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Photo via Colin Bridgewater

Council listens to Maygrove parking problems

Photo via Colin Bridgewater

Photo via Colin Bridgewater

If you’re following the Maygrove Road parking story, then you’ll be interested in this update from MILAM (the local residents association) chair Monica Regli.

Monica presented the MILAM deputation on parking and traffic issues to Camden’s environment and cultural scrutiny meeting at the town hall. She says that councillors were largely sympathetic to the problems but there was still a feeling that they need to see 800 signatures from CA-Q residents before they engage in any more formal consultation or discussion with residents.

MILAM argued that 800 was too high a barrier for such a small and very defined area. The petition currently has 200 signatures, and it is possible apparently for the council to use their discretion in terms of enforcing the 800 level.

Camden built its position heavily on the car-free developments, pointing out that while residents of these developments shouldn’t have cars this should not prevent relatives and visitors with cars visiting them. Restricting parking at weekends therefore, would mean these residents would have to buy visitor permits for relatives or friends.

The idea of creating a subzone was not dismissed out-of-hand, but it would require further consultation given the inevitable knock-on effect to other roads. MILAM argues that its streets are more or less boxed in by the railway tracks and thus realistically there aren’t so many roads for cars to spill over into, without then requiring a long walk to a front door.

@NW6resident "Another horrendous morning in Maygrove road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road! Wake up @camdentalking #congestion #help!"

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.

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Development triggers new Residents’ Association around Maygrove Road

A constitution for West Hampstead’s newest residents’ association has just been finalised, and residents are now waiting for a meeting to formally adopt the constitution and elect its committee.

maygrove_road

The MILAM Residents’ Association will represent the interests of people living in Maygrove, Iverson, Loveridge, Ariel and Medley Roads.

As with many residents’ associations, the catalyst for setting up MILAM was to fight a particular cause, in this case the disruption caused by construction work on the Regal Homes development on Maygrove Road.

Monica Regli, who lives on Maygrove Road, said that she and many of her neighbours became frustrated with the lack of communication both from the developer and Camden Council when the works started. A short stretch of the road was closed for three months, causing significant problems with traffic which affected not only Maygrove but also the surrounding streets.

Monica Regli, of the new MILAM residents' association

Monica Regli, of the new MILAM residents’ association

A few people complained, but Monica felt that residents’ concerns were not being addressed satisfactorily. “Individual complaints were just being batted away – we needed to unite,” she said. She set up a Facebook group and Twitter account where Maygrove residents could air their views, and immediately noticed that as a group, they started to be taken more seriously. Among the group’s first followers on Twitter was Regal Homes, closely followed by many local councillors.

Fortune Green councillor Lorna Russell suggested that residents formalise the group by setting up a Residents’ Association, and also open it up to residents of the surrounding streets facing many of the same issues. The area now covers about 1,000 households. Monica said she was nervous about taking on this task, not having had experience of setting up such an association before, but received overwhelming support from Lorna and other councillors including Flick Rea and Philip Rosenberg, James Earl, chair of the West Hampstead NDF, and Sue Measures of Sidings Community Centre, where meetings were held.

James Earl, who is also chair of the Fordwych Residents’ Association, said that the FRA welcomed the establishment of MILAM. Maygrove Road used to be covered by this neighbouring group, although the other four roads were not. “We think an RA for this area is badly needed and will be able to do a very useful job in representing the views of residents in this (often overlooked) area.” he said, adding “I hope the FRA and the MILAM RA will be able to work closely and productively in the years ahead.”

Cllr. Flick Rea, too, said she hoped that MILAM would “flourish,” and explained why she is a keen advocate of such groups: “Working together achieves so much more, and gives residents a stronger voice when making representations to the Council. They can also help bring people together and create a sense of community, which can be difficult when there is no obvious focal point.”

Monica’s background in law helped when it came to drafting the constitution and ensuring that all residents’ feedback was captured. She is keen to emphasise, however, that she does not intend to take charge of proceedings and that MILAM is for all residents, whether they simply want to sign up or get more heavily involved.

What’s next on the agenda for MILAM after the Regal Homes development? Liddell Road – and its planned tower block – inevitably looms large. Even for West Hampstead, these five streets are surrounded by an unusually high concentration of planned development, and residents understandably want to be aware of, and have a say in, how these proposals will unfold in the months and years to come.

But Monica insists it’s not all about the negative. “This is also a positive way of bringing people together” she points out, saying that since the group came together on social media, her road has felt like more of a community. Social events and street parties are some of the plans on the horizon. “It’s great to feel that we’re keeping an eye out for each other and making the area feel more secure.”

You can contact the group through its Twitter or Facebook pages, or by emailing moc.l1498498127iamg@14984981276wnev1498498127orgya1498498127m1498498127.

MaygroveRd_close_ft

Maygrove Road closure starts

It was pushed back a few days, but the partial closure of Maygrove Road for three months has now begun. The recriminations over the lack of notice for residents and councillors continue however.

MaygroveRd_closure

We reported last week the sudden annoucement of this lengthy road closure. So many people were up in arms about the lack of notice that the start date was moved from last Monday to yesterday. Today the road was definitively closed. To recap, the closure is from Ariel Road to 80 Maygrove Road. For the time being, the pavement is open on both sides, though residents should expect the northside pavement to close.

MaygroveRd_closure_eastbound

Here’s how Camden’s Brian Foxton, Network Manager, explained the snafu:

“A temporary traffic restriction order (closure) was applied for in December 2013 however the payments were not made until after the New Year’s break. While “approving” the order in principle we do not advertise until all payments etc have been made. The order was duly advertised, in compliance with the Road Traffic Regulations, on two separate occasions in the Ham & High on the 16th & 23rd January 2014. We do note however that not all Camden residents have access to this or wish to acquire a copy.

The Construction Management Plan for the development does state that there would be a potential road closure to carry out the sewer works however as the discussions progressed ward councillors and residents should have been kept informed and I can only apologise that this was not the case…. We are reviewing processes to ensure this does not reoccur.

…[t]he contractors… are going to ensure that a “filter” lane is provided to allow properties to be accessed in terms of disabled or physically impaired residents, in addition to any deliveries which may be required.

There should also now be a weekly newsletter for residents.

MaygroveRd_sign

Road Closed

Maygrove Road partially closed for three months

[updated 7.45pm]

A stretch of Maygrove Road is set to be closed for three months from Thursday [originally was to be Monday] as part of the redevelopment of Handrail House. Local groups are unhappy that they were alerted to this only after residents received a letter yesterday informing them. The road closure and attendant parking bay suspensions are needed to divert the existing storm drain that runs through the Peace Park into Maygrove Road.

The road will be closed from 80 Maygrove Road to Ariel Road – not a very long section, but enough to cause disruption for local residents. Traffic heading west will have to turn down Ariel and onto Loveridge Road and traffic heading east would be better off not turning onto Maygrove Road in the first place but continuing down the Kilburn High Road and turning onto Iverson Road.

Residents of Fordwych Road trying to drive through West Hampstead will have to now either go via Mill Lane, or go onto the Kilburn High Road in order to turn onto Iverson Road.

James Earl, chair of the Fordwych Residents Association, epxressed surpise that no local groups had been consulted. “Clearly, the closure of the road will have an impact on other roads, such as Iverson, Fordwych and Mill Lane – so there should have been widespread notification.”

Access to Sidings Community Centre and Maygrove Peace Park will not be affected, but the pavement on the north side, by the development itself, will be closed.

Residents whose parking will be affected may find that the short notice is problematic, especially any residents with limited mobility who rely on their cars.

John Howard, project manager at Eurobuild Properties, which is carrying out the work, told West Hampstead Life that he would be on site at all time and would be happy to address any residents’ concerns.

Sue Measures, manager at Sidings Community Centre, which backs onto the park, said “whilst the centre knew of the disruption to the top of the park (which we are assured will not affect use of facilities or access to the centre), this was the first we realised that the planned closure of Maygrove Road was to be so extensive or prolonged.”

Hannah Lewin, a spokesperson for  the developer Regal Homes (Eurobuild is registered at the same address as Regal), apologised for the late notice of the announcement, but said that Camden had only just given the authorisation for the closure. The developer is planning to hold regular meetings with residents to update them on progress and listen to any issues they have. Nevertheless, after fostering a good working relationship with Sidings in the run-up to the development, the community centre will rightly be miffed that it didn’t get some advance warning of this closure.

Rob Slaney, network coordinator at Camden council, said that he knew about the proposal for the road closure about four weeks ago, but there was still no definitive plan regarding communication with residents. He didn’t sound optimistic that this would be resolved before the road closure came into effect.

Diversion signs will apparently be in place at the junction of Maygrove Road and Iverson Road and Maygrove Road and Shoot-up Hill. It would seem that signs are also needed at the junction of Fordwych and Maygrove and possibly Garlinge and Fordwych if Camden wants to minimise the number of u-turns.

West Hampstead ward councillor Keith Moffitt said there had been a bit of a breakdown in communication and that councillors had only just heard about it. Some residents were informed about the parking bay suspensions by Camden, but there was a disconnect between the parking suspensions and the road closure information.

Maygrove Road cuts across both West Hampstead and Fortune Green wards, so all six local councillors must be braced for a barrage of phone calls next week when the rest of the neighbourhood realises they can’t drive the length of the road.

Since this post was first published, Regal Homes has circulated a two-page letter with more details.

Regal Homes Maygrove Road letter by WHampstead

Here’s the text of the original letter received by some local residents:

Dear Resident

I am writing to inform you of the commencement of works to Handrail House, 65-67 Maygrove Rd. The first part of the enabling works will be to divert the existing storm drain which runs through Maygrove Peace Park into Maygrove Road. The duration of these works will be from the 27th January to the 28th April 2014.

For these works to progress we have been granted a road closure from the London Borough of Camden from no. 80 Maygrove Road to the junction of Ariel Rd.

Whilst these works are carried out the road will be fully hoarded and non-accessible to all road traffic. All parking bays within this area will also be suspended and therefore require all vehicles currently using these bays to be moved before 27th January.

We apologise for the inconvenience that these works may cause and will endeavor to keep all works to a minium.

MaygroveBlue

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.

Maygrove Rd plan scrapes over affordable housing hurdle

Last Thursday, Camden’s Development Control committee granted conditional planning permission for the development of 91 flats on 65-67 Maygrove Road.

It was a rather complicated debate. The issue was not one of architecture, nor about replacing offices with housing. Rather, it was about the low share of affordable housing and whether this should be reassessed earlier than would be normal.

CGI image: Looking west along Maygrove Road

The debate was a little hard to follow for those of us not overly familiar with the nuances of planning regulation and, at one stage, the boss of developer Regal Homes was so desperate to win councillors over that he pretty much got out his wallet and promised a large lump sum payment right then and there.

Lets start at the beginning. The idea of developing this site is relatively uncontroversial. Although Camden is rightly keen to keep employment space, the owner of Handrail House – the main existing building on the site – has struggled to find tenants for some time, and the housing need is acute as we all know. The full planning report is here.

Very wisely, given the enormous impact the new development will have on the Sidings estate, Regal Homes has been working hard to offer Sidings some incentives so that residents will support the development. During the consultation phase this strategy was met with scepticism by some.

It is unusual for Section 106 money (the contribution developers make to the local area to mitigate the impact of new residents) to be allocated to specific projects up front. This is partly because over the lifetime of a building project, priorities and projects can change. However, Cllr Risso-Gill pushed for it to be recorded in the minutes that some of the money should be ring-fenced for renovation of Sidings Community Centre, sports facilities and amenities in the Peace Park, and the overgrown area on Maygrove Road. Although this will not be written into the final formal agreement, it does seem likely that money will be spent on these areas.

CGI image: View from Brassey Road

The more challenging issue, and one that vexed several councillors, was that of affordable housing provision. Camden’s benchmark is that 50% of the floorspace of any new development should be dedicated to affordable housing. In practice this is rarely achieved and developers set out to prove that the development would not be viable at all if they conformed to this requirement as their profits would be too low. They can then be forced to make a financial contribution to fund affordable housing elsewhere in the borough.

This development proposes just 18% of floorspace for affordable housing – which translates to 12 flats out of the 91. In such cases the onus is on the developer to prove that this is the maximum viable number of units. The planning authority (Camden council) hires an independent assessor to look over these numbers. Here’s where it gets complicated. Large-scale developments take time to build. In a rising property market such as this one, the value at the time of sale could far exceed that at the time of assessment, which could of course mean that more affordable units would be viable.

In a rising market this should suit everyone. According to Camden’s independent assessors, a “modest 5% increase in sales values would improve viability by c£1.5 million.” In other words – more affordable housing could be built. In such circumstances, it’s become normal for councils to seek a “deferred affordable housing contribution” based on a re-appraisal of the scheme’s viability. However, when that reassessment takes place clearly matters. Three years is apparently standard, but can be brought forward – useful in a volatile market.

This is where the developer started to get twitchy. It felt that he saw the chances of permission being granted slipping away as councillors pushed hard on this issue. He explained that banks simply wouldn’t lend him the money if there was a lack of certainty over the return and more or less said that if the project was rejected or deferred today then it simply wouldn’t go ahead as he’d be unable to secure development finance.

In reality, it’s more likely that he could have appealed the rejection on the grounds that Camden officers had approved the plan, and had he won on appeal (I’m told this is quite likely) then other Section 106 money could have been lost as a result.

As councillors continued to push, Camden’s legal adviser explained that officers could go away and work on the wording of any permission to reflect the desire for a reappraisal closer to the completion point of the project than is usual. If the reappraisal of value determined that more affordable housing would be viable given the market value at the time, then Camden would be able to claim the money from the developer up to a capped amount based on a formula.

This is where Mr Eden, who left school at 16 and worked on market stalls before launching out into the property market, seemed to revert back to his trading roots. Clearly anxious about the direction the discussion was taking, he volunteered to add an extra £500,000 to his Section 106 money if the permission was granted tonight (see 1h58’30” in video)

Unsurprisingly, that’s not quite how development control meetings work – at least not in Camden. Frances Wheat, head of development control, explained that there was a statutory formula for calculating any deferred contribution, although this itself was capped. According to the planning documents, this could be as much as £7.7million for this development.

Finally, the vote was taken on whether to grant permission. This would be on the condition that the revisions to the timeframe for reassessing the viability of affordable housing met with councillors approval. This could happen as early as this week – if they are not approved, the whole application will come before the committee again. Eight councillors voted in favour, none against, and Cllr Risso-Gill abstained as she “was not comfortable with the application overall.” The full webcast of the meeting is below.

Of course none of this offers any guarantee that the build will take place. For all the permissions granted of late, it’s only the student block on Blackburn Road that’s making progress. Ballymore – developers of the 187-199 West End Lane strip of land – is proving difficult to pin down by anyone, even though those shops are going to shut over the next few weeks. Nor are there any signs of construction starting at the 163 Iverson Road site, where the architects told me in November that the project was on hold.

Four rescued from Maygrove Road fire

This morning I saw a tweet saying “Small house fire on Maygrove Road”. Shortly after, the London Fire Brigade tweeted “20 firefighters are tackling a house blaze on Maygrove Road”. Not such a small fire after all.

After an hour, the fire at No.39 was out. According to the fire brigade, part of second floor flat, a staircase between the first and second floors and a ground floor hallway were damaged in the blaze. Fire crews rescued a woman and a child. The woman suffered burns and smoke inhalation and the child suffered smoke inhalation. A further two men were led to safety by fire officers wearing breathing apparatus. All were taken to hospital.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

This comes two weeks after an elderly woman died in a fire in West End Court on the corner of Priory Road and Greencroft Gardens.

Cordon tape from the West End Court fire
Photo via Jon Foster

65-67 Maygrove Road: investing in Sidings

Last month Camden held a development forum public meeting to discuss the revised proposals for 65-67 Maygrove Road, commonly known as “Handrail House”.

The developer had withdrawn its previous application for the 1930s Handrail House office building because, it seemed, it was hard to make it economically viable while still having a chance of getting planning permission and the developers and Camden could not agree on the level of affordable housing. Since then, it has been able to acquire the residential building (No.67) next door the offices, and that extra space had made this a feasible project, although the precise level of affordable housing has not been settled on. As with the original plan, the proposals include imrpovements to the Sidings Community Centre facilities and sports pitch.

Handrail House and No.67 border the Peace Park

The new proposal is not just broader in scope, it’s also slightly higher, with a set-back top-floor. This makes a five storey residential terrace fronting Maygrove Road. The building would be set back from street by 4m with an evergreen hedge to the footpath along Maygrove Road. To the rear a terraced communal garden would act as a boundary between the Peace Park and the development. The architects are trying to recreate a terrace-feel with the ground floor different to the upper floors “to create variety”. The family units would have private roof terraces, while the communal garden would be for ground and lower ground floor units. Height, as always, is a contentious issue. The developers pointed out that the building will be the same height as 59 Maygrove Road (which locals objected to), although less “bulky”.

The grey building is No.59
Maygrove Road frontage
Artist’s impression

At the meeting, Gavin Sexton of Camden’s planning team laid out the considerations that would have to be taken into account if a planning application is submitted. These are: loss of employment floorspace, permanent housing as a priority use, affordable housing, sesign & impact on open space, amenity, transport, sustainable design and construction/energy, and basement development. His full presentation is at the end of this article.

Paul Eden from Regal Homes, the developer, outlined the contributions to the local community, including upgrading the community centre and Peace Park. Here you can see some of their proposals, the sports pitch is off to the right of this diagram, and the main building you see top-right is Sidings Community Centre.

Whether these investments are primarily because the developers are community minded, or whether they think that getting the Sidings estate on board with the overall plan is going to make life a lot easier, these are still good investments.

Andrew Barnett from Hopkins Architects gave an overview of his firm (which designed the Olympic velodrome and the Wellcome Trust HQ in Euston), before discussing the site in more detail [see below for full presentation]. He explained that Numbers 65 and 67 are not considered of architectural merit and are rather an odd combination with dual frontage onto Maygrove Road and the Peace Park.

There were plenty of questions, a short selection of which are outlined below.

Someone asked about the loss of business use, and there was a supplementary comment about the need for small workshops. Handrail House has been vacant for more than year despite, apparently, the best efforts of the previous owner to lease the space as both offices and workshops. Camden’s own planning policies allow for re-use of sites where there is no demand, and thus the developers see no requirement to incorporate business space. In addition, the office tenant in No.67 has already relocated to a modern office in Finchley Road. Revised marketing evidence and a planning statement would be submitted with the new application. Camden polices supports the provision of new houses.

Another question was around the proposal for yellow bricks and timber in an area that is red-brick dominated. The architect said that they hadn’t made up their minds yet and that there are many types of bricks used in the area. The use of timber, he explained, is for sustainability reasons and to address energy efficiency and improve insulation. It is also elegant and would contribute to the appearance of the building. Modern window frames (not uPVC) which would be openable for natural ventilation would be incorporated.

There was a question about basement excavation and whether the development was car free. The proposal does include a basement, which would include the 10 disabled parking spaces, bicycle storage, plant equipment and the lower floors of duplex accommodation.

Expect a proposal to become a formal planning application in the next couple of months, at which point there’ll be a full consultation process.

Maygrove may grow 100 new flats

The redevelopment of Handrail House has been on the cards for a while. A proposal last year was refused, but the developers are back with revisions and more ambition – at least in terms of scale.

No plans have been submitted to Camden yet, but on Wednesday there was an open meeting at Sidings Community Centre where the architects and developers presented their latest thinking. I wasn’t able to go, but James Earl – chair of the Neighbourhood Development Forum – was present along with local councillors.

Site up for development: click for larger version

It’s a big project, with approximately 100 flats over five storeys and now covering both Handrail House (65 Maygrove Rd) and No.67 Maygrove Road (flats at the moment). Like all other large housing projects in Camden the intention is for it to be car free (as with the Ballymore development, there is an argument as to how viable this really is), with disabled parking only. Camden is pushing for half the units to be affordable housing, and the developers are offering Section 106 money (the contributions developers have to make to the local community) for Sidings Community Centre, to lay astroturf the football pitch there, and install a café in the Peace Park.

The issues raised at the meeting included the removal of business/employment space from the site (there are currently offices at Handrail House), concerns about the design (yellow brick and quite modern), the impact on the Peace Park (several of the flats will over look it), traffic and parking on Maygrove Road, and a general concern as to whether the infrastructure in the area can cope with another 300 people.

As regular readers wil know, West Hampstead has been earmarked for intensification so more people are almost certainly going to be moving to the area – the issue is precisely where and what sort of buildings they’ll be moving into.

All the pictures were on powerpoint rather than display boards, so I’m afraid I don’t have any pics to show you although apparently the architect firm involved is the same one that designed the Olympic velodrome!

Velodrome in the Olympic Park