Karen Buck

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Local Campaigns

There are already 7 betting shops in and near this short stretch of the Harrow Road. We don’t want an eighth.

Given the level of opposition, attention is now turning to whether a licence will be given to a betting shop on the ground floor of the former Prince of Wales pub. Please continue to sign the petitions and encourage others to do so.

No to more betting shops

There are already 7 betting shops in and near this short stretch of the Harrow Road. We don’t want an eighth. Given the level of opposition, attention is now turning...

I am supporting the GPs at the New Elgin Practice in Chippenham Road, to save the practice from closure at its current premises or at least remain within the local neighbourhood.

I am supporting the GPs at the New Elgin Practice in Chippenham Road, to save the practice from closure at its current premises or at least remain within the local neighbourhood.

I am working with them to press NHS England and the Council (responsible for any future planning issues affecting the building) into agreeing to save the popular practice. Please get behind this campaign by adding your name to our petition. Please email me at buckk@parliament.uk with your name and address, and I will add you to the petition.

We have already lost two General Practices in North Westminster recently and we need to keep our NHS GPs! This area cannot afford to lose this practice, yet a change of landlord and with the difficulty of finding suitable alternate premises in the area means that the New Elgin practice may be forced out of its current building and possibly out of the area completely.

New Elgin GP practice under threat!

I am supporting the GPs at the New Elgin Practice in Chippenham Road, to save the practice from closure at its current premises or at least remain within the local...

My letter to Westminster Council Children's Services regarding Children's Centres

https://www.scribd.com/doc/253898965/Westminster-Council-Children-s

Karen Buck MP
Westminster North
Constituency
Tel. 020 8968 7999
Fax. 020 8960 0150
buckk@parliament.uk
www.karenbuck.org.uk

16 May 2014

Dear Resident

I recently met again with senior representatives from Grainger PLC, the property company now running Dibdin House. I am writing to you now to keep you updated on the issues we discussed.

Dibdin Hall

For the past year Grainger have maintained that the hall has been closed due to health and safety concerns. This has always struck residents as odd, as the hall has been used for many years without incident and Grainger staff still use it on a daily basis.

Grainger have now conceded that health and safety is not the main reason the hall remains closed. As you may be aware, Grainger are considering plans to convert the hall into flats for private sale. To do this, they would need to get the council to approve a planning application.
However, council planning policy seeks to protect community floorspace. Planning officers at the council have told me:

"In all cases the Council will need to be satisfied that the overall level of social and community provision is improved and there is no demand for an alternative social and community use for the floorspace. All I can assume that if they (Grainger) let the residents use the space even for a temporary period they will have great difficulty in demonstrating to us that there is no demand for this hall."

So it appears that Grainger are keeping the hall closed so that, if and when they do submit a planning application to turn it into private flats, it will appear to the council that there is no demand from residents to use the hall. Grainger admitted as much to me in a letter saying:

"You are correct that we are making plans for the future of the hall and as such we are currently undertaking a feasibility study in relation to converting the hall into residential units. Once we have completed this feasibility study, we would then need to submit our application to the planning department for a final decision to be made. This whole process may take 6-12 months and whilst this process is being undertaken we cannot allow the use of the hall, albeit on a temporary basis, as this may jeopardise any planning decision.
The health and safety report that was commissioned in relation to the hall is an internal document and I can confirm that the works identified were relatively minor. However, despite the relatively minor nature of the works we cannot allow use of the hall for the reason mentioned
above."

I believe it would be a great shame if Dibdin Hall were to close permanently, as it has for many years served as the heart of this community. It is deeply regrettable that Grainger have, in my view, chosen to misuse their power at Dibdin House by keeping the hall closed in order toartificially present to the council a belief that tenants have no desire to use it.

Nevertheless, I do not think this is any reason for residents not to request use of the hall, should
they wish to do so. If written or email copies of such requests were kept, these could
prove very useful when submitting objections to any planning application.

Anti-Social Behaviour

I am sorry to say that I have been receiving credible reports that ASB is once more an increasing
concern at Dibdin House. I am speaking to the Police about what measures can be put in place
before the summer months to nip the problem in the bud.

It is most unhelpful that once more the gates are out of action, allowing anyone to access the
estate. Grainger have explained that water has been allowed to get into the gate panel, breaking
them completely. As the panel is no longer manufactured, Grainger say they will need to replace
the entire system, with resulting delays and additional costs to leaseholders.

Transfers

I remain in dialogue with Grainger about transfers. While they are now approving medical
transfers in some cases, they continue to have no way of dealing with overcrowding.

Grainger's Director of Corporate Affairs assures me that this issue remains under review across
their entire range of former Church Commission estates and I am liaising with the Housing
Department at the council to see how they could help facilitate transfers for growing families.

Please do let both Grainger and my office know if this issue affects you, as it is very important to
know the scale of the problem.

Maintenance

The External Condition Survey, which Grainger have organised to deal with problems across
Dibdin House such as damp and mould and problems with the windows, should report back in
mid-May. A plan for major works should be drawn up a few months after this. The internal
property condition surveys have been delayed due to staffing issues, so any tenant with a repair
query should call Kier or contact Darin.

I hope this letter serves as a useful update on issues that affect Dibdin House. I will continue to
push Grainger for progress on all of these issues and will be in touch with another update later in
the year. As ever, please do get in touch if you want to discuss how these issues affect you
personally, or if there is anything else you want to raise with me as your MP.

All the best

Yours faithfully

Karen Buck MP

 

My letter to the residents of Dibdin House

Karen Buck MP Westminster North Constituency Tel. 020 8968 7999 Fax. 020 8960 0150 buckk@parliament.uk www.karenbuck.org.uk 16 May 2014 Dear Resident I recently met again with senior representatives from Grainger...

Westminster City Council Planning Committee

Jubilee Sports Centre demolition and redevelopment proposal: Objection

I have a number of concerns about the overall Jubilee/Moberly package, which I believe are broadly shared by many of the residents who signed a petition against the Jubilee closure, and the majority of those who attended a public meeting at the Beethoven centre on January 16th.

It is also fair to point out that there are also residents who are positive about the scheme, believing that it will offer improved leisure and sporting facilities.

My main concerns are:

a. The loss of leisure amenity for Queen's Park residents
b. The lack of affordable housing on both the Moberly and Jubilee sites- which I believe cannot be justified by reference to the costs of the new sports centre, especially given the value of new property sales in the area.
c. Reduced accessibility and possible impact on local Queen's Park streets from additional parking demands`

a) The loss of leisure amenity for Queen's Park residents

Whilst the new centre on the Moberly will re-provision what is currently within the Jubilee, including the swimming pool, the well-used football pitch has been re-located to another part of the borough, representing a significant loss of open-air amenity for local residents; and particularly casual users of the pitch such as young people without the means to pay for pre-booked provision. In addition, many young people from the Queen's Park/Mozart area will be put off from using the St Augustine's facility by the distance and the fact that the straight route cuts through the South Kilburn estate, where there has been a history of gang tensions.

The basketball court adjoining the Jubilee will be lost with no current plans for replacement. Both the Moberly five-a-side pitches and the basketball court are open-air facilities, which should be preserved locally as a balance to the indoor leisure provision on the Moberly site/Jubilee hall.

I welcome the concession of a new hall on the Jubilee site, but this only goes part of the way to addressing the problem- it is indoors, it will require care-taking and management (which, as of now, are uncosted and not provided for), and it is therefore questionable as to whether it can guarantee affordable/free provision for the local community, such as replacing the basketball court.

b) The absence of affordable housing

I have raised this issue with Brent, in respect of the Moberly:

"I note that Brent's policy is that " Where less than 50 per cent affordable housing is proposed, the application must be accompanied by a financial appraisal which demonstrates that the proposal represents the maximum viable proportion of affordable housing". Obviously, the fact that Wilmott Dixon/Westminster Council's plans include the re-provisioning of the sports centre means that the overall formula would be varied significantly. However, I and my council colleagues are unconvinced by the business case which indicates that Wilmott Dixon must only build market homes for sale in order to finance the new development. This is especially in light of the market prices being asked for in other local developments (such as Amberley Road, W9, where the developer is marketing 1 bed homes for £850,000). At the public meeting, Councillor Paul dimoldenberg called for the ‘books to be opened' so we can have an honest discussion about the feasibility of the overall housing/leisure package"

These arguments also hold in respect of the Jubilee site. which proposes the construction of 20 townhouses and 64 apartments. Not only are none of the additional (non-replacement) properties ‘affordable', the replacement of the Genesis properties due for demolition involves a further reduction in the number of homes at a genuinely affordable, social rent.

Westminster Council has revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request that £111 million has been spent since 2010 on emergency accommodation in response to the pressures of homelessness. Over and above this, the Council is failing to meet its pledge on reducing over-crowding, and there is a shortage of supply of intermediate accommodation for lower and middle income workers. The demand for affordable housing is overwhelming, and I believe that the business model underpinning the housing/sports centre replacement could sustain more affordable homes on site.

In any event, the Council has a substantial Affordable Housing Fund which could be invested wherever the opportunity to provide new affordable homes arises. As Queen's Park remains one of the areas within the borough where homes can be constructed at the lowest cost, there can be no real arguments against providing affordable homes on site.

c) Accessibility, parking and transport

The Jubilee Sports Centre is well located in the heart of the community, bringing footfall into the centre of Queen's Park, which many feel contributes to community safety. Many people feel that the Jubilee is the ‘heart' of the ward and there will be a significant change in the dynamic of the area when it disappears. There are some residents who would prefer the replacement with residential units as well (although these include residents who object to the size and style of these), but I believe it is fair to say the majority view is critical.

The new, larger sports centre on the Moberly site is being promoted as offering leisure facilities to attract users from a wider area (from within Westminster, Brent and elsewhere). It has been argued that the existing facilities are under-used, so the intention is explicitly to increase the number of users on the new site. This is almost certain to increase parking demands within the Queen's Park estate, as more people have to travel further to use the centre, and to increase traffic pressure on what is already a busy set of junctions and corners around Kilburn Lane/Chamberlayne Road.

I would be very grateful if you could bring these comments to the attention of the Planning Committee.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Karen Buck

 

Karen's comments on Jubilee Centre planning consultation

Westminster City Council Planning Committee Jubilee Sports Centre demolition and redevelopment proposal: Objection I have a number of concerns about the overall Jubilee/Moberly package, which I believe are broadly shared...

I'm asking local residents to get in touch with their views on cycle safety in London ahead of a Commons debate on cycling. MPs will be debating 18 Get Britain Cycling safety recommendations that could make cycling safer and more popular for millions of people in Britain when we return in September.

The announcement this week of extra government investment in cycling is welcome, but the challenge is huge: road deaths amongst cyclists and pedestrians were up 50% In Westminster compared with a year ago, while the number seriously injured rose 19% more than in any other borough. Boris Johnson has built on Ken Livingstone's plans to make London more attractive to cyclists, but still more than 65 cyclists have died in the city since he took office.

Forty-seven per cent of Londoners would cycle more if road safety improved, according to a survey released by London Councils last week. The poll of 1,000 Londoners indicated that other incentives which would encourage cycling include having safe places to lock bikes (27 per cent); if streets were in a better condition (21 per cent); better cycling infrastructure (20 per cent); a safer urban environment (16 per cent) and less pollution (10 per cent). Chair of London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Catherine West, said: "Boroughs are responsible for 95 per cent of London's roads and are committed to giving residents more opportunities to cycle through a range of innovative schemes which make a real difference to neighbourhoods."

A personal view on cycle safety from local people will be an invaluable resource and I will use any comments to feed into the debate.

Local people can let me know what they think by tweeting to @KarenPBuckMP, or by emailing buckk@parliament.uk. Please entitle all emails ‘Cycle Safe'.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/aug/09/cycling-road-safety?CMP=twt_gu

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/andrew-neather-have-the-wheels-begun-to-come-off-the-boris-bikes-8748207.html

 

I want your view on cycle safety

I'm asking local residents to get in touch with their views on cycle safety in London ahead of a Commons debate on cycling. MPs will be debating 18 Get Britain...

Having received substantial volumes of constituency correspondence over the last few years I have become increasingly concerned about the problem of subterranean basement developments.

However, it was not until I accepted an invitation to see one of the larger basement developments in NW8 a couple of weeks ago that it hit home to me just what an extraordinary change we are seeing in some of our inner-city communities.

I saw a basement excavation stretching between Hamilton terrace and the mews behind it in St John's Wood. It seemed that the excavation was the size of an aircraft carrier-absolutely vast. It was far greater in scale than I had expected. Not only was this enormous excavation going on, but lorries that were turning into the mews to take away the soil were pounding away. There was noise and filth in the air. The small mews was already buckled by the pressure of the lorries coming into the street, which was not designed for the kind of traffic that was being imposed on it. It was vividly brought home to me how disruptive such basement developments are. They are an imposition on many residents in areas where they have become such a striking phenomenon over the past couple of years.

That is why I called for an adjournment debate on the issue in Westminster Hall on Tuesday. You can find the full text of that debate by clicking on the following link:

http://bit.ly/uUeLhW  

We all know that building works are a hazard of urban living. We live in a growing city. Wherever we live in London or other cities, at some stage we are likely to experience building works. It is right that we must endure some of this as our infrastructure is updated and as much-needed new housing development is fitted into our growing cities. However, if we look at some of the plans for basement developments that are now spreading all over inner London, we are not talking about infrastructure development or new house building. In many cases, basement developments-sometimes double basements going down two levels-stretch not just under the footprint of the house or even one or two thirds beyond the footprint of the building itself, but through an entire garden. Plans include underground cinemas, swimming pools, gymnasiums and gun rooms. Delightful as that may be for resident's fortunate enough to live in such properties; it is hard to accuse those who object of restricting the necessary growth and infrastructure development of our city.

Westminster city council-the authority with which I am concerned, although I know that other inner-London authorities deal with similar issues-states in its policy guidance:

"The environmental impact of subterranean development also has potential to be significant and result in increased carbon emissions, due to additional requirements for lighting, ventilation and pumps. By limiting the extent of basement developments and requiring them to meet sustainable design standards, negative environmental impacts may be reduced."

We know, however, that due to a degree of uncertainty about current planning guidance, some local authorities-Westminster in this case-are anxious about their ability to block developments.

In the debate I sought clarification of what options are available to local authorities and challenged the Minister to consider providing stronger and clearer guidance to the small number of inner-London authorities where almost all such developments are taking place:

http://bit.ly/uUeLhW  

This is not nimbyism or an objection to new infrastructure or housing developments-indeed, the St John's Wood Society played a constructive role in the future development of the King's Troop barracks. It is, however, a response to a real and worsening problem that was probably unforeseeable only a few short years ago. Like Chelsea and Bayswater, St John's Wood may be a largely prosperous area, but its residents have the same right as anyone else to be protected from unacceptable levels of noise, nuisance and disruption that prevent them from the quiet enjoyment of their homes. We have a shared interest in protecting the urban environment and the character of our residential neighbourhoods, which contribute to making London the city that we love so much.

 

Debating Subterranean Basement Developments

Having received substantial volumes of constituency correspondence over the last few years I have become increasingly concerned about the problem of subterranean basement developments. However, it was not until I...

Westminster Labour Councillors are calling on Westminster Council to address road safety concerns across Church Street by introducing 20 mph zones in traffic “hotspots” in the ward.

Streets on the Lisson Green estate would greatly benefit from reducing the speed motorists can travel, as would Frampton Street, Penfold Street and Broadley Street.

But any changes must come with a full consultation with residents. We believe that no-one knows their local area better than the people who live there, and they should be the ones who help inform where the Council should change the speed limit.

The Conservative-controlled council rejected our call to introduce 20 mph zones last year, but the Coalition Government believes that such restrictions would help improve safety. To that end, it has said that Council’s can introduce 20 mph zones as long as it produces a “cost-benefit” analysis of any scheme.

20 is Plenty in Church Street

Westminster Labour Councillors are calling on Westminster Council to address road safety concerns across Church Street by introducing 20 mph zones in traffic “hotspots” in the ward. Streets on the Lisson...

Westbourne ward could be in line for £450,000 from the Government to help local secondary school children. If successful, the ‘Inspiring Communities’ scheme would "fund and support neighbourhood partnerships to deliver a programme of activities working with young people,  their parents and communities,  to create new opportunities, broaden horizons and build up the self-confidence of local people". We are strongly supporting the bid!

Inspiring Communities

Westbourne ward could be in line for £450,000 from the Government to help local secondary school children. If successful, the ‘Inspiring Communities’ scheme would "fund and support neighbourhood partnerships to...

Local Labour Councillors have been concerned for some time about the poor quality of some of the housing in the Harrow Road area. Many are Victorian terrace houses that were converted into flats in the 1930’s and after the war. Much of this conversion was not of a high standard and through neglect by landlords became damp ridden and difficult to heat due to draughts. Through the Harrow Road Partnership and the participation of your Councillors a pilot programme has begun to do a detailed inspection of the health impacts of converted flats in an area of the Ward. This will result in improvements to these properties, which in turn will ensure that those residents live in a healthier environment. It is hoped to extend this programme to other parts of Harrow Road. If you live in rented property which has damp or high level of draughts please get in touch with us.

IMPROVING LOCAL HOUSING

Local Labour Councillors have been concerned for some time about the poor quality of some of the housing in the Harrow Road area. Many are Victorian terrace houses that were...

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