Battle in NW6

We would like to make you aware of the “green dispute between
the London residents in NW6, admirably represented by GARA (our Residents Association), against developers who have continuously proposed to transform a very large open green space for
private housing. So far GARA (Gondar & Agamemnon Residents Association) has been successful in denying/defeating such plans
through Camden planning Department…but the developers may
yet succeed and an important ‘green lung’ for North West Londonwill be lost on Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Watch.

GARA are arguing hard for the site’s ecological value, which is at least partly due to it being undisturbed. One of the scheme’s previously applied for by developers was “The ‘frontage’ scheme”.
This would at least have seen most of the site managed as a nature reserve with managed maintenance and school visits, but not
daily public access. 

The site has been sold on to another developer, LifeCare, who are currently appealing the refusal of their application by Camden Council and also the Mayor in 2017. Camden Council refused based on 16 issues and the Mayor on 6.  The development does not
meet the London Plan and will rob the community of a nature reserve/open space where many rare species exist. 
Camden’s officer’s report reasons for refusal (available here) and full report (here) are generally strong, including
contravention of policies relating to Open Space; biodiversity; exclusivity; height, mass and scale; affordable housing; loss of amenity; design; and to a lesser extent transport and parking.
The site, on Gondar Garden Reservoir, is only 100 of metres from two local primary schools, providing the potential of great value to both schools in terms of reducing pollution and being a wonderful site for school visits from the many local schools in the area.
We just need to get a balanced proposition, surely public ownership must be better than private development.  We need to return to the public access that was available many, many years ago. 

What is required here is Mayoral intervention to compulsory purchase this site and offer it as ‘open green space’ for the general public and perhaps schools.None of the developers’ plans appear to involve ‘social or affordable housing’ offering only high cost dwellings/retirement homes for wealthy individuals with the environmental loss of a very large green ex-reservoir space. A public park, the first for many years in North London inclusive of a protected nature reserve, would flagship the Mayor’s environmental proposals on this site. So…will you help us? This is an urgent request given that the developers have tabled another planning appeal started on 15th of January 2019, over a period of four weeks. The Mayor’s  “Strategy For London’s Environment” clearly supports any initiatives that will advance ‘the greening of our neighbourhoods’ with its objective of London becoming – ‘The First National Park City’. Our proposal/requirement is for City Hall/The Mayor to consider a compulsory purchase order of the Gondar Reservoir site for public use, maintaining a healthier environment for North West London.  This proposal sits comfortably at the heart of mayoral environmental policy objectives. Further, the Mayor’s “Greener City Fund” grant scheme of presently £12,000,000  to fund green spaces will hopefully embrace our ‘green lung’ proposal for this site in North West London for posterity and deny developers the opportunity of ruining it for profit.It doesn’t have to be the ‘Green City Fund’ such monies could come from other purses as long as we take this area into public ownership.It would be a public travesty if this site were lost.With a Mayoral initiative we could have a new park, an open green public space in north west London for the benefit of all not just the few. We have emailed the Mayor already, directly, and via our MP Tulip Siddiq in the hope that we can come together with an innovative approach to adopt and champion this proposal. Please, would you give north west London and the environment your support by emailing me and writing to the Mayor’s Office to endorse this proposal?
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
 Robin Collingwood, Michele Collingwood and Jill Henry 07710 266 384On behalf of GARAwww.gara-westhampstead.co.uk

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