Bloomsbury Research Institute gets go ahead

A long awaited decision has been made on the proposed Bloomsbury Research Institute, to be constructed behind the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) building at 15-17 Tavistock Place. It has been granted full planning permission by Camden Council, subject to a Section 106 legal agreement.


No start date has yet been given for these works, which are anticipated to last for 2 years. The Marchmont Association has written to key stakeholders and partner organisations to make them aware of this development. We will also be seeking to assist with the smooth delivery of this major building project, for the benefit of the local community, through our participation in the Community Liaison Group, which the sponsors of the project, University College London and LSHTM, undertook to establish as a means of communicating with stakeholders for the duration of the construction.

The Construction Management Plan (CMP) was agreed as part of the planning consent and can be viewed on the Council’s planning pages relating to this project. Alternatively, we will provide interested parties with copies of the CMP on request, by using the ‘Get Involved’ link on the MA web site.

Residents and businesses will have all kinds of concerns, including noise, vibrations, dust, working hours – not to mention the impact on Tavistock Place and other streets which are on the intended route to be used by heavy goods vehicles servicing the construction works.

Bob Gilbert to be guest speaker at this year’s Friends of St George’s meeting

This year’s Friends of St George’s Gardens AGM will be on Thursday March 23, 7-9pm at the usual venue, Lumen Church, 88 Tavistock Place.


This year’s speaker will be Bob Gilbert, urban ecologist and author of The Green London Way. You may have met him at last year’s Bloomsbury Festival leading a fascinating walk through the Gardens.

The Green London Way is a different way of looking at London: a walking route of over 110 miles encircling the city -and divided into 18 separate and easily manageable sections. More than just a walking route, however, it’s a journey through the city’s social and natural history and especially the lost stories of the people who live, or once lived, here. More than anything else, it provides a testament to the open spaces of London and to those who have struggled, over many generations, to preserve them.

Iain Sinclair on ‘The Green London Way’:

‘More than ever now, as edgeland becomes a value to be fought over, we need the sanity and the calm informative voice of walkers like Bob Gilbert. This is more than an elegy, it’s an inspiration: open your eyes, see what is there and not what you are told is there.’

Routes off the streets

The recent icy weather brings the problem of rough sleeping into particularly sharp focus. The number of people rough sleeping in the borough has more than doubled over the last six years,  to more than 600 in 2016. This is a blog for Marchmont Voice by Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and the Voluntary Sector, on what the Council is able to do to help rough sleepers and how we can all help.

Image result for councillor jonathan simpson


No-one should be sleeping outside any time of the year, let alone in these freezing temperatures.

This month Camden Council has been providing additional ‘severe weather beds’ for our specialist service the Safer Streets Team (SST) to refer rough sleepers to, providing immediate respite from the cold as well as access to other support services so people don’t return to the street where possible.

The Council’s commitment to supporting people sleeping rough is not just something we do in the winter. Our specialist SST service operates all year round and is made up of highly skilled, tenacious and experienced professionals. We’re committed to funding this service despite the funding pressures this government is putting on local authorities.

Ironically, it’s the same government’s policy of austerity that is causing more people to sleep rough in Camden, across London and nationally. In 2010, we had about 250 people rough sleeping in the borough. Last year, the figure was over 600.

We’ve got to respond to this challenge. In February, the Council’s Cabinet will be scrutinising a proposed new policy that we’re calling ‘Routes off the streets’. The policy is designed to improve access to specialist services for rough sleepers who experience multiple disadvantages, such as supporting women and girls who have experienced violence and LBGT issues. As with any good public service, we need to consider all aspects of the individual’s needs, assessing the issues causing them to sleep rough in the first place.

The new strategy also recognises the need to work together. Ensuring health services, including primary care and treatment for addiction and mental health are available for those who need them.  We will work closely with all groups based in the community providing help and assistance to people sleeping rough, sharing expertise and energy so that together we’re able to respond to the challenges of emerging issues such as labour exploitation and human trafficking.

We know that one of the most important things is to try and ensure a consistency of approach across London.  This is a city wide, national and international issue and one we can’t solve alone in Camden.

We’re already working with the London Mayor’s No Nights Sleeping Rough Taskforce and local agencies to enhance the support available including the provision of temporary accommodation and assessment space away from the street.

There is also a pressing requirement for all London boroughs to work together and with the Greater London Authority and central government on developing approaches and allocating further funding that can assist rough sleepers as quickly as possible.

We want you to play a part too. We’ve all been in the situation when we’ve come across someone on the streets, but we’re not sure how to respond. ‘Routes off the streets’ will focus on making more residents, visitors and businesses in Camden aware of the services available to rough sleepers and how they can to assist in tackling the problem.

These approaches will help meet our commitment to offer a route off the street for every person who ends up rough sleeping in our borough. I would urge anyone who has concerns about rough sleeping in the borough to contact our  Safer Streets hotline at any time on 020 7833 7970 or Freephone 0808 800 0005 and to encourage others to do so.




Get out there! Bloomsbury guided walks for winter

VAL MARTIN MEMORIAL WALKS -Dates for February 2017 Guided, Historic Walking Tours of our Bloomsbury Squares, Val Martin Memorial Walks are free of charge and open to the public. No need to RSVP. Just show up! Everyone is welcome. They occur every Saturday and begin at 11:00am on the front steps of The Goodenough Club, 23 Mecklenburgh […]

via Step out in February — Bloomsbury Squares & Gardens

Reflections on a filthy week


On two days in the last week, the air quality in London was worse than in Beijing.   Particulate pollution soared to a “very high” level — black or 10/10 — in 20 London locations, according to scientists at King’s College. Bloomsbury was one of the 20. Four hundred London schools were said to be “choking” in areas breaching legal pollution limits. Almost certainly that would have included Argyle, Christopher Hatton and St George the Martyr.

Recommendations from the Mayor’s Office included the ideas that you should stay indoors and avoid doing physical exercise. Parents have been warned not to take babies outside. No word about not driving a car. Even though it’s known that the pollution inside a vehicle is even worse than for either pedestrians or cyclists. As Fitzrovia News reported, a common sight during the week’s cold snap was drivers in parked cars, idling their engines, sitting snugly in the warmth of a diesel fog.

The Evening Standard ran the story on its front page and said that “drastic action seen in European cities such as Paris, Rome and Milan — which in the past have all implemented temporary vehicle bans in response to soaring pollution — should not be ruled out.” Paris this week banned vehicles registered before 2000.

Locally, we spent a lot of 2016 discussing whether to to have pollution on Judd St or Tavistock Place. If it can be seen through the haze, there’s a bigger picture out there somewhere.

Holborn Library among ‘top ten’ threatened C20th buildings


The 20th Century Society waded into the debate about the future of Holborn Library this week. The Guardian featured the  Library in a story about the destruction of ‘some of Britain’s most remarkable buildings [which] are in danger of being lost as a result of development, dwindling budgets and short-termism.”

Holborn Library is included on a list of the top ten buildings that are under threat, according to the Twentieth Century Society. The director of the Society, Catherine Croft, is quoted in the article as saying: “We are witnessing the death of idealism and public spiritedness which underpinned so much of the best architecture of the 20th century.” Holborn library, built in 1960, is described in the article as “a milestone in the history of the modern public library”.

Camden Council is planning a large-scale  redevelopment of the Library site, Cockpit Yard and Johns Mews, which will involve  more than 100 residential units for private sale and social housing  being built on top of the Library building and behind it on the site of the Cockpit Yard workshops.  The Library is planned to be totally rebuilt, creating a café and events spaces but possibly less space for book stacks and reading areas. The scheme has prompted opposition from residents in nearby Great James St.

In addition – as reported in the CNJ – there are fears that some of the extensive archives in the in the library, looked after by the Local Studies and Archives Centre, are to be moved off-site.

Fitzrovia News – UK nationals not migrants pushing up rough sleeper numbers

The Times newspaper this morning runs a story with the misleading headline: “Migrants drive 50% rise in rough sleepers”. In its article The Times reports on yesterday’s release of official statistics of numbers of homeless people sleeping outside during the autumn of 2016. “More than 20 per cent of those identified as rough sleepers were […]

via It is the increasing number of UK nationals not migrants who are pushing up rough sleeper numbers — Fitzrovia News