Property News: Caroline Hill on new local routes – The Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum outlines plans for the future
Thursday, 26th January 2012
Published: 26 January 2012
by DAN CARRIER
A NEW through route from Regis Road to Gospel Oak, better protection for older buildings and encouraging developers to come up with schemes that would be welcomed by residents were just some of the ideas that were proposed at the inaugural meeting of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum.
Around 80 residents gathered at the Greenwood Place Community Centre last Thursday and, as well as electing a committee, the meeting heard a variety of suggestions as to how NW5 could be improved.
The forum will cover an area stretching from Highgate Road in the north to Brecknock Road in the east, Camden Road in the south and west towards Talacre Gardens.
Made up of a number of civic groups and residents, it will offer planning advice to developers and the council and run campaigns on behalf of people living in the area.
Founding member Caroline Hill, who for many years has helped run Kentish Town Road Action, spoke of a variety of early schemes the forum would investigate.
The proposal to link the northern end of Kentish Town by Regis Road – where Camden Council’s recycling centre and the Royal Mail’s district sorting office can be found – to Gospel Oak is not a new scheme.
There was once a public right of way that was lost when railways cut the land in two.
The forum believe it would help ease congestion in Highgate Road and Gordon House Road and could even save lives by cutting down emergency response times for ambulances based in Lawn Road, and police cars who operate from the Holmes Road station.
They also want to see pedestrian access from the top end of Regis Road to Arctic Road re-opened, creating a short cut-through to Queen’s Crescent and potentially helping to boost trade at the area’s street market.
Forum chairwoman Ms Hill said: “The idea is to form the neighbourhood forum for the area and decide and work out what development we think could happen and where we do not want to see it.”
She said that the “to do” list included seeking better protection of Kentish Town landmarks: “We want to see local listing introduced as soon as possible to give our landmarks protection.”
She cited the recent case of the former North London Polytechnic building in Prince of Wales Road that has been hanging under the shadow of the wreckers’ ball for four years, and was only saved from demolition late last year when a Whitehall planning inspector backed Kentish Town campaigners who had been fighting to stop a developer pulling down the 1927 building.
Other issues include the scale of new buildings.
Ms Hill said: “We also want to see the heights of new buildings limited and a discussion on the façades along shop fronts.”
Green group Transition Kentish Town have signed up to be part of the forum which will also campaign to protect open spaces.
Ms Hill said: “Looking after our environment is a fundamental aspect of the group.
We want to look at how we can encourage people to respect their environment and be a setting to discuss green issues.”
The health of the main shopping street, Kentish Town Road, will also be on their watch.
Ms Hill added: “We want to help the economy in our area flourish, and protect independent shops in Kentish Town Road and maintain a wide range of shops there.”
The idea for forums stemmed from the government’s Localism Bill which states that a minimum of 21 people must be recognised by the council and that, once inaugurated, the forum will have a statutory role in helping shape planning issues in their neighbourhoods.
The Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum has also co-opted an ad-hoc group of 10 experts in planning and architecture to offer advice on different topics as they arise.