The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum has a year-long project under way to monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in our air. Monthly readings are being taken from diffusion tubes set up all around Hampstead. The first two months of laboratory data suggest a reduction in NO2 pollution compared with the levels we recorded six years ago, though it remains in excess of legal limits.
However, the Forum's chair, Stephen Taylor, cautions that with ten months of readings still to go, it is too early to draw conclusions.
Katharina Schauer and Francesca Agostini, of Green School Runs, are leading our air monitoring project. We thank them and we're grateful to donors who have helped to fund the Forum's work, including the Heath & Hampstead Society.
The core of the Forum's work remains our stewardship of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, which took its place alongside the Camden Local Plan in 2018 after being approved by 91% of voters in a public referendum.
Janine Griffis, the Forum committee member in charge of planning matters, reports that we submit comments on relatively few planning applications, and usually regarding just some parts of a proposal. Quite often, applications are modified following comments from the Forum and other bodies, as well as from neighbours, and are then approved by Camden. Some of our comments are in support of proposals that we feel would enhance the area. You can follow the Forum's comments and the outcomes on our Planning Watch page HERE.
The vast majority of planning applications conform to the policies of the Camden and Hampstead Plans and are approved by Camden.
Looking ahead, Janine says that in 2022 we will begin to review the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan for possible amendments. The Plan was the result of four years of public consultation, but we need to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.
For example, we have learned from experience that language could be made clearer in some areas. While the Plan's broad vision still seems right, environmental concerns have increased in the past decade, and the pandemic may have altered the ways people live and work in our community.
If you have particular thoughts about the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan, please email us at [email protected]
. You can read the Plan and its supporting materials here.
Pandemic's effects on high streets
The sight of numerous shops and restaurants closing down during lockdown prompted the Forum to monitor the health ofour high street areas and to think about ways to ensure their continuing vitality.
This led to a survey of residents' views carried out in April 2021. Alex Nicoll, Forum vice chair, says the survey revealed strong views on a wide range of subjects. While some residents were worried about the pace of change as retail outlets closed and were replaced by new ones, others welcomed this and saw it as part of continuing and inevitable evolution.
Concerns about loss of independent shops and imbalances in the retail offering were outweighed by positive comments on the range of shops, cafés, restaurants, food stores and pubs. Residents commended the village atmosphere, the sense of community and the area's beauty, leafiness and historic heritage. They liked the buzz, the good tube service and the proximity of Hampstead Heath.
Road traffic was by far the biggest concern, and there was support for making high street areas more welcoming for pedestrians. You can read a summary of the survey results here
Alex notes that in terms of sheer numbers of businesses in Hampstead village and South End Green, the area has emerged fairly unscathed. Although some 30 shops and hospitality venues have closed since the first lockdown in March 2020, the same number have opened or are known to be on the way. Most notably, the Old White Bear and Magdala pubs reopened after long closures, and Sainsbury's will open in 2022.
Funding the Forum
The Forum relies entirely on donations to fund its work. We really appreciate the generosity and support of the Hampstead community.
Clyde Whittaker, treasurer, notes that we will continue to need donations in 2022 to support the air quality project and the other (very low) costs of our activities, such as annual fees to service providers for our website. The Forum's work is done entirely by volunteers who give their time.
Please consider supporting the work of the Forum with a donation. Details can be found here.
Or send an email to [email protected]
. Thank you.
We are very grateful indeed to all those donors who have generously funded our work.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is a voluntary group set up by local residents. Under 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.