Forum air quality tests to start in September
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is launching a new project to test air quality in ten locations around Hampstead.
The aim is to obtain updated data on levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and compare the results with those of a similar project in 2015. The Forum is working in partnership with Green School Runs, the Heath & Hampstead Society, and the borough of Camden.
From September 2021, volunteers will carry out the tests, for example by installing and changing the diffusion tubes that we will be using. If you are interested in helping, please email us at [email protected]. We will provide training.
The level of NO2 that we found in 2015 was surprisingly high for leafy Hampstead and inspired some of the policies in the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, which was approved by residents in a public referendum in 2018.
The new round of testing will take place over a year. Our team are being advised by Camden’s air quality officer. The readings will be reference quality, fit to stand with Camden’s official figures. We will be able to tell whether we are on track to get inside WHO-recommended limits by 2030, or if more action is needed.
As well as volunteers, we are looking for funding to add to the donations that we have already received. We thank the Heath & Hampstead Society, as well as other donors, for their generous support. We need a total of £2,000 to buy, mount and process the diffusion tubes. The Forum relies entirely on donations to fund all its activities.
We are also seeking funding to extend this project into monitoring the level of particulates - the dangerous microscopic particles that drift from car brakes and tyres into lungs and arteries. Everyone knows that Hampstead’s air is polluted by the school run, but no one knows by how much – nor how much Camden‘s Healthy School Streets programme is helping. The aim will be to build an hour-by-hour particulates profile near each school in the Forum area.
Static particulate monitors are expensive, but £5,000 will buy a monitor that produces “near-reference” quality readings on which Camden can base policy. The readings will either demonstrate that all is well, or will provide a factual basis for action.
We hope that you will consider helping to support this important work. Please click HERE to do so.
Forum's survey shows new needs from high street areas
Nearly a third of Hampstead residents are expecting to spend more time operating from home than they did before the Covid pandemic, according to the results of a survey by the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum. Read the survey results HERE.
Only 12% said they were likely to go back to full time work somewhere else when the effects of the pandemic have passed. Reflecting the high proportion of retired residents, more than half of respondents said they had already been operating from home and expected to continue doing so.
The survey carried out by the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum in April 2021 received well over 300 responses. The purpose was to assess whether the community will have changing needs from Hampstead’s two village centres, in light of the Covid pandemic and the rapid pace of change, with some 20 shops and restaurants having departed since March 2020.
As a result of the shift to home working and online shopping, 59% of respondents believed that the community’s needs in Hampstead village and South End Green would change. Among the things that respondents thought were missing from these centres were services to support home working, such as places for meeting and co-working, and office supply and IT shops.
Overall, residents viewed the pace of change on their high streets with equanimity. While 44% saw it as worrying, 30% were not worried or pleased and 26% were unsure.
A principal concern was the potential loss of small independent shops, which were seen as less able to pay high rents and rates than chains. However, it is worth noting that almost all the shops and restaurants that have closed in Hampstead since the March 2020 lockdown have been chain outlets, and that at least half of the new arrivals are freshly-established independent businesses.
Many residents viewed the departures of shops and restaurants, coupled with the arrival of new businesses, as a process of inevitable and healthy evolution.
The survey showed that by far the most serious concern of residents was heavy traffic, along with associated air pollution.
Asked to name three bad things about the village centres, over a third of respondents mentioned traffic, and a significant number were concerned about litter and uncollected rubbish. The balance between chain and independent shops was seen by many as skewed too far towards the former, with complaints that there were too many outlets that were similar to each other.
However, those concerned about imbalances in the retail offering were far outweighed by those who commented positively on the range of shops, cafés, restaurants, food stores and pubs in Hampstead. Residents commended the village atmosphere, the sense of community and belonging, as well as the beauty, charm, leafiness and historic heritage. They appreciated having, within easy walking distance, independent shops selling fresh produce. They liked the buzz and liveliness, the easy availability of public transport and the proximity of Hampstead Heath.
The answers showed that, in spite of concerns about the present state of Hampstead and the future, residents highly valued it as a place to live, and appreciated the wide range of goods and services available to them.
For the future, they wanted a greener Hampstead, with curbs on car use and more pedestrianised streets. As well as facilities to support home working, they wanted more spaces for community and cultural activities, and for sitting outside and meeting people. The idea of developing a shared vision for the future of the village centres was backed by 72% of respondents.
Protect Hampstead pubs
Most of our pubs are registered as Assets of Community Value (ACV), which gives the community the right to bid should these pubs be sold. The listings of the King William IV and the Holly Bush are expiring. We are applying to Camden to renew their ACV status but need evidence from you to support our case that the pubs are an integral part of community life in Hampstead. Please tell us in an email why one (or both) of these pubs is important to you. Please mention memorable events, social gatherings, business meetings, or other ways you have used the pub. Please send your testimonial to [email protected], including your address. Thank you for your help.
The Forum comments on planning applications in the Forum area. Our comments are based on the policies of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan as well as Camden's plan, Conservation Area Statements, and other planning regulations and guidance. You can keep track of all the Forum's comments and the outcomes on our Planning Watch page.
Funding the Forum's work
As a community organisation, the Forum relies heavily on the generosity of supporters and on time given by committee members and advisers. Government assistance helped with the costs of creating the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, but support ended in 2018. This means that we need to be fully self-supporting and to meet the costs of projects such as the work on air quality monitoring.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is a voluntary group set up by local residents. Under the terms of the Localism Act 2011, communities were given the ability to shape future development in their areas through Neighbourhood Plans. The Forum developed the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan following intensive discussions over five years with local residents, community groups and businesses.
The Neighbourhood Plan, which was passed by referendum with a 91.5% majority and adopted by Camden in 2018, set goals for Hampstead’s future, and policies to achieve them. You can read the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan here, view the Plan area here and follow the process of consultation and drafting that led to the Plan's creation here.
The purpose of the Neighbourhood Plan, and of the Forum, is not to oppose development. Rather, the Plan aims to keep Hampstead lively and contemporary, while safeguarding the fine heritage of our streets and buildings. Hampstead should be enduringly green, with the Heath, open spaces, trees and landscapes well protected. It should be safe and walkable, with good public transport. It should foster local enterprise, supporting the needs who live and work in the area as well as visitors. And it should be a strong community with good amenities.
PLANNING WATCH: The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum comments selectively on planning applications that, in our view, support or are at odds with the Neighbourhood Plan's policies. Click here to see the Forum's recent comments and to see how the Plan's policies are being taken into account in planning decisions.