A joint AGM of the Association and the StQW Neighbourhood Forum was held in St Helens Church hall on October 23rd. We discussed the Council’s plans for new housing infill schemes on sites in St Helens Gardens and off Barlby Road, the trial of 20mph speed limit in this area, latest news on OPDC plans for Old Oak, and a new proposal for Womens Pioneer Housing for a residential tower in Wood Lane.
Members of the Association’s management committee were re-elected for a further year. Details on all the above can be found in the minutes on the StQW Forum website at this link http://stqw.org/wordpress/members/minutes/
The Association continues to monitor the weekly list of planning applications in our neighbourhood. No large developments have come forward this year. We will be looking out for the Council’s own application for its housing site at 54 St Helens Gardens.
The impact of climate change is affecting our area, in small ways that do not compare with the floods, fires and natural disasters in other parts of the world. London has seen two summers with very extended periods of dry weather. The houses in our streets are built on clay soil which shrinks at such times, and expands back at times of average or above average rainfall.
We have also experienced very heavy rainfalls at times, in an area at known risk of flash flooding should the main Thames Water Authority Counters Creek sewer/drain become overwhelmed.
These climatic changes have consequences locally:
- more residents have become aware of the Council’s flood prevention policies. The RBKC Local Plan policy CE2(f) resists impermeable surfaces in front gardens. This policy is reinforced and refined in the StQW Neighbourhood Plan and resists any such surface above the 5 sq m allowed under national Permitted Development Rights. This allows tiled pathways to be retained.
- more residents seem to be experiencing minor movement of their houses during these dry period, leading to occasional problems of jammed front doors and locks or small cracks in brickwork of front facades and window bays.
The Association continues to raise awareness of the fact that replacing front gardens with slates, tiles or concrete requires planning permission. This will not normally be granted by RBKC unless the new surface is of a permeable type and/or rainwater is drained away through some means other than it going into the public sewer/drain. So if you notice works in front gardens which may not have been granted permission, let the Association know and we will check on the position and pursue with the Council where necessary.
Problems of property subsidence in this neighbourhood have always existed, particularly in certain streets close to the original Counters Creek ‘lost river’ where the water table can be very high. The small movements in other streets are prompting some house owners to apply for felling of street trees near their property.
The more of these trees we lose, the less their beneficial impact in reducing poor air quality. The Association will be exploring this issue with the Council as we need better evidence on possible causes of minor movement within the terraces in this neighbourhood. Are street trees to blame and if so should we all be watering them in hot dry periods? Are the many basements built in this area over the past 15 years part of the cause of problems?
Another local concern which the Association will be examining in the coming months is the growing number of properties for being advertised for ‘short lets’. This includes those on Airbnb, Onefinestay, hometogo, passthekeys and others.
Occasional lets of this kind, staying within the ’90 night per year rule’ that applies in London, do not usually cause problems (other than for ‘party lets’). But short term lets with a succession of visitors often arriving and leaving at odd hours can and do cause noise and nuisance for some neighbours in this area. It is not clear that all landlords and ‘hosts’ are observing the ’90 night’ legal restriction.
The Council examined this growing problem in the Borough a couple of years back and published this RBKC Scrutiny report We will be looking into the number of properties being advertised for short-term lets in this neighbourhood, focusing on those which are ‘whole house’ or ‘whole flat’ and where the ‘host’ does not live on the premises.
This sector of the property industry has expanded hugely in all major capital cities and now bears little relation to the philosophy of ‘rent out a spare room to make some extra cash’ from which Airbnb and other commercial companies have grown.
If there are other local concerns which you feel the Association should be looking at, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are new to the area and would like to be added to our membership/mailing list, let us know. There is no membership fee. We circulate a monthly newsletter from sister body the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum and hold three or more open meetings a year at St Helens Church hall.