Monthly Archives: May 2016

Gospel Oak School to lose its pollution buffer of fruit trees, birch trees and meadow

writes Jessica Jacobs

Disappointing news that Gospel Oak Primary School Head teacher John Hayes’ extension plans will take the school even closer to the busy traffic of Mansfield Road because it includes the removal of the beautiful meadow and birch trees and fruit tress bordering the school entrance.


Planting the apple tree by school entrance September 2008 Part of the Little Green Fingers Gardening Club initiative 


These trees are a vital protection for pollution and a beautiful asset for Mansfield Road. From the data the Green Party and Clean Air London (Simon Burkett) have already got, Mansfield Road (by Gospel Oak Station and the school entrance ) got readings of 45 and 46 ug/m2. The World Health Organisation and the EU say that breathing more than 20 ug/m2 of NO2 is dangerous and more than 40 ug/m2 is illegal.


Map of pollution levels in Camden streets

Mr Hayes claims that their removal is necessary because the plans include a disabled access ramp. Furthermore the trees have been examined and are in an ‘deteriorated’ state. Once removed there will be saplings replanted but he could not confirm how many and what size. The majority of the meadow would be paved over however.


While a disabled ramp is long overdue at the school, it is not clear why it was not installed on the other side of the school entrance. In the last ten years, the steps to the school have been significantly altered on two occasions – both perfect opportunities to install a ramp. However even though parents requested this no ramp was installed and the steps remained. The trees also look in good shape – while the fruit trees have been producing delicious fruit since they were planted in 2008, helping highly urbanised children understand that where food comes from.

What is perhaps more worrying is that there has been very little communication with the parents at the school. The plans include a lot of building work but Mr Hayes has only mentioned it once to a small group of parents at his coffee mornings. He also says he tweeted about it (140 followers) but the tweet has not yet been located. The school has a regular newsletter but this option was not chosen. When asked this week, Mr Hayes agreed to post architects drawings of the plan on the school website.

However one parent who has been involved in the development project stated that it would not be a good idea to publicise details of the plans as it would give parents the ‘wrong message’. In addition the planning permission portal that is open for comments closes very soon – during half-term – so parents and the public will not be able to access these drawings until after the deadline.

To find out more and leave a comment on the planning application go to:

Enter the planning reference number 2016/0665/P 

Or try this link

Deadline for comments on camden planning portal is June 9 2016

Manna from Heaven – Solar panels for St Anne’s Church

Power Up North London (PUNL) has filed a planning application for solar panels on the south facing roof of St Anne’s Church on Highgate Road.

The organisation is appealing to the local community to respond to the consultation as they would like to ensure there is  ‘strong community support before taking a final decision to go ahead with the project’.

The application is live and can be found here, application number 2016/1791/P

St Anne's Church, Highgate Road. The proposed solar panels will not be visible from the road or detract from the Listed Spire of this popular church

St Anne’s Church, Highgate Road. The proposed solar panels will not be visible from the road or detract from the Listed Spire of this popular church

After being awarded a grant by the Urban Community Energy Fund to cover feasibility costs for one or more solar projects in North London the group initiated negotiations with St. Anne’s who were already considering solar panels as part of a refurbishment project.

The Church is hoping to create more space for community activities including community lunches and a youth project. Given the potential benefits of solar to the Church and surrounding community PUNL agreed to use some of their funding to explore the feasibility of a 19kW installation on the south facing roof.

PUNL are addressing the following vital points with the local community that also align with the DPNF’s own Environmental and Sustainability policies which are currently being drawn up:

  • address the challenge of climate change and contribute to locally generated renewable energy for the benefit of the community
  • raise awareness of environmental issues within the community
  • contribute to long term aims of reducing the need for imported fossil fuel supply, increased local energy resilience, and community cohesion

The installation will provide discounted electricity prices for St Anne’s, which will benefit the funding for activities such as the weekly community lunches, and provide an estimated 16,500 kWh of clean energy per year, equating to 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This will contribute towards Camden Council’s 40% target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

As the Church is listed and in a conservation area, a large part of this feasibility work has been putting together a planning application, which was submitted on 18th March 2016. The visual impact of the panels will be low as the south facing roof is obscured by foliage and buildings from most view points.

To comment on the planning application, please follow the below steps:

  1. Click the link above or here
  2. Click ‘Add comments here’ in the Application Progress Summary box
  3. Follow the instructions on the next page and ‘Submit’

Additional information on the project can be found here.

Understanding Neighbourhood Planning

What is neighbourhood planning? Find out how neighbourhood planning can help you and your community decide their future.  ‘Understanding Neighbourhood  Planning’ video by Locality:

'Understanding Neighbourhood Planning' video by Locality

‘Understanding Neighbourhood Planning’ video by Locality

Neighbourhood Planners.London was set up to support neighbourhood planners in London and raise the profile of neighbourhood planning in the capital. 

They are a voluntary initiative established in response to direct experience of the first wave of neighbourhood planning in London. The benefits of neighbourhood planners getting together, sharing experience and know-how was demonstrated by major conferences in Ealing in 2014 and on the South Bank in 2015 as well as the more informal London Neighbourhood Planning Gatherings, happening since spring 2013. 

Find out more at

'Understanding Neighbourhood Planning' video by Locality

‘Understanding Neighbourhood Planning’ video by Locality


What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan will contain planning policies for the Neighbourhood Area which will have to be taken into account by the Council’s planners when making planning decisions affecting land within the Neighbourhood Area. The Neighbourhood Plan forms part of the statutory development plan for the area, and will therefore be part of the planning process, sitting alongside national, London and Camden policies.

What sort of things can be included in the Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan can deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues. However, because the Neighbourhood Plan is a planning document, it will focus on issues that come up in a planning context. This covers a wide range of issues related to land use. Some examples are:

  • What sort of development should be allowed in the area?
  • Where should development be located within the area?
  • Should particular sites be allocated for particular types of development?
  • Do we need more open space?
  • Do we need more affordable housing or accommodation for the elderly?
  • Do we need additional community facilities and, if so, what activities should be catered for?

Are there any limits on what can be included in the Neighbourhood Plan?

Because it is a planning document, the Neighbourhood Plan only has force in respect of planning issues. There are other issues of importance to the quality of the area that do not normally arise in a planning context. Although these may be addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan, they will not be binding on the Council as part of the planning process. It may be possible to establish projects, to be pursued outside the planning process, to address some of these issues which are important to the community. However, they will not be a formal part of the Neighbourhood Plan. Examples of some of these issues are:

  • What can we do about litter in the area?
  • How do we stop anti-social behaviour?
  • How can we make existing buildings in the area more energy efficient?
  • Can we get Boris bikes in the neighbourhood?

In addition, the policies included in the Neighbourhood Plan must not be inconsistent with those already included in national, London and Camden planning policies. It is not possible, for example, to provide that there should be NO development in the Neighbourhood Area. The draft Neighbourhood Plan must go through a review process before it comes into effect to determine whether it is consistent with the national, London and Camden planning policies.

What is the process for developing the Neighbourhood Plan?

The DPNF was established in February 2013 and recognised by Camden Council in September 2013. We are now carrying out a programme of consultation and engagement with residents and organisations in the area, seeking to identify themes and issues to be addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan. We will then prepare a first draft of the Plan, which we currently hope to complete by June 2016. Following a period of informal consultation, we will update the draft and prepare it for a formal consultation. There will be a 6-week public consultation on this second draft Plan, which again will be amended if necessary in light of the consultation. The Plan will then be submitted to Camden Council, who will check that the DPNF has followed all the necessary processes and will arrange for an independent examination to check that the Plan meets all the legal requirements.   After any necessary modifications, the Plan will be submitted to a referendum. This will allow all local residents to vote on the adoption of the Plan. If more than 50% of those voting in the referendum vote ‘yes’, then the Neighbourhood Plan becomes part of the Development Plan for the area.