Update on King Street cinema site

The Council are remaining pretty secretive regarding fiasco of the Town Hall redevelopment scheme – which was abandoned after the cinema (a “building of merit”) had been demolished. The financial viability of the scheme had been brought into question after the Council demanded extra Section 106 money from their development partners on the scheme Helical Bar. Now with the project abandoned the Council won’t get any Section 106 money, will probably be obliged to spend millions buying the land where the cinema and face delays during which the huge maintenance bill for the Council’s awful town hall extension will continue.

What an almighty stuff up.

Anyway apparently new plans are under way. I’m told that the under the proposed new scheme will include a replacement cinema (provided by Curzon) also that the town hall extension will go. The architects involved are Richard Rogers so whatever is built will be pretty hideous – but could scarcely manage to be worse than what is there at present. There is a plan for 210 flats of which half will be “affordable” (whatever that turns out to mean). The housing association that it is proposed will be involved is A2Dominion. I have some concerns about them as a landlord. Only yesterday I was talking to residents in Invermead Close (which they own) and came away with a litany of complaints about delays with repairs, failure to deal with rats, poor parking arrangements and so on.

The grandly named “Town Hall Development Commission” is supposed to be “resident-led”. This is a bit of a joke. It has four people on it – the council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan, a couple of architects and Melanie Whitlock. I think Melanie is a capable, independent minded and public spirited figure. But she is just one resident – and she is the first to say that she does not pretend to represent anyone other than herself.

There is due to be an exhibition of the new plans in November.

Beware of the Ravenscourt Park terrapins

The Friends of Ravenscourt Park report that someone has unfortunately released terrapins into the lake at Ravenscourt Park. If they are allowed to grow they can bite off a child’s finger – as well as biting off the legs of ducks and harming other wildlife.

The Parks Manager tells me:

“Parks Police, as promised at the friends’ AGM made contact with the Barnes Wetland Centre who in turn advised that terrapins are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  This means if we do manage to catch it we cannot kill it but will need to arrange for it to be taken to a suitable centre.  A bigger job is going to be catching a small animal in a large pond.  Terrapins are not easy to catch so this will need to be an ongoing aim.”

I’m afraid that really isn’t good enough, is it?

There was the same problem in Hampstead Heath’s bird sanctuary pond and other ponds on the Heath a few years ago. They have managed to set traps and catch them. It seems it wasn’t always easy – “the Steve McQueen of terrapins” kept tearing away at the chicken wire. But the City of London Corporation (which owns and manages the Heath) persisted. Delay just makes the problem worse.

 

Hammersmith Society warns against flawed “Cycle Superhighway” plan

Recently I wrote about the flawed “Cycle Superhighway” plan from Transport for London.

Now Tom Ryland, the Chairman of the Hammersmith Society, has written to his members expressing concern and urging them to respond to their consultation.

He says:

I personally have talked to a number of local residents and cyclists who without exception are unhappy with the scheme as it stands.

In addition to the points of objection set out below, the following issues should also be noted :

1. The consultation exercise is flawed in that only residents near the route have been notified, but these proposals will affect all users of Hammersmith and Chiswick. (For example, no TfL letters have been sent to residents living north of Goldhawk Road). 

2. On other existing Cycle Superhighways, TfL concede that levels of pollution have increased because of the slowing of the traffic.

3. There will be a loss of at least 6 mature trees (3 in Hammersmith : 3 in Chiswick). Other trees are also likely to be endangered where the new cycle route will be laid over tree roots.

4. In Chiswick, where some pavements will be narrowed, there will be insufficient space for the existing café tables.

5. The arguments against using the largely unused wide verges adjacent the A4 seem to revolve around pollution (Is it really that much worse than adjacent the other busy roads?) and that there are too many ‘turnings’ (But on the Hammersmith section, there are only Weltje and Rivercourt Roads and the petrol filling stations).

6. TfL say that their plans take into account their previous consultation in 2016 on the cycle routes on the broadway – but this was flawed because it only addressed the northern half of the Broadway and ignores the A4 and Fulham Palace Road.

So here are main objections/concerns : 

– It does not seem that there is proven need for such a drastic scheme along this route. (TfL argue that it will attract cyclists).

– Cycle Superhighways encourage high speed relatively long distance commuter cycling and would be of no benefit to a town centre such as King Street that is already struggling.

– High speed cycling can be very intimidating to pedestrians and slower cyclists (Many cyclists I have spoken to tell me they will not use the Cycle Superhighways because they are intimidated by the other cyclists).

– The main ‘high street’ section of King Street including its already very narrow. The scheme will involve further restrictions on footway widths for pedestrians and road widths (single lane) for buses and traffic generally. There will be no allowance for passing, stopping off, breakdowns and emergencies, deliveries and servicing to shops and banks or parking in King Street. This will almost certainly lead to regular traffic snarl ups in King Street and delay bus times.

– The slowed or stationary traffic will lead to an increase in pollution levels.

– Some existing bus lanes will be removed and bus stops relocated sometimes onto ‘traffic islands’, which will be intimidating for users, particularly the frail or elderly and users with pushchairs.

– The closing off and restricted use of some turnings off King Street (Eg. British Grove) will be disruptive to local residents and businesses and often quite impractical.

– The existing cycle contraflow in King Street does cause problems to cycle users and pedestrians but as an alternative to the two-way Cycle Superhighway, it could be retained (as a ‘Quietway’) and extended for the rest of King Street and onto the Broadway.

– The use of other roads (Eg Glenthorne Road/Blacks Road) and the A4 verges must be considered.

– The Cycle Superhighway should not be bulldozed through as an end in itself but should be considered in conjunction with long term re-organisation of the Broadway and King Street which although part of the draft Local Plan seem to have been kicked into the long grass.

Transport for London TfL who are promoting and consulting on the scheme will potentially drive it through unless there is a groundswell of opinion against the scheme.

This scheme must be rethought : Please make your views known to TfL and Hammersmith and Fulham Council before the deadline of 31 October 2017. (And of course let us know).

Full details of the scheme including several computer generated images, and how to comment can be found at:
consultations@tfl.gov.uk/cs9 or you can write to them at FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS.”

All good points. But Tom didn’t mention the money. This disastrous scheme would cost £70 million. Just imagine the alternative ways that cycling could be advanced with that funding without causing all this disruption to others?

For instance in 2013, under the previous Conservative administration, Boris Bikes were introduced to Hammersmith and Fulham. There was a significant cost in setting it up – there were a lot of “docking stations” and the technology is rather sophisticated. That cost or £2 million was covered through Section 106 payments from property developers. What about spending another million or two to increase its availability into the north of the borough? The Council refuses even my modest request for docking stations at Starch Green and the junction of Brackenbury Road and Goldhawk Road.

The “Men’s Shed” is a great idea

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

I love this idea of the “Men’s Shed”. Particularly if it allows older men to transfer traditional skills that they may have to a younger generation.  As well as talk, bond, and chat.  The creation of additional “shared space” that people can go to is so important in this crowded-but-can-be-lonely city.    This is from Fulham Good Neighbours:

You are cordially invited to join us at an organisational meeting for Fulham Men’s Shed on Tuesday, 7thNovember 2017 at 6PM at Rosaline Hall, 70 Rosaline Road, London, SW6 7QT

We want to help create a meeting place for local men (and women), where ‘Shedders’ can engage in wood work or other activity, or simply in putting the world to rights over a cup of tea.

The Men’s Shed movement originates in Australia and there are quite a few already established in the UK.  In the words of one ‘Shedder’: ‘From a young age, boys are taught to ignore their feelings, that emotions are a sign of weakness, and, in short, to ‘man up’. In later life, when confronted with life changes like retirement or divorce, it’s no wonder that many struggle to cope, and are faced with isolation and a loss of self-worth. This is why Men’s Sheds are absolutely vital; providing men with a sense of purpose, new friendships and encouraging talents like carpentry and metal work, skills perhaps unused for a number of years. Having an outlet like Men’s Sheds to combat negative feelings can be a life saver.’

So why not come along and bring all your mates who might be interested in taking part together with your ideas on getting the group going to:

Fulham Good Neighbours

Rosaline Hall

70 Rosaline Road

London, SW6 7QT

Tel. 020 7385 8850

Email: info@fulhamgoodneighbours.org

If you cannot make that date or this information reached you too late, please email or call Fulham Good Neighbours and they will bring you up to speed.’

Foxes: friend or foe?

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

A number of residents from around the Brook Green area have told me they are suffering from increasing nuisance from foxes.  I’ve asked the Council if it is within its remit to provide assistance and / or for other advice.  Did you know that foxes are not pests but wild animals?  Here is the Council response below.

Legally, foxes are classified as wild animals and not pests and therefore is not an issue that is dealt with by the Council’s Pest Control Service. The Council has no statutory powers or legal rights to eradicate foxes on private or other land. Any landlord of a housing block also does not have a responsibility to control foxes.

The most practical advice we offer to concerned residents involves fencing their own gardens to a standard that physically excludes foxes. It is also possible to discourage foxes by removing the various attractions that draw the foxes to some areas e.g poorly managed domestic refuse and neglected and overgrown gardens.  Residents should ensure refuse is stored in suitable containers so that it cannot provide food for any fox in the neighbourhood and should also make sure that gardens are not so overgrown that it could provide harbourage for foxes.

 If refuse and waste seems to be a problem please report this to our call centre and they can pass this on to the relevant council department to investigate. Their telephone number is 0208 753 1081.

The Fox Project has been assisting local authorities with humane, non-lethal solutions to fox nuisance and is willing to talk to local residents about fox deterrence and about simple steps that can be taken to resolve specific issues. You can contact the FOX DETERRENCE HELPLINE on 01892 826222.

Also, our website contains additional info on foxes:

 https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/environment/pest-control

How long will the King Street shops stay boarded up?

Local residents are growing understandably impatient that premises intended to be used for shops at 407 King Street are still boarded up.

The Council’s planning policies fail to account for the housing shortage – that inflexibility has caused the derelict Ravenscourt Hospital site to remain an eyesore for ten years when allowing change of use for housing would make more sense.

There also needs to be an acceptance that with more of our purchases being done online fewer shops are needed. With many existing shops struggling the viability of insisting on yet more shops being included in new developments is rather doubtful. Of course each case will have particular issues to consider but overall we already have more shops than we need.

The Council’s planning department tells me:

“Generally, we would not be in favour of residential development at ground floor level on a busy road, as the quality of the accommodation would not be great.”

I understand that point. Also I appreciate the symmetry of having a row of shops along a high street. But then the boarded up shops aren’t great either. Wouldn’t it at least make sense to allow flats on the corner?

Anyway the Council’s planning enforcement officer tells me:

“The planning enforcement team have recently written to the developers advising them that they are required to remove the hoardings and install the glazed shopfronts in accordance with their planning permission. If they fail to do so they will be liable to enforcement action.”

So I suppose that would be better than nothing.

 

Ravenscourt Park tennis courts to be upgraded

The tennis clubs in Ravenscourt Park are being upgraded with the improvements being funded by the Lawn Tennis Association in a deal between Queen’s Club and Hammersmith and Fulham Council

The Council’s Parks Manager tells me:

“I can confirm that the LTA will be funding the improvements in Ravenscourt Park.  The works will consist of a new surface, and new exterior fencing and access gate.  The proposed improvements are still to be tendered but we’d anticipate the works commencing in early 2018 and being completed in time for the summer rush of tennis players.  In terms of priority booking, this is only applicable to the courts at the Virgin Active centre in Normand Park.  The link to Queens Club for Ravenscourt Park, is that in working with the LTA at the Virgin Active centre, this allowed us to bring in additional funding from the LTA to deliver the proposed improvements at Ravenscourt Park.”

Good news.