Join our Next DNPF Meeting!

Our next DPNF meeting is on Tuesday 30th March at 7.30pm.

Agenda

1. Updates:- Planning sub-group- Greening sub-group
2. Murphys Development
3. Travel & Streets – next steps
4. AGM planning

All welcome

Email us at info@dpnf.org.uk for the zoom link

DARTMOUTH PARK NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM POSITION ON MURPHY’S REDEVELOPMENT, FEBRUARY 2021


What happens at Murphys Yard, where plans for 750 homes and 71,000sqm of industrial and office floorspace are being drawn up, is so important for the future of our area. 

DPNF supports redevelopment of this brownfield site and welcomes the time that Murphy’s team has put into meeting us and the wider community, but feel that we are not being listened to and think that there is a real risk of the current proposals being rejected by planners and that returning now to the drawing board would be best for all parties, not least Murphy.

Current proposals vs Neighbourhood Plan

The Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Plan, adopted after a local referendum in 2020, forms part of the Camden Local Plan.  We have assessed the current scheme against the key principles for the site that we included in the Plan:

  • Pedestrian and cycle links through, car-free – YES
  • Preserve heritage and views (although plans to re-draw the KTNP protected view) – PARTLY
  • Mix of uses, no net loss of employment space, small business units – YES, BUT UNSURE OF THE HARD SPLIT BETWEEN USES
  • Sustainability/energy – PROMISING
  • Affordable and intermediate housing, including community-led housing, co-ops, co-housing and genuinely affordable rent – HOPEFULLY
  • The design of new housing will be informed by the terraced and apartment typologies that are prevalent in the surrounding area – NO

6 questions on character and housing mix

Our grave concerns about the designs are summarised in the questions below. We have recently posed these to Murphy. 

Character

  1. There is a range of policy documents, from the National Planning Policy Framework (“Planning policies and decisions should ensure that developments… are sympathetic to local character and history, including the surrounding built environment and landscape setting”) and National Design Guide through the Camden Local Plan and Kentish Town Planning Framework (“seamlessly integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods”) to the Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Plan that require design to be rooted in its context.  Please can you explain how the wall of towers and tall buildings, rising to 19 storeys, has anything to do with the character of any of the surrounding neighbourhoods? This is a question about character and quality of place of the new development, not views of it or the impact on the 5 adjacent Conservation Areas, which will be a separate and important planning consideration.
  1. To give us an idea of what the place will feel like, which successful neighbourhoods have inspired the design of the housing area? 
  1. Do the plans achieve the appropriate grain for a successful place? Somewhere that feels homely, with interwoven streets rather than big piazzas, and integrating with the streets (and green spaces) around.
  1. What would Neave Brown do with this fantastic opportunity?

Housing mix and zoning

  1. What will the housing mix be and who are all the flats for? Don’t we need more family housing – we now have primary schools closing in Camden because housing policy and prices are forcing families out, including Carlton School immediately over the railway currently under consultation?  We need stable, rooted communities, with a range of types and tenures. 
  1. Why such a hard split between housing and employment zones?  Previous proposals integrated these elements much more throughout the site with residential units above the work units – mixed use sites with studios for creatives. This all appears to have been lost in this proposal.

Successful neighbourhoods for quality of life

We have provided Murphy with a number of examples of recent high quality development, which tends to be high density/low rise in the proud tradition of Camden Council housing.  We feel that the examples given here would be an excellent starting point.

What next?

We worry the opportunity to create a place that responds to the area’s special urban character, and that draws on a serious understanding of the lessons of what makes for a successful city neighbourhood, is being squandered. People are keen to help shape the Murphy’s development through a creative exercise, and there are lots of skills to offer. 

We appreciate that we have been consulted but it would be wonderful to be able to influence, to come together to engage in a creative, collective way. There is a wide pool of interested talent in the area. A meaningful programme of co-designing from first principles, based on a shared understanding of the parameters that Murphy’s designers need to achieve, could chart a new way forward.

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Community Conversations Update Drafting the Dartmouth Park Design Charter 23rd February 6-8pm

All attendees of the two recent conversations organised by Urban Movement as well as those who were not able to come along are invited to attend a final DRAFT Design Charter Workshop on the 23rd of February 6-8pm, where Urban Movement will be presenting the draft design charter. Attendees will have the chance to feedback on the charter and raise any points that may not have been covered already. The workshop will be hosted online via Zoom, anyone who wishes to attend can sign up here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMscuuqqjIuE9XFrCJxuZctxZNyX9b_o6zv Some key pieces of research were mentioned in the sessions, links to which are provided below: Information / studies on the economic impacts of providing for walking and cycling: Information / studies on the impacts of reducing / removing through-traffic:

Safer Streets

In January, Urban Movement hosted two Community Conversations online. These sessions were aimed at gathering local opinion on traffic and streetscape issues in Dartmouth Park, and identifying key parameters that any potential interventions for the area will need to meet to address them. The sessions were well-attended and garnered interesting and passionate discussions, and Urban Movement and Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum would like to thank all who attended for their contributions. For anyone who was not able to attend the sessions, recordings will be posted shortly.

More details including recordings of the events can be found here:

Next steps:

All attendees of both sessions as well as those who were not able to come along are invited to attend a final Ideas Workshop on the 23rd of February 6-8pm, where Urban Movement will be presenting the draft design charter. Attendees will have the chance to feedback on it and raise any points that may not have been covered already. The workshop will be hosted online via Zoom, anyone who wishes to attend can sign up here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMscuuqqjIuE9XFrCJxuZctxZNyX9b_o6zv

Some key pieces of research were mentioned in the sessions, links to which are provided below:

Information / studies on the economic impacts of providing for walking and cycling:

Information / studies on the impacts of reducing / removing through-traffic:

DPNF comments on Chester Road Planning Application

Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum would like to ensure that residents are aware of the forum’s response to the proposed development in Chester Road. Details below:

Comments on Planning Application 2020/3461/P – 2 Chester Road

The proposed development would provide a hostel for the temporary accommodation of homeless families, in some cases women and their children at risk of violence.  The new development would provide 50 new dwellings in three blocks (3 and 4 storeys) arranged around a central communal garden.  The application proposes the demolition of the existing building on the site, until recently used as a hostel for single person temporary accommodation.

The Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum supports the development in principle.  The provision of this facility is consistent with the objective of the Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Plan to support a variety of housing and community facilities in the area.  However, we do have concerns about the detail of the proposed development.

1          We object to the demolition of the existing building, without proof that this is essential.

(a)        Camden’s Local Plan Policy CC1(e) requires all proposals that involve substantial demolition to demonstrate that it is not possible to retain and improve the existing building. The case has not been made to show that demolition is necessary and that the building cannot be maintained and refurbished for continued use as a hostel (or for some other beneficial purpose).  We also question the assertion that the existing building has reached the end of its life. These issues need to be explored in order to meet the Policy as to demolition.

(b)        In addition, with Covid -19 the likelihood of enduring changed working patterns and reduced need for office space suggests that there may be opportunities to repurpose an existing building in the borough as a hostel instead.  A number of vacant office buildings could, with minimal refurbishment, provide suitable space to house the homeless. This would avoid the need to demolish a building that could still provide years of service.

(c)        The building was designed by Bill Forrest, one of the excellent young architects in Camden’s architecture department in the 1960s and 70s who designed some of the finest social housing in the country, including the Highgate New Town development of which the hostel formed part.  The demolition of such a thoughtful and high quality building in a conservation area is deplorable.

(d)        The demolition of the existing building, with its large embodied carbon, is not consistent with sustainability objectives. 

2          The proposed buildings are too large and domineering for the site in the heart of a residential neighbourhood. 

(a)        Even the three storey block on Chester Road will be significantly (up to a storey) higher than the neighbouring houses.  The four storey block on Dartmouth Park Hill will present a sheer cliff-like appearance to the road.

(b)        We welcome the landscaping of Colva Walk and the provision of ramps in place of steps.  However, we are concerned that the Colva Walk passage would be overwhelmed by the sheer wall of the building, and that the passage would become a wind and noise tunnel.

3          The accommodation provided for residents is poor. The proposed number of residents (up to 200 in 50 units) is too high, resulting in cramped accommodation.  In addition, although there is a central communal garden, there is no provision of private outdoor space such as balconies.  These constraints are a concern, especially in the light of greater known risks in relation to viruses now and in the future, compared with when the design was developed.  We would prefer to see more generous allocations of space for a smaller number of vulnerable families, which would ameliorate over-crowding and avoid any undue impact on local infrastructure such as medical facilities.

4          The design of the façade is poor.

(a)        The development is entirely inward facing, with little engagement with the community. 

(b)        The proposed continuous façade is bleak and monolithic, with no setbacks, balconies or other features to break up the bulk and create a more domestic scale to blend with the neighbourhood.

(c)        It is proposed to clad the buildings in shiny green tiles with a curving and asymmetric profile.  The choice of these tiles is arbitrary and capricious, and has no connection or reference to the materials used in the area; the green of the tiles, in particular, is completely at odds with the warm red, brown and yellow bricks of the surrounding streets.

5          We welcome the use of prefabricated offsite construction methods and the inclusion of underfloor electric heating, air source heat pumps and green roofs. 

COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON STREETS AND TRAFFIC

Following the Streets for People survey in the summer, we are pleased to announce that a funding bid to Camden Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy fund was successful and we now are able to start some work to explore the community’s views in more depth.

Following a competitive tender process, urban design and transport practice Urban Movement have been appointed to undertake this work. They have extensive experience of working with communities to build consensus and co-design projects, with the added bonus of local knowledge that should stand them in good stead for the project.

Over the coming months they will be engaging with residents, businesses, schools and local politicians to hear all views and gather ideas to agree how we may address the traffic and streetscape issues in the area in and around Dartmouth Park. To this end, Urban Movement will be contacting businesses directly to gain their input, and are meeting with schools and politicians on a one-to-one basis (remotely) to understand their concerns and hear their ideas.

A key part of the project is the need for a forum for people to have their views heard, and we are pleased to announce two online Community Conversations in January 2021:

  • Friday 15th January 12:00-13:00 – register here
  • Tuesday 19th January 18:00-20:00 – register here

Because of the current COVID-19 restrictions these conversations will be held online (via Zoom) and are designed to be forums for people to air their views and work together towards developing solutions. They will be identical, so please only attend one to ensure that everyone who wishes to participate is able to. All are welcome to attend, but you must register in advance to ensure you have a spot.

If you know someone who does not have access to the internet but would like to contribute, please send their details to us at dartmouthparkstreets@gmail.com and we will make contact.

After the conversations have taken place, Urban Movement will take the views and solutions put forward and develop a ‘design brief’ with possible solutions, which will be published here for all to see. Following this, a final Ideas Workshop will be held online in February 2021 (date TBC) where everyone will be invited to comment on the brief and collaboratively develop proposals in a similar forum to the community conversations.

Hampstead Heath Lockdown changes

In line with the latest Government advice, Hampstead Heath will be temporarily closing the majority of our facilities to support the new national restrictions from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. They will be keeping a close eye on announcements from the Government and if anything should change they will respond quickly and keep the public informed. 

Closures will include:  

·         Parliament Hill Athletics Track 

·         Tennis Courts at Parliament Hill, Golders Hill Park and Queen’s Park 

·         The Parliament Hill Fields Lido 

·         The Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds 

·         Weddings (GHP & QP) 

·         Childrens Farm (QP) 

·         Zoo (GHP – the central passageway) 

·         The pitch and putt at Queen’s Park 

·         The Peggy Jay Centre 

·         The Adventure Playground and Clubhouse 

·         Guardians Gym (at the Lido) 

·         Winter Swimming Club 

·         Football and Rugby 

·         Volunteering 

·         Licenced Events e.g. workshops, children’s activities, Be Military Fit and the Hampstead Winter Swimming Club. 

The Heath intend to keep the public toilets open and they will continue to empty litter bins throughout this period, although they do still ask that visitors take their rubbish and waste away with them wherever possible. The car parks and our playgrounds will also remain open and the cafe’s will be available for a takeaway service. 

Queen’s Park, Highgate Wood and Golders Hill Park (including the Hill Garden & Pergola) opening hours will remain as advertised.  

School outdoor learning activities led by the Learning Team will continue, as will Licenced Forest School activities for Ofsted Registered Early Years Providers. 

Filming that has been agreed with the City of London’s Film Office and is COVID Secure will continue. 

They expect that the Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park will be very busy during this period as people visit to exercise or meet with one person from another household.  

Signage on site is being updated and will remind visitors to follow the latest Government’s Guidance, be considerate towards Staff and other visitors.  

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE

From The Camdenist, 4 September 2020:
The big redevelopment of Gospel Oak’s Murphy’s Yard site, potentially including 750 new homes and a landscaped new walk between Kentish Town and Hampstead Heath, moves on to the next phase with a public forum. 

From The Camdenist, 14 August 2020: (scroll down to find mention of the DPNF ‘Streets for People’ survey).

Article from Hampstead & Highgate Express, 17 August 2020:
Dartmouth Park survey shows support for Swain’s Lane closure – but butcher calls it a ‘terrible’ idea.

Article from Hampstead & Highgate Express, 27 May 2020:
Highgate Newtown Community Centre: Neighbourhood forum raise noise and safety concerns over demolition plan.

Article from Hampstead & Highgate Express, 7 May 2020:
Opinion: We don’t need to wait for Covid-19 to be over to plan a better economy – Maya de Souza & Farhana Yamin.

Article from Hampstead & Highgate Express, 27 February 2020:
Opinion: Making London a true National Park City – Sian Berry.

Article from Hampstead & Highgate Express, 12 February 2020:
Dartmouth Park referendum: Neighbourhood plan wins vote.