The independent London newspaper

Regeneration needs to be handled with great care

08 November, 2018

Roger Winfield and Henry Hirzberg from the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum in Regis Road

THERE is no doubt that the large expanse of industrial estate in Regis Road is under-used, and could be redevel­oped to great effect.

The back-end of Kentish Town has, for many years, been a no-through-route for traffic and a dead end to pedestrians.

Few will have ventured down there, other than to pay a parking fine or take unwanted belongings to the recycling centre. But there is, according to the council, space for more than 1,300 new homes, jobs and green space.

A consultation has been launched that is, whatever positive noises the Town Hall makes, unlikely to dictate the final plans for a “better connected neighbourhood”.

The aim of bridging the railway tracks to create links between the regeneration and Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead Heath, should certainly be explored.

The influx of so many homes could also revitalise Queen’s Crescent’s market, if those barriers were broken down. The changes must not only be part of a borough-wide plan, as the Neighbourhood Forum suggests, but also a masterplan for London.

Existing businesses must also be protected in any scheme in a way that, perhaps, was not the case during the radical transformation of West Hampstead.

The council must consider what has happened in West Hampstead, which was also designated as a “growth area” before hundreds of residential units were built there. Businesses were cast out, many felt aggrieved as high-rent paying chains moved in. Residents fought the expansion in West End Lane in a protest that lasted years. Now the narrow high street is flooded at rush hour, as if at Euston or Victoria.

Could the same happen in Kentish Town?

Large-scale regeneration projects must be introduced with the proper infrastructure. New areas need new doctors, new firefighters, bus stops, wider pavements in the sur­rounding streets. A bigger and better accessible underground station may need to be built.

Regeneration can end up swamping an area and irrep­arably changing its character.

Is it right that employers can order staff to take drug tests?

IN many ways right is on the side of the street-cleaning company Veolia in wanting to discipline its employees.

Little argument can be found with the assertion that their drivers need to be sober and with sound judgment, otherwise the public would be at risk.

But is there a need for a blanket company policy empowering the management with the right to order all staff to undertake tests for alcohol and cannabis use? Surely only the police should have such rights.

If an employee is thought to be unfit for work he can be suspended or dismissed for gross misconduct under standard employment rules.

We also wonder what the lobby for the legalisation of cannabis would make of Veolia’s decision?

Perhaps, it will make the lobbyists stop and think.

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