Come to the Skittle Alley Coffee & Pantry

IMG_5581Skittle Alley Coffee & Pantry is situated in the old Skittle Alley of The Black Lion Pub, in South Black Lion Lane, adjacent to the river in Hammersmith.  Two local residents opened the space last October in order to provide a community hub, coffee shop, pantry and, on Saturday mornings, a small farmers’ market.

IMG_5584The alley is open every weekday morning from 8.30am-12noon and on Saturdays from 9am – 1pm.  They serve freshly roasted coffee from Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, bread and cakes from Sally Clarke Bakery and have an array of carefully chosen pantry goods, many made by local friends and neighbours.  The Slow Food movement have recently endorsed the Saturday food market and the cafe has been awarded “Happy Cafe” status for providing an engaging and stimulating centre for the community.

Council snubs local cyclists

Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner, has been riding the route of Cycle Superhighway 9 in Hammersmith and Fulham but Hammersmith and Fulham Council haven’t allowed local cycling representatives to meet Mr Gilligan

John Griffiths of HF Cyclists says:

“It is perhaps surprising in light of the Council’s pledge for community involvement, that a representative from our group was not invited along.”

They would have liked to have discussed the Mayor’s Better Junction Review.

I hope that Mr Gilligan may be able to meet the cyclists another time despite the Council’s disappointing approach.

Thanksgiving Service to celebrate HM Queen Elizabeth II becoming our longest serving monarch

holyinnocentsqueenA Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the Queen’s milestone as the UK’s longest serving Monarch will be held at Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road, W6, at 10am on Sunday 13th September.

The service will be followed by a reception in aid of local charities, where people will have an opportunity to share their memories of the Coronation. Afterwards to mark both the event and the relaunch of The Thatched House, a lunch will be held.

Please contact administrator@HISJ.Co.UK  to book spaces by September 9, at own cost. There will be a collection in Aid of Angola London Mozambique Association (ALMA) and our Partners-in-Mission in the Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

What colour should Hammersmith Bridge be?

Hammersmith BridgeIn his latest bulletin Tom Ryland, the Chairman of the Hammersmith Society, writes:

“Despite recent emergency closures, the bridge is due to be completely closed next year for a more radical overhaul and strengthening to allow double decker buses to use it again. (They were banned when there were previous structural problems). Our understanding is that this work is likely to take six months from next summer. The works will also involve repainting (and relighting). When it was last repainted, many lamented the loss of the more decorative treatment in pastel colours by the London County Council. The replacement in what many people refer to as Harrods green came about after studies of the original paint scheme by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1887 and was strongly advised by English Heritage. A new lighting scheme was also installed by the Council and which won a Hammersmith Society Environment Award in 2001, but the deck lighting has proved unreliable and difficult to maintain. The Hammersmith Society Committee feel that there is an opportunity to revisit both the colour and the lighting and that an exciting way to explore possibilities would be for an open competition : We would be happy to organise this but obviously there would need to be agreement with both the Council and TfL who are funding the main project.

Do let us know what you think!”

Richard Owen responds:

“On the subject of Hammersmith Bridge I welcome plans for an overhaul of arguably London’s most beautiful river crossing.

Personally I would not open up the question of colour scheme. The existing green and gold scheme is both historically accurate and beautiful. I understand the bridge spent the first year of its life in 1887 in a pale pink undercoat before being painted green in 1888, which may have implanted a folk memory that this was its ‘correct’ colour.

There are still important questions though:

1) Will the overhaul include a full strip/gritblast of very many existing paint layers as in the case of the restoration of Tower Bridge completed 2011?
2) There are actually two distinct shades of green in the scheme – a bright acidic green at lower levels and a dustier bronze green elsewhere. Is this intentional/correct or just the result of a partial and poorly matched repaint? Which one is Bazalgette’s colour?
3) There are large heraldic decorations at each end of the bridge (including the coat of  arms of United Kingdom!) which were originally visible in their correct colours but  have since  been painted out. These could, indeed I think should, be reinstated.”

Why won’t H&F Council publish property developers viability assessments?

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly is calling for an end to the confidentiality of the viability assessments in planning applications from property developers.

This was the sort of cause that Labour in Hammersmith and Fulham used to be keen on – when they were in opposition. Since they took control of the Council last year they have got rather more keen on cosy private deals with property developers. It allows them to make all sorts of claims about when a splendid deal they have negotiated without having to cope with proper scrutiny of the reality.

John Finlayson, the Council’s Head of Planning and Regeneration, writes to tell me the administration’s policy:

“Over the last decade issues relating to the financial viability of development have become increasingly important in the English planning system. Financial viability is a material planning consideration in terms of the likelihood of the proposed development being carried into effect. This can be a very important issue when assessing the acceptability or otherwise of a development proposal, particularly where the proposal may not accord with the targets set by planning policy. The government encourages local planning authorities not to impose requirements on developers which render proposals non-viable unless serious harm would arise.

In order for the Council as planning authority to properly determine the effect of planning requirements on development viability, the assessment and negotiation of planning applications frequently involves the consideration of financial and commercial appraisals prepared by developers. Such appraisals invariably contain commercially confidential and sensitive information. Where such information is provided by an applicant to the Council on a commercially confidential basis, the Council is under a duty to not to disclose that information to anyone else unless allowed or required to do so by law.

Applicants do typically seek to place confidential restrictions on all aspects of viability information. This normally takes the form of seeking an exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 on the basis that this would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial information which protects a legitimate economic interest. The current approach to financial viability is therefore somewhat opaque and any move to greater transparency will be very much dependent on the approach of the courts to disclosure.

In LBHF since 11 October 2011 there has been a Disclosure of Confidential Information Protocol. The Protocol deals with information which is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Local Government Act 1972. The protocol was prepared by Legal and Planning officers and it sets out further guidance in respect of requests by Committee members for information relevant to planning matters submitted in confidence by third parties. The protocol should be read in conjunction with the Local Protocol For Officers On Access To Information in the Council’s Constitution.”

So there we have it. No convincing reason for secrecy. The Council could insist on transparency in this regard. What have the property developers got to hide? But the Council chooses not to. Don’t blame Mr Finlayson – blame his political masters.

My own view is that transparency would actually help boost the confidence and understanding of residents in the planning system and thus help get the homes built that are wanted.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.