West Hampstead Gardens and Residents Association (WHGARA) was started in 2011 to oppose inappropriate rear extensions at the back of adjoining houses in the neighbourhood. It evolved into an activist campaigning group to protect West Hampstead’s social, environmental and community assets during a period of intense change and overdevelopment.
At first our membership covered Hemstal Road, Sherriff Road and the roads between and we welcomed residents from other nearby areas to join as friends. Below is a list of neighbourhood issues which we’ve been involved in over the past years.
OUR ISSUES, CONCERNS and ACTIVITIES
Commenting on impact of developments:
- Buildings too high and / or too large,
- Destroying character of the area and setting a precedent for further over-development,
- Too much residential development without sufficient education, health or transport infrastructure,
- Insufficient proportion of affordable housing,
- Loss of affordable business space,
- Architectural design and landscaping issues
- Wholesale destruction of mature trees
WHGARA’s represents the views of local people whose lives will potentially be affected by over-development, putting forward our opinions to appropriate individuals and organisations with the aim of influencing decision-making locally..
- Monitoring development proposals as early as possible and obtaining information prior to submission of planning applications
- Keeping members informed about what’s happening and discussing this at meetings / via Zoom, email etc
- Attending public exhibitions and consultations about forthcoming developments,
- Commenting on and where necessary objecting to proposed developments prior to planning application stage, by writing & speaking to local councillors, other council members, council officials, the local MP, Network Rail, developers and any other involved agencies (Thames Water, TFL, London Overground, etc)
- Representing members’ views at Development Management Forums and providing feedback to WHGARA membership
- Studying council planning policy in detail and assessing whether it conforms to Camden, London Plan and NDF Plan.
- Direct action: Tree Vigil & objections to Camden Tree Section, opposing Network Rail tree felling programme,
- Supporting and Liaising with other local groups campaigning against excessive development, e.g. Save Swiss Cottage, Save West Hampstead: Stop the Blocks,
- Formal responses to planning applications.
- During construction – representation on Community Construction Group re construction issues – e.g. traffic, noise, pollution.
Interests in Immediate Neighbourhood:
- The tube station – urgent need for step-free lift access
- Traffic management and road & pavement safety on West End Lane
- Excessive and potentially damaging residential developments
- Noise (e.g. scaffolding alarms) and unsocial hours noise
- Loss of Private trees and monitoring LBC Street Tree Management
- Litter and Fly-tipping
- Erratic waste management and collections
- Local crime: lack of police cover
- Homelessness and rough sleepers
- Opposing excessive & ugly advertising – estate agents’ boards, promotional phone boxes and pavement clutter
WHGARA is apolitical and aims to represent and support all the views of local people to influence outcomes where possible. As a responsive, informed local group, we engage with issues on behalf of residents and ratepayers without fear or favour.
- Informing residents, members and friends about current and future issues – bringing topics to meetings for discussion and decisions -by vote
- Communicating our views to relevant authorities, council members, officers, the police, trades people etc
- Open dialogue with local ward councillors.
- Inviting guest speakers from local police, basement development experts, local councillors, council officers (street environment), StreetSafe team leader, Veolia etc
- Responding to formal consultations about council policy, petitions, planning and licencing applications.
- Monitoring webcasts of formal meetings about council policy and decisions.
- Contact with other local groups e.g. WHAT, CRASH, the NDF, MILAM, RedFrog,NW6 and other residents’ groups.