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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 12 June 2008
We still don’t know what – if anything – is agreed

• AS you so rightly say in your Comment, the Dalby Street scheme is fizzing with questions (The ‘marshals’ plan could mean further conflict, May 29).
The public inquiry over the stopping up of Dalby Street which took place in January of this year puzzled the local residents who bothered to attend and make representation.
Mayor Ken Livingstone had ordered such an inquiry to delve into a 106 agreement, this being a legal proposal which would outline how the developers intended to deal with the access problems created by the closure of an important public road, Dalby Street.
To everyone’s surprise, however, no 106 agreement had been agreed prior to the inquiry.
The developers and Camden officers sat on the fence during the entire procedure and gave in on the grounds as the public fought their own corner against them.
Documents such as were available before the hearing were not signed agreements. By the time the inquiry was underway, these were no longer relevant as the developers kept introducing new documents at the last minute, so moving the goal posts. Only those who could afford to take four days off to attend the entire proceedings were able to keep up with what turned out to be negotiations “on the hoof” rather than a serious inquiry into an existing agreement.
Yet, despite all these changes initiated by the developers, no 106 agreement was signed by the time the inspector closed the inquiry.
To this day, no one knows what, if anything, has been agreed. It could be anything.
It could bear little resemblance to what was discussed at the inquiry.
We could be in for a big surprise if the council stamped their approval on the stopping up of Dalby Street.
The public inquiry was meant to reassure the public that all matters related to a legal document had been carefully studied and a proper conclusion as to what the merits of such an agreement were.
This was not done.
The idea of using marshals to circumvent the many problems created by the stopping up of Dalby Street is just one of the disturbing aspects of this scheme.
No one believes the scheme could work, with or without marshals.
The inevitable long-term consequences of such a scheme would leave the council, local residents, the Talacre Community Sports Centre and Talacre Gardens vulnerable. One can only hope that the council will realise this and turn down the proposal for the stopping up of Dalby Street.
Beverley Gardner
Chair of Athlone Tenants Association,
Athlone Street, NW5

Costly idea

• THE Dalby Street development now seemingly requires the public – the occupiers of the proposed 55 flats – to subsidise the profits of the developers (This road marshals idea will mean disaster ahead, June 5).
Residents will be left to pick up the cost of the frankly desperate and eccentric road marshal scheme. Surely those who make the profits should pay costs, not the residents!
Is this not “triple” taxation: residents obliged to pay from income already taxed by central and local Camden government, a third tax by way of a de facto subsidy to the developers?
Second, is not keeping the roads safe for pedestrians a duty of those elected to do so? Particularly so when those elected have actually created the unsafe conditions by granting planning permission.
And what of the cost? This bizarre road marshal scheme will clearly be labour – 24/7 – intensive, in perpetuity.
Working out the total long-term cost would require some professional effort which clearly the council’s planners have not done. (Or if they have, they should tell the public.) Will one road marshal per shift be sufficient or two?
Taking a one man a shift 24/7 model, I estimate the first year’s annual cost will be around £100,000 on three shifts a day. That implies that each of the 55 flats will be expected to pay £1,800 pounds a year road marshal cost a year on top of their usual community tax charge. That seems unreasonable and disproportionate.
Or more than £3,600 pa if two marshals are required to be on duty at all times.
On a 30-year basis alone, the one-marshal model will represent an onerous development cost to be placed on the shoulders of the residents.
Probably more than £3million, even before one starts adjusting for future inflation.
And probably requiring a capital sum in excess of £50million on that basis alone, if it were funded by the developers, as arguably it should be. The proposed scheme is unfair in principle, operationally unsound and financially unsustainable. It also looks a political, constitutional and legal minefield.
The developers should be invited to put up a capital sum to fully fund it through a trust fund. Since that figure will run into many millions of pounds, I predict that they will decline the offer. There should be no case for the council committing future generations of Camden taxpayers to it either.
Robert Sutherland Smith
Widecombe Way, N2


• YOUR Comment hits the nail on the head when it says it is fizzing with problems down the road (The ‘marshals’ plan could mean further conflict, May 29).
Just consider this one. If the flats are built, there will be 36 private flat owners plus whoever owns the “affordable” flats who will be in a position to object to any changes that the sports centre and Treetops might wish to make – forever.
Under law, the council cannot use any legal agreement to seek to interfere with a person’s right to make representations about a planning scheme.
To give just one example, this would mean that if ever the sports centre needed planning permission to increase its activities and the change meant more marshalling expense and therefore higher service charges, it would probably be prevented.
And that is just a random example.
Nick Harding
St Anns Gardens, NW5

Talacre a real asset

• I AM the mother of four children aged under eight and use Talacre Community Sports Centre pretty much every day.
My children attend gymnastics and football classes and my toddler goes to Treetops and Babygym. Their schools also use the centre for sports classes.
Talacre is an incredible asset for parents in the area. My friends travel from as far as Willesden and Hackney to use it. It has been responsible for Camden becoming one of the most successful boroughs in competitive gymnastics. I’m sure everyone who uses it would agree that it is an example of local sports centre provision at its very best – the kind of place the Olympic Committee should be looking at in formulating their plans for locally sustainable sports facilities after 2012.
The current planning proposal to build a block of flats on Dalby Street will be a disaster for Talacre.
The idea of access to the flats, their underground car park, and the sports centre including deliveries being co-ordinated by marshals from a narrow road with no pavements and no passing space for larger vehicles will throw the surrounding area into chaos.
It will be difficult and dangerous for pedestrians, particularly those who use Talacre the most – parents with pushchairs and groups of young schoolchildren.
Talacre is one of our borough’s greatest assets. Let’s hope its future isn’t jeopardised for the sake of another block of flats.
Kate Orr
Albert Street, NW1

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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