Community Strategy via Bloomsbury Neighbourhood Forum

Backdated from previous BA website

Congratulations to Cllr Penny Abraham and Cllr Rebecca Hossack who went to the trouble of organising the inaugural meeting of the Bloomsbury Neighbourhood Forum so that the community members that attended could give their views without being led down the garden path of paying lip service to the views of the individual councilors and/or their political party.

Recent meetings have confirmed that the community in Bloomsbury has the following priorities in terms of community strategy. These will be fine tuned and form part of an Action Plan for the BNF.

The following record of the meeting submitted by Cllr Penny Abrahams

DECEMBER 2007 – supplementary to notes already submitted

The discussion was held in the context of Bloomsbury’s submission on the Community Strategy (notes attached).  We remain very keen to see:

a)    a proper evidence base for what is needed in Bloomsbury, including a social audit, which could be the basis of an Area Action Plan.  Bloomsbury is subject to huge development pressure, and needs the safeguard of such a Plan.  The Mayor’s Opportunity Area plans will add to the pressure in the west of the ward, and the community needs some safeguards.

b) safeguarding small shops, and the special character of areas of the ward.  “Area character appraisals” should be carried out, under the Conservation Area statement.

1.    Managing Camden’s growth:
a)    Â“Is growth inevitable?  Why?”
b)     The public sector – hospital and university – need to be curtailed, as they appear to have free rein in development.
c)     Discussion of demolition versus refurbishment.

2.    Providing housing and affordable housing”:
a)    a consensus that intensification is not wanted.
b)    Housing should not be sold off when vacant.
c)    Need Compulsory Purchase Orders  by the Mayor of public land when vacant, and land not used.
d)    Public sector should be producing housing.
e)    Opportunity Area proposals – the Council must engage with the Mayor’s plan.  The area needs to be studied, and social audits produced if new development is proposed, to ensure social and community facilities are adequate.

3.    Promoting a sustainable Camden and tackling climate change
a)    the Council should take seriously the proposals from its Sustainability Taskforce
b)    Energy efficiency schemes should be introduced wherever possible.
c)    Make sure children/parents walk to school/cycle to school if school is near enough.
d)    One resident suggested banning cars, and some agreed.

4.    Improving Camden’s environment
a)    We need to guard against loss of private open space, e.g. Ramsay Hall, which now has an infill accommodation unit where the open space was.
b)    Young people need more open space.  We need to expand open space locally.
c)    Do not want flexibility in protection from conservation areas, as these provide safeguards.
d)    Need a holistic approach to streets, so they became more pleasant spaces.
e)    Wildlife cannot have such priority in an area like Bloomsbury.

5.    Improving the quality of life of Camden’s communities
a)    We need to preserve the identity of the area, despite the huge amounts of development going on.
b)    Street wardens are needed throughout Bloomsbury – information needed on the street warden review.
c)    Bloomsbury Vision study should be expanded to cover the whole ward.
d)    Noise is a huge issue for residents – urgently need a 24 hour noise service.
e)    Need to continue work on reducing drug activity in the area.

PA’s notes (made at the time) of community strategy consultation meeting
November 21 2006, 7 p.m. at NLA, Store Street

1.    We need an evidence base for what is needed in Bloomsbury, to reflect the pressure on services.

2.    A social audit of primary care, education, social and community facilities, and open space, is urgently needed.

3.    Eileen O’Keeffe (a public health academic specialist) suggested approaching the Primary Care Trust to carry out an audit, since much of it sits in public health field.

4.    What are the choices for this part of London?  Need to consider impacts of Kings Cross Development, Cross-River Tram, movement generally including walking/cycling (including cycle parking needed)

5.    Doctors’ surgeries are urgently needing upgrading – a basic service not being offered.

6.    In summary of points 1-5, an area action plan is needed for this area.  Under the new planning frameworks, Bloomsbury fits all the criteria, and such a plan would form the basis of a real community strategy for the area.

7.    Under stronger economy heading, need to protect small shops – “special” areas need designating, e.g. Marchmont Street, Goodge Street, parts of Judd Street.

8.    Â“Area character appraisals” could be done, under the Conservation Area statement.

9.    Â“Mini-Community Strategy” is needed for each ward, to reflect Camden’s diversity.

10.    Growing population is a significant factor for Bloomsbury.

11.    Camden could raise residential parking charges to discourage car use in central area.  Need a cycle parking plan in the Community Strategy.  Encourage Car Club membership – Camden should consider free parking bays for car clubs.

12.    Under “feel more at home” heading, people should have priority over cars.  Need subsidy for Camden residents at local facilities, such as YMCA, local theatres etc.  A child-friendly environment will be a safe environment.

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