A Tour of the Historic Park at Kenwood with Peter Barber OBE, FSA

Peter Barber OBE, FSA, FRHistS, formerly Head of Maps and Topography at the British Museum and President of the Hornsey Historical Society, on Sunday 12th June took us on a walk around Kenwood’s estate and through its four-hundred-year history. This is a slide show of the maps, prints and documents Peter used to illustrate the history of the estate.

Street Lighting and Crime

Our Association is conducting a spirited campaign to persuade Haringey Council to ensure that our streets, in particular Queen’s Avenue, are clearly lit when it is dark. At the same time our local Safer Neighbourhood Team has warned residents of the increasing threat from burglars as the evenings get darker and it becomes easier to identify unoccupied homes. Operation ‘Autumn Nights’, the Met’s seasonal awareness campaign to combat burglary, robbery and anti-social behaviour calls on us to make our homes less vulnerable to break-ins.

Our Chairman recently got in touch with Haringey Council and said: “The pavements are almost pitch dark in the evening in Queen’s Avenue. As Sgt. Williams of the Muswell Hill Safer Neighbourhood will confirm, the situation is getting worse and residents have been complaining for months. There is also a likelihood of increase crime such as breaking into cars.”

Will Duncan Save Ally Pally?

Our November speaker, Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Alexandra Palace and Park, hopes to return Ally Pally to its former glory and is overseeing the biggest and most realistic regeneration programme the building has ever seen. There is a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £16.5M with another £6.6M of matched funding to be found. These moneys would be put towards restoration of derelict space and putting it back into public use. If the bid is successful, works will be completed in late 2016.

Refurbishment of the East Court will provide access to the theatre, the BBC studios and to the ice rink. The historic fabric and services of the East Court would be repaired and existing features replaced. As well as making the space more attractive, it will open up new access routes within the Palace and provide a cafe and exhibition space.

The Theatre’s £8M refurbishment is the most expensive part of the proposal. It would become a ‘found space’, not a full restoration, for a wide range of activities. This would enable flexible use of the theatre to accommodate theatrical performances, music concerts, film shows, awards ceremonies, dinners and conferences. A flat floor will enable these diverse activities to take place. A single operator will not be sought for the theatre – instead individual events will be mounted by a number of interested bodies.

Accessible Bus Stop Arrives

A bus stop outside Boots on Muswell Hill roundabout for route W7 is, at last, to be built says Chris Barker, our Transport/Highway Officer. He reports that it is disappointing that the 144 will not be included. The problem is that the space there is restricted and it is necessary to ensure that only one bus is at the stop at a time. The campaign to site a bus stop here was launched to help people with mobility difficulties who find the present loading point on Muswell Hill inaccessible due to the excessively steep slope. This stop on the slope will however still be retained for school users and people from Parkland Walk.

The new bus stop with include lengthening this stretch of pavement and building out the entry point into Muswell Hill Roundabout from Dukes Avenue. The taxi rank is to be relocated to Dukes Avenue. There will be an overall six-week trial period for all these changes.

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Dustbin Discrimination: Veolia’s Recycling System Leaves Members Without Bins

Our Association sprang into action upon hearing that some of its Vallance Road members has been left without any recycling bins whatsoever following Veolia’s shake-up of its recycling collections. While most residents in this road have been given large green-lidded recycling bins, six adjacent addresses ‘approved for sacks collection’ have been denied the same facility due to Veolia’s perception of lack of space for their storage. The six addresses have the same or larger front gardens and side passages as their green binned neighbours.

Chairman John Hajdu said: “This does not make any sense. Veolia should have consulted its customers before taking this step. Singling out neighbours in this way has clearly caused problems”. He has been in touch with Veolia on behalf of the four members affected and arrangements are being made for a sit visit to determine that there really is enough room at the addresses to store the bins.

Veolia has a 14 year contract with Haringey Council to provide recycling and refuse collection as well as other services.

Will the Localism Act Save Us from Developers?

Our Conservation Officer, John Crompton offers some insights into the forthcoming Localism Act and its implications for our area.

Members may have read about the register of community assets which local authorities can now maintain. The thinking behind this has been a bit of a mystery to many of us, but the plain English version of the Localism Act provides the following useful context and explanation:

‘Every town, village or neighbourhood is home to buildings or amenities that play a vital role in local life. Local life would not be the same without them, and if they are closed or sold into private use, it can be a real loss to the community’.

It should be noted that the Act does not give community groups any preference in the bidding process and the landowners will still have the freedom to obtain what they see as the beat deal. In other words, it provides a window of opportunity for a bid to be prepared. If one is not forthcoming, then the disposal would continue as usual.

The borough Council will shortly be receiving nominations for items to be included in the Haringey register. Our Lib Dem Councillors have drawn up suggestions for the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green wards in consultation with residents and are due to produce one for the Alexandra Ward. The Committee will be looking at the lists produced by the local councillors and will make further nominations. While some will be obvious such as Parkland Walk and the pocket park in Fortis Green Road, others will be smaller in scale and perhaps not so generally well known.

It is important to bear in mind that the inclusion of an item on the register does not signify that it is under any particular threat. But we have to be alert to the fact that the Council and other public bodies are required to make considerable savings over the next few years and may be obliged to sell assets just to help balance the books. This new process could be helpful for the community to ensure the retention of valued local assets.

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Terrorism – Vigilance is Needed

Muswell Hill is at risk from terrorist attack as much as anywhere else in London – the message received by our members at our February meeting. Sgt. Underwood and Constable Kavaliares were keen to give us confidence to trust our instincts and report anything that might seem out of place. They stressed that every report is taken seriously and that we know our area and workplace better than they do.

Current threat levels are rated as “substantial” and this will increase during the London Olympics. The anti-terrorist hotline is 0800 789321.

Waitrose Comes to Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill finally said goodbye to the Slug & Lettuce pub and restaurant on 11th February. The site, which is to house upmarket grocer, Waitrose, was taken over almost instantly by squatters. Chairman John Hajdu lost no time in contacting Waitrose. Property Manager James Armstrong thanked him and said “We have reported this and are in the process of taking all appropriate steps to lawfully evict the occupiers as soon as possible.”

Waitrose had applied for planning for a “little Waitrose” convenience store, which was approved. The planning includes a new shopfront and conversion works. A condition of the approval is that all deliveries must be at the front of the building and large deliveries must be restricted to the hours of 6am to 7am on weekdays and Bank Holidays. Waitrose aims to open in July.

Flower Troughs in Bloom Thanks to Local Trader

Following cuts made by Haringey Council last year, one casualty, the flower troughs at the roundabout in Muswell Hill Broadway, have been thrown a lifeline by local trader Bones Furniture, trading at 23 Muswell Hill Broadway. They stepped forward following our Association’s request for help from the Muswell Hill Traders’ Group to restore the good looks of the troughs by replacing the compost and replanting them with some colourful blooms.

Our Environment Officer, Brian Livingston said: “The flower troughs had begun to look very ragged after the Council withdrawal of funds, so we should all be grateful that Bones has stepped forward and replanted them. They now look wonderful and really enhance our area.. Our thanks go to Elizabeth Smith, the owner of Bones and to Fredrika Debrabant from the shop, who undertook the planting.”

New Shops and Shopfronts

Our Association representative for shopfronts, Tanya Shamlian, says that she is encouraged to see lots of new shops in Muswell Hill lately. As well as taking photographs for the Association shopfronts dossier, Tanya also keeps track of new shops’ adherence to Conservation Area (CA) rules. She reports that Mint Velvet looks good while American Dry Cleaning with its corporate branding was always going to be disappointing. Barnados and Shelter, the charity shops, had predictable fit-outs but nothing garish.

Tanya also distributes Association packs to new shops reminding the owners of CA regulations and guidelines and gives them useful contact details. She has recently done this at the new Japanese restaurant replacing Melbury and Appleton on Muswell Hill Broadway.

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Crossover Controversy

A deluge of heartfelt correspondence by members on the undesirability of converting front gardens into private car parks has been received in response to an item on crossovers in November’s newsletter. The committee asked whether we should object, on principle, to local planning applications for vehicle crossovers . The response was a resounding ‘Yes’.

John Crompton, our Conservation Officer, said “The article in the November newsletter produced a flurry of very interesting and well-researched responses. It is clear that members wish the Association to take a firmer line with regard to pavement crossovers. We did not get a single response from anyone who had installed a crossover to explain why they had felt it necessary to do so. I have been the Association’s representative on the local Conservation Area Advisory Committee for many years and the loss of front gardens has been a matter of great concern throughout that period. These garden walls are a characteristic feature of the Conservation Area: the materials they are made from, unlike metal, would not have been needed as part of the war effort and so the walls look the same now as they did when the houses were built. Clinker and reclaimed bricks were largely used to build the walls so Muswell Hill people were at the forefront of recycling initiatives even then. A further point that needs to be made is that once a wall has gone it is very unlikely that it will ever be rebuilt because, as one of our members has reminded us, ‘This right (to build a crossover) is sold to an applicant by the Council in perpetuity. No time limit is applied to the presence of a vehicle crossover’.

“There are, of course, many other things not to like about the provision of crossovers – loss of trees and established greenery and attractive front gardens as well as road safety considerations for both pedestrians and other road users.”

Alexandra Palace

The newest proposal is to seek the designation of the South East wing of the Palace as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Joint Consultative and Advisory Committees heard in detail of the lengthy, torturous, bureaucratic and potentially expensive process involved: that the next review of the Tentative List would not occur until 2021/23 and that designation was unlikely to assist in attracting funding. Bearing in mind the present difficulties in funding essential repairs and restoration, members decided to recommend to the Trust Board that the aspiration be supported in principle but be pursued as part of the on-going regeneration and renovation of the fabric of the Palace.

The Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson, informed us that a bid had been made to English Heritage for funds to investigate the source of leaks into the roof of the theatre and surrounding areas.
The Park Manager emailed members of the two Committees his report, asking for rapid feedback on a proposal to carry out a foul drainage installation crossing the Park grounds to Newlands Field in addition to the surface water drainage work previously approved as part of Phase One of works intended to improve the Cricket Club grounds prior to their proposed use by Haringey Heartlands School. This included the provision of an above ground storage tank next to the Club. Many members felt that there was a mismatch between the present Park Management Plan emphasising environmental policies, the yet to be applied for planning for the MUGA hard surface area, and this rushed drainage proposal.

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