ran a photographic company, Archie Handford Ltd.

Archie at Croydon Camera Club about 1936

In the 1950s he formed ‘Chorley Handford’, a very successful aerial photographic company which was taken over by Skyscan in 2009.

They still have a large collection of old photos from Chorley Hanford. Archie died in Croydon in 1979.

License landlords or resort to Asbos?

This month Newham will become the first council in England to require private landlords to be registered. Meanwhile, Camden has already served the country’s first landlord asbo to a West Hampstead landlady and has sought this week to extend it in court. Over at City Hall, Boris is proposing a “new housing covenant“, which puts forward some changes to tenancy agreements in the favour of tenants under a London Rental Standard.

The idea of licensing is to root out and stiffly penalise rogue landlords – the sort of people who exploit tenants by cramming lots of people into poorly maintained houses and then charge them an extortionate amount of rent. It also means that people who decide to rent their property out for lifestyle reasons rather than for pure profit must also register – there are a lot of these people. Many in the industry think that the licence requirement is overkill and that there are more cost-effective ways of protecting tenants from rogue landlords.

Last year, Camden opted for a different approach. It served a two-year anti-social behaviour order on Catherine Boyle of 14 Iverson Road back in January 2011, and sought to extend it at the end of 2012 after she failed to comply with some of the court’s requirements.

Google Street View catches a pest control
vehicle parked outside 14 Iverson Road

Catherine Boyle lives in and rents out rooms at the property, at the Kilburn end of Iverson Road. It qualifies as an HMO (house of multiple occupancy). She has been banned from causing harassment, alarm or distress to her tenants, entering their rooms without their consent, and cutting off their gas and electricity supply. She was also fined £8,000 for failing to comply with fire regulations despite having been given more than six months to meet the requirements (more than half of this was to pay the council’s court costs). In August 2010, she was cautioned for assault against one of her tenants.

Asbos seem like a pretty drastic solution to tackle problem landlords. They remain practically unheard of – the only other example that comes up is in Plymouth, where the council is appyling for an asbo against a landlord that would prevent him from letting to anyone on housing benefit. Councils do already have considerable powers to fine landlords heavily, especially those letting HMO properties, and jail sentences are not unheard of. The council can also takeover the running of the property.

In Ms Boyle’s case, I understand that there was both bad behaviour, as well as non-compliance with regulation, which may have been why the order was sought.

What is not clear to me is why a licensing policy such as Newham’s need to be applied to all landlords. Reserving it for HMO landlords, or even those with multiple properties would save time and money for both the council and plenty of ordinary landlords. This might be combined with a compulsory training program.

The Mayor certainly argues against any additional regulation in his private rented sector (PRS) report:

The Mayor does not support top-down regulation as a way of achieving better management or more choice for tenants, not least because the GLA does not possess formal powers in this area. In any case, regulation is damaging for investment into the PRS and it should always be a last resort. The sector’s capacity for voluntary self-regulation has not yet been exhausted – indeed, with the support of the Mayor, boroughs and landlord organisations, voluntary accreditation can deliver the step change in standards that tenants are rightly seeking. It is also unfair to penalise the majority of law-abiding landlords because of the actions of a small minority.”

It does seem that the system of landlord accreditation could do with some consolidation.

What do you think? Should councils use the powers they already have to deal with rogue landlords or are licensing or asbos the way forward?

163 Iverson Road – still waiting to start the build

The proposal to redevelop the garden centre site on Iverson Road into flats was given the green light back in the early summer but for some reason I never actually wrote about it.

I did discuss the plans back in January, after they had been watered down slightly from an initially very ambitious “aeroplane wing” style development.

The block will, when complete, consist of 33 flat and 3 houses. Even with the revisions, it’s not to everyone’s taste. The architects though are (naturally enough) proud of their response to what is a slightly unusually shaped site.

“Dexter Moren Associates have responded to this challenging Y-shaped site by creating two distinctive architectural treatments for the front and rear of the scheme. The southern wing adjacent to the railway tracks is raised on stilts to create a series of ‘tree houses’ and to distance the apartments from the trains. This allows the greenery from the embankment to flow under, into the heart of the development. The ‘tree houses’ are topped with a folded wing shaped metal roof that acts as a protective skin from the trains and creates a striking and dynamic roof form. The main frontage along Iverson Road is designed to respond to the streetscape with boxed balconies, roof terraces and a living green wall.”

It will also be very handy for the farmers’ market.

Ice cream and hot dogs on Iverson Road

Lots of you have noticed the new additions to West Hampstead’s, er, vibrant retail scene. Yes, Mr Whippy and a hot dog stand have arrived in town.

Photo via @RicksterLondon

They have set their stalls on the new wide pavement by the Thameslink station but this hasn’t proved popular with everyone – they don’t seem to quite fit with the image West Hampstead likes to have of itself.

In fact it’s not entirely clear how they are there. There was some confusion as to whether that space was a designated car park (which it is not), and then as to whether they had the right licence. The police moved them on for a day, but then they were back with the right licence.

The councillors are trying to get to the bottom of it as there is even more confusion as to whether this is a Network Rail issue or a Camden council issue. The land is owned by Network Rail but trading licences should normally be given by the council. That’s what happens when you privatise “public” space I’m afraid (if you’ll allow me to ride one of my hobbyhorses for a moment).

I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr Whippy and his frankfurter friend won’t be there much longer, so if you like a 99 Flake or a £3 hotdog, then get down there quick.

Farmers’ market moooves closer

The saga of West Hampstead’s farmers’ market has been more like a storyline from The Archers of late. Will it/won’t it/Has Nigel Pargeter fallen off the roof?

Then today a cow appeared. Not a real cow obviously, but a painted one. It’s standing next to the Mr Whippy van and the hot dog stand, so probably just as well it’s not a real one. It’s announcing that the Farmers’ Market will open on September 22nd.

The LFM website confirms that the market will be every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. In early September the organisers will announce who’s going to open the market. In the meantime, LFM is still looking for a manager for the West Hampstead market if you’re interested!

A market for West Hampstead

I got a very exciting e-mail yesterday from Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill announcing that an agreement has been reached with First Capital Connect for the West Hampstead Business Forum to hold a Saturday market on the widenened pavement area by the new Thameslink station on Iverson Road.

The site is not big enough for a full, accredited, commercial farmers market, which I know a lot of you are keen on. However, in order to try and maximise trade, the organisers are keen to know what locals would actually want. This will help them determine whether the focus will be on food, or antiques, or crafts, or something else.

An early poll on Twitter yesterday suggested food was by far the most popular, although there was a significant vote for crafts/antiques/flea market. Perhaps different weeks could be different markets?

The hope is that a pilot market could be arranged in the next 5-6 weeks.

If you are interested in having a stall, I suggest you contact Gillian at in the first instance. If you’d like to have your say on the type of market you’d like to see, then please leave a comment below. I’ve already noted comments via Twitter so please don’t vote again!

“Aeroplane wing” fails to take off at 163 Iverson Road

With all the hullabaloo over the other development, my attention has been diverted from what’s happening at 163 Iverson Road – the site of the former garden centre, and right next to the new Thameslink station.

The plans are now in for 33 flats and 3 houses on the site. When the developers presented their initial proposals at the Camden Development Forum back in early November, there was considerable resistance to the scheme overall, to some of the details, and in particular to the dramatic “wing” roof. 

Correspondence from the council’s planning department suggests that planners were less reticent about the new look, and deemed it “exciting”. However, when the final plans were submitted in December, the roof design had been watered down.

In fact, the developers have accommodated quite a lot of the issues raised both by Camden and by residents, including lowering the overall height. Obviously, those locals who objected to the whole concept are probably going to be disappointed.

The most interesting feature of the building is the southern elevation, where stilts have been used to create a dramatic railway view apartment.

southern elevation (with original roof design)

To see all the documents, head to Camden’s planning database and enter 2012/0099/P in the Application number box, and then scroll down to find “View Related Documents”. I recommend looking at the various Design & Access Statements for a good overview, the Appendices document, and the Ecological survey from page 24 onwards. Also, who knew a bat survey would cost £4,000?

Consultation closes on February 17th, and you can e-mail them to .

All change please: Thameslink’s next phase

Lots of you will have noticed that the new Thameslink station on Iverson Road is nearing completion. So, I thought it would be worth clarifying what’s going to happen over the next few months as the station transitions from the northern to the southern entrance. Handily, Thameslink have produced a useful guide to just this.

On November 14th, the existing station closes temporarily as work begins on a new ticket gate. This means passengers will have to enter the station by the side of the new station in Iverson Road. This will coincide with the work site hoardings along Iverson Road being pushed back to create a much wider pavement, although not yet to the full width we’ll see when the project is complete.

The new entrance will lead on to the new footbridge, although the old footbridge will stay open to allow people to change between platforms 2/3 and 4, but the stairs from platform 1 will be closed because the work for the new ticket gate enclosure will straddle the top of that staircase. The lifts on the new footbridge won’t be working until the new station building is complete in December.

Closing the existing entrance will mean today’s ticket office will be separated from the station. However, there will be two ticket machines at the Iverson Road entrance and staff will be available during normal ticket office hours with portable machines to sell people the full range of tickets.

On December 12th, the new station on Iverson Road will open, along with the public area in front of the station. Ticket office staff will relocate to the new building and the old ticket office will close. When the station is manned, passengers will pass through ticket gates inside the new building to reach the footbridge.

In mid-January the new ticket barriers will open above platform 1, and the original entrance will re-open. So, the station will have two permanent entrances and exits, and work will be complete. There will be a new ticket machine at the existing entrance and two machines at the new station building.

The ticket office hours will remain the same as today – 0615-1930 Mon-Fri; 0645-2000 Saturday and 0740-1715 Sunday. Outside these hours, people will access the platforms via the night entrance alongside the building, which will also be the temporary entrance from November 14th to December 12th.

There will be two touch-in/touch-out Oyster card readers at the Iverson Road night entrance, as well as Oyster readers on the new permanent ticket gates inside the station and at the existing entrance once the ticket gate enclosure there is complete.

For more information, visit the Thameslink programme page.

Iverson Road garden centre to close?

I received an e-mail yesterday:

“I heard today that Adrian Hall Garden Centre on Iverson Road, right next to the new Thameslink station entrance, is to close at the end of the month. The staff only heard two days ago. Apparently Network Rail sold the land at the point when Adrian Hall would have needed to renew their lease.

West Hampstead is fast becoming a desert as far as useful supplies are concerned. First Tesco and Sainsbury and now we will have no garden centre. And who will take over the site and for what? Adrian Hall has been there for 34 years…”

If anyone has any more information on this, do please let me know. Note also that this site is adjacent to the Liddell Road industrial estate, which is a potential site for a new primary school.

Iverson Road pavement works

You’ll have noticed that Network Rail’s works on Iverson Road are progressing well. What you may not have yet realised is quite how big an impact the pavement widening is going to have.

I’d seen the plans and noticed the extra space, but if you walk a few yards along and peer over the fence you can see just how wide it will be. Everything right up to the far wall will be pavement. It’s going to be 3-4 times as wide again as the existing pavement. This picture taken from up against the current fence line doesn’t really do it justice.

This whole space – which will be owned by Network Rail – will (at least outside of rush hour) become a rather pleasant open area, almost like a mini town square. It should vastly improve the whole environment at the junction (good news for Ladudu opening across the road on West End Lane).

It is also now possible to see just how big the new cut corner is going to be – again hard to capture on camera, but worth noticing next time you walk past from the tube direction. All the space you see will be pavement. This section is owned by Camden, but hopefully the whole unified area can be used for hosting small events (Christmas market, carol singing, community stalls), and preferably not as a hangout for chuggers.

This should be a very positive change to West Hampstead’s streetscape as well as improving the pedestrian flows between the stations. Hurrah.

Read more on the various roadworks on West End Lane.