B&Q site acquired by the council

B&Q recently advertised the freehold of their store on Norwood Road, and this has been acquired by the council.

This forms part of the council’s wider work in West Norwood, especially the aspiration to redevelop Site 18 – which includes the derelict laundry site behind B&Q. Currently, land ownership on Site 18 is very fragmented and the council has been working with local businesses to help assemble the site into a more coherent redevelopment proposition, as per the Local Plan and ‘manual for delivery’ consulted on and published over the last few years.

B&Q as the tenant will continue to operate as they do currently until such a time as all wider redevelopment options have been assessed – and even then any redevelopment would remain contingent on B&Q’s agreement to vary their lease, ensuring they are partners in any local change.

As local councillors, we know that many residents rely on B&Q both as customers and at staff, and we hope that in any future redevelopment B&Q will remain in West Norwood. It’s important to ensure we retain the shops we need as part of a diverse and vibrant high street.

However, we’re excited that progress is being made on Site 18 – it’s so wasteful that, at a time crisis in our local and London housing markets, derelict private land sits there undeveloped. The acquisition of the B&Q freehold is demonstration that as a Labour council we’re taking proactive and positive steps to improve West Norwood and tackle the housing crisis.

Thames Water leak traffic chaos

A big leak on Norwood Road by the railway bridge in Tulse Hill outside Ira Court has caused huge congestion most of this afternoon and evening. Temporary traffic lights are in place and look likely to remain for some time given the size of hole that has opened up in the road.

Thames say they think works will finish on 20th February, so in the meantime we suggest leaving your car at home if you want to get anywhere quickly!

SGN gas leak and evacuation on the Rosendale Gardens Estate

Residents have been in touch about a gas leak on the Rosendale Gardens Estate. As it is a major leak, we’re pleased that SGN have taken safety seriously and responded quickly. Residents in the affected block are being evacuated until it is safe.

Some evacuated residents are concerned that they are being evacuated to hotels which are distant from West Norwood and that tomorrow’s commute or school run will be impossible.

We have spoken to SGN to raise this issue, and they have agreed to help with free taxis from hotels provided to school, work or services. If you are an affected resident and would like to take up this offer, please email Cllr Anna Birley on abirley@lambeth.gov.uk with your name and mobile phone number.

Mighty Hoopla and events in Brockwell Park – an update and opportunities to have your say

Last summer Field Day and Mighty Hoopla held a three day music festival over the first weekend of June.  The license they were granted in April 2018 for a time limited festival and the permission authorised in February were for a festival of 33,000 with an event footprint of around a third of the total area of the park. It was for one year only and at the time of the post event debrief in October we were informed that Field Day would not be making an application to hold the event in the park for 2019.

Mighty Hoopla has however applied to hold a two-day event for 2019. This is for an event of around 25,000 people over two days with a smaller event footprint than last year.  In keeping with last year, this is proposed to be an event focused on the LGBT community on the Saturday and a Jazz festival on the Sunday.  The dates they are applying for are the 8-9th of June and the set-up programme is promised to be more limited than last year.

In December 2017 we held a consultation event with Thurlow Park residents – a write up of which can be found here – where there was significant concern about events in the park. Based on these findings we came to the conclusion that restrictions on the size and scale of events in the park were needed. When the event took place there were significant concerns about the three-week set-up period for Field Day and Mighty Hoopla and the way it blocked access to the park.  Of particular concern was the erection of large security barriers over much of the park, giving the impression that large parts of the park were out-of-bounds for nearly two and half weeks prior to the festival.

Fred at last year’s Herne Hill Forum public meeting on Lovebox and Field Day

Whilst Mighty-Hoopla’s current application is smaller than last year and closer to what we as your councillors argued for in 2018, we understand there will still be considerable concerns about the event that is why there will be a public drop-in session with the event organisers on the 26th February in Herne Hill. Details can be found here:

After this point the applicant will be applying for a license through the statutory licensing process. We will be submitting a representation on noise levels to ensure that the high standards of last year are not only maintained but also extended to tackle the noise problems in the Croxted Road area last year.  We also want all of the conditions, which applied to Field Day’s licence to continue over to this year. In the event that any of these conditions are not met or the festival organisers are unwilling to meet these conditions we would recommend that the event does not go ahead.

Making a representation on Field Day to Lambeth licensing committee

In our work in response to this event application so far, we have also secured conditions that the high level of security that surrounded last year’s event days in terms of stewards and security personnel, will continue and we want to see this as a condition of their license. We are determined that the relatively lax security regime surrounding the festivals in the park in 2016 will never be a feature of any future commercial event in the park. 

During the 2018 Council elections we made a commitment to work towards ending the dependence of the park on music festivals and ensure that a stable financial footing was found for the park. We have continued to support the Brockwell Park Community Partners (BPCP) on-going project to regenerate Brockwell Hall as a venue that could host weddings and other commercial events, with a direct revenue stream into the park. This has successfully completed the first stage of the application for a multi-million pound Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

We have also been working on proposals to redevelop the disused football pitches to convert them into a site, which can be rented out for sports training, including five-a -side football leagues, with the income going into the running of the park. We are also looking at a number of other options none of which involve fenced-off commercial events to allow the park to be run on a sustainable financial footing. 

Simply to keep Brockwell Park open, the bins cleared and the grass cut costs over £400,000 each year. Due to on-going austerity from central government the park service has been severely cut in recent years with millions being squeezed from Lambeth’s parks budget. All events that take place in the park have to pay three sources of money; a commercial rent to the council, a Park Infrastructure Levy (PIL), which is paid directly into the park, and a damage deposit to act as security against any expenses occurred in repairing damage. The commercial rent for an event like Field Day in 2018 is in excess of £200,000 and PIL – which goes directly into Brockwell Park – was over £36,000. All costs of fixing the park were also born by the event organisers.  Field Day also ran an extensive community fund, which put sums of money into a number of projects in and around the park including the BMX track.

Following a reorganisation of the events and parks department, the delayed review of the events policy will be taking place this month. This is something we as your Councillors have been campaigning hard on as we want to ensure that environmental impact assessments are carried out before events take place and that set up times are reduced where possible to guarantee residents access to the park at all times.  

This will be starting in the next two weeks and we will be arranging to hear from residents on this process shortly with an interactive group session to be held in the ward in the next few weeks to gauge opinion on the matter.

Private renters – have your say!

Private renting is an important issue for us – in the borough roughly a third of residents live in privately rented accommodation and in our ward we have dealt with many pieces of casework relating to the private rented sector, from damp and repairs to security of tenure.

Last year, we organised a survey and meeting for private renters in West Norwood. Many of you who attended told us that you weren’t always confident in asserting your rights to landlords, or that landlords weren’t aware of all of their responsibilities. Renters have told us in the survey and at our surgeries that rents are increasing and getting harder to manage.

We have been working hard to champion the private rented sector, so that the council makes fuller use of its powers to intervene when landlords don’t meet the standards they should, and provides the information and support that good tenants and good landlords need to improve the sector.

We’re proud that Lambeth Labour recently voted to call on the Government to end Section 21, and you can read Councillor Anna Birley’s blog about her experiences of Section 21 and renting locally. She is now the Private Renting Policy Lead for Lambeth. As part of this work, we have introduced tougher fines on rogue landlords, recruited more enforcement officers to drive up standards and moved ahead with a licensing scheme for landlords for flats with five or more renters.

But there’s more to do – and currently we are consulting on renters’ main priorities and challenges are to help shape the council’s next steps. The first outcome will be to draw up a private renters’ charter, to set out renters’ rights, give advice, support and guidance, as well as detail the council’s powers to intervene and will be published later this year.

Please share your experiences and views here >> https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lblrenters

Our meeting with deputy mayor for environment on the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

We recently met with Helen Hayes MP and Shirley Rodrigues, London’s deputy mayor for the environment, to discuss the ULEZ.

The ULEZ will replace the T-Charge from 8 April this year. The daily charge runs from midnight to midnight, 7 days a week, every day of the year, within the same area as the current Congestion Charging Zone. In 2021, the zone will expand to include all roads up to but not including the North and South Circular roads.

While we’re pleased that half of the ward will benefit from the improvements to air quality that the ULEZ is intended to create, but we’re concerned that the South Circular – one of the most polluting and congested roads in the area – will be excluded, especially given the proximity of Elmgreen and Rosemead schools. We’re also concerned that polluting vehicles will be displaced to the south of the ward, and that parking stress in the streets near the boundary will worsen.

We asked Shirley to develop a clear communication plan for residents who will need to change their vehicles, as well as committing to monitoring impact on volume, speed and emissions of vehicles on the South Circular and providing funding to councils to put in place schemes to mitigate impacts on areas outside the zone. We also asked for clarity on vehicles adapted for accessibility.

For more information on the ULEZ take a look on TfL’s website where they have a handy car checker.

A collective community response on Thames Water disruption

We had a packed meeting with traders and local residents last week to discuss the potential disruption from Thames Water mains replacements, and to develop a collective community response.

We covered concerns including interruption to business and loss of footfall, transport disruption, congestion, accessibility for older and less able residents, parking, impact on side roads, emergency services, business deliveries, risk of water disruption and ensuring the Feast can continue uninterrupted.

We took detailed notes which can be read here 👇👇

Next steps – we are seeking a meeting urgently with Thames Water to raise the concerns and will continue to involve residents, businesses and Station to Station (the BID). As soon as we have an update, we will circulate it and organise further public meetings.