RedFrog was formed in 1988 as an umbrella association for the individual street associations (which maintain their own identities) to carry greater weight and to be better able to participate successfully in planning battles.
Below is a summary precis of the main topics addressed over twenty years of meetings, the themes recurring over the years. For more comprehensive detail on these topics and outcomes please read:
Very few achievements and continued degradation of the Conservation Area character led to the formation in 2012 of the Redington Frognal Neighbourhood Forum for the purpose of developing a Neighbourhood Plan to guide the Area’s future development. The Redington Frognal Neighbourhood Plan was formally submitted to Camden in May 2020.
Threats to the Redfrog area arose from a combination of aggressive development and a weak under-resourced planning dept at Camden.
During this period the Conservation Area (CA) only extended as far as Heath Drive, and there was no CA Plan. Residents’ voices were very weak, but after Rosecroft RA achieved an unexpected court victory against a developer a number of local RA’s decided to pool resources with an “umbrella association” covering the whole CA. The Redington FrognalAssociation was formed, and the CA was quickly extended to cover the “Crofts” Kidderpore Ave, Platts Lane, Briardale Ave and Clorane Gdns.
Early targets for Redfrog were development of a council approved CA Plan and oversight of planning applications within the CA. In spite of the chaos within Camden’s Planning Dept. a CA plan was eventually adopted in 1992 – the first approved in Camden for many years. Other CA’s caught on and the work became normalised in Camden through the 1990’s, coinciding with an improvement in Camden’s management.
Redfrog joined in the HCAAC Planning inspection process.
Westfield College merged with KCL, who put the southern part of their campus up for sale. It was bought by developers who wanted to build high density flats. Redfrog fought the scheme in detail, winning many design improvements, but ultimately losing as the modified scheme gains permission.
Residents parking arrived: Redfrog persuaded Camden to introduce limited hours restrictions, in the first break from Camden’s “one size fits all” policy.
The Redfrog Magazine was introduced, and ran for over ten years.
Traffic calming and school run problems proved divisive; most of the ambitious traffic ideas didn’t win approval, although humps were introduced on several roads. Redfrog joined a panel to develop policy for schools traffic.
Redfrog joins Camden’s Development User Panel, and produces a road and pavement survey to identify which areas most need maintenance and repair, which becomes an annual fixture.
Finchley Road: Between 2003 and 2007, the Finchley Road Community Forum (FRCF) attempted to address the problems resulting from the widening of Finchley Road from 4 lanes to 6 lanes which, together with the installation of central railings, created a speedway and bisected the town centre. A number of measures are proposed (please see full details here).
School Run Traffic: A number of recommendations are made by RedFrofg to the Camden School Run Scrutiny Panel, including:
- remote drop-off points from where children can be transported to the various schools by either minibuses or ‘walking buses’. Sainsbury’s at the O2 Centre had already expressed an interest in utilising its car park for such a purpose
- shuttle buses on Finchley Road between Golders Green and Swiss Cottage
- phasing out of the parking dispensation scheme.
Green Travel Plans and Safer Routes are developed (further details included here).
Traffic calming: Measures are introduced on the basis of accident statistics and the presence of children. RedFrog expresses a number of concerns over measures that are ineffective or unnecessary (further details included here).
Conservation Area: The Redington Frognal Conservation Area Statement and Guidelines was published in 2003.
Blue Plaque scheme: The idea of a commemorative scheme was proposed for the RedFrogConservation Area in order to lend identity and interest and promote awareness of the RedFrog Conservation Area.
Representations to major planning applications, including:
- Devonshire House expansion PWX0103367
- UCS expansion PWX0202724
HCAAC advised that Camden intends to destroy all planning records after five years, except those that have been transferred onto its website. The chair of HCAAC has objected.
Traffic calming: A number of London boroughs work to impose borough-wide speed limits, enforced by humps and bumps, average speed cameras, or 20 mph signs painted onto the road surface. Speed measures in Belsize Lane have had no or minimal impact.
- Tree planters (secure boxes planted in the ground) could be used at selected locations for traffic calming.
- In 2009 consultation proposals were being drawn up for a new 20mph speed limit in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, supported by average speed cameras.
- The need for improvement to the junction of Arkwright Road and Frognal was raised with Camden Highways.
Rat running: Virtually all of Hampstead suffers from corridors of rat-running and, in the Redington Frognal area, Briardale Gardens and Ferncroft Avenue are particularly affected.
Please see the attachment for details.
Engagement with TfL and Cycling on Hampstead Heath: Residents expressed concern that the TfL / Sustrans campaign to facilitate cycling, through the proposed introduction of “Network Routes” and shared paths across Hampstead Heath, will inevitably result in more off-path cycling. It would also be impossible to enforce the restriction to cycle only on designated cycle routes. Please see the attachment for details.
Controlled Parking Zones: RedFrog prepared responses to Camden’s parking enforcement survey and to its questionnaire, “A Public Consultation on Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) Arrangement in Camden”.
School run: Camden’s policy to offer schools free parking permits effectively encouraged parents to use their cars, and was reviewed with the intention to reduce congestion during rush-hour. Please see the attachment for details.
School Bus Project – Proposals for a school bus service for the 15 private schools in the area, were launched in October 2009, with a view to commencing a pilot in January 2010, if supported by the consultation outcome.
Air quality –Air quality is also affected by large, hired coaches (eg for P.E.), which are rarely filled to capacity and park with their engines running. It was requested that this is looked at as part of the proposals.
Basements and hydrogeology: Springs generally occur at the boundary between Bagshot sand and clay, as at St. John’s church, where there is subsidence, and in Kenwood. It is noted that Frognal, in particular, has suffered flooding problems as a result of basement excavation, causing the road to be closed and adjacent houses to be flooded. Such excavations may in themselves cause subsidence.
The Heath and Hampstead Society (HHS) is concerned about the geological impact of the current spate of basement development applications, particularly those planned for sites situated on Bagshot sand. It has consulted the geologist, Prof. Eric Robinson of University College London.
Representations on planning applications:
King’s College south site, of 2.5 acres, including 17a – 25 Kidderpore Avenue and 328 / 338 Finchley Road as well as the seven-storey Caroline Skeel Library (5,300 sq. ft.) and two halls of residence providing 220 bed spaces.
The site was acquired by Barratt Homes from King’s College in early 2007 and, following drop-in public consultations in July 2008, it emerged that a massive over-development was planned. Residents raised their concerns at a Development Control Forum on 28 October 2008.
Other planning applications – RedFrog needs to pool information and ideas in order to establish a coherent picture of the developments proposed in the area.
RedFrog is seeing a number of large-scale applications for very substantial dwellings of 1,500 – 2,000 sq. m., eg at Sarum Chase, 23 West Heath Road. Such extensive and prolonged construction works are having a damaging effect on roads and pavements, notably in Templewood Avenue and Bishops Avenue. Pavements can be blocked off and roads disrupted for several years, while re-developed buildings may never be occupied. The length of time for which a pavement is blocked off could be regulated under the applicant’s Construction Management Plan.
It was suggested to Cllr. Knight that Camden might initiate a local policy to limit the size of an individual home to 1,000 sq. m. as part of its Conservation Area policy.
HCAAC covers four conservation areas: Fitzjohn’s / Netherhall, Hampstead, South Hill Park and RedFrog. It holds twice monthly inspection panels, at which it reviews about 20 planning applications and meets monthly to review planning issues and specific problems.
HCAAC is concerned about the impact of basement and swimming poolconstruction on the Conservation Area and is writing to Camden to express its concern.
Planning enforcement – The perception of the Heath and Hampstead Society is that Camden’s planning officers are not making decisions in accordance with the Conservation Area Guidelines and that it is very rare that applications are rejected. HCAAC focuses on the applications which have not yet been approved and reports on why applications which are passed have been approved. They perceive that Camden is riding roughshod over residents’ objections. The Development Users’ Committee looks at how officers apply planning policy and enforcement priorities are high agenda for the next meeting, which will be attended by RedFrog.
Generally, when an application has been lodged, it is advisable to make telephone contact with the case officer and discuss the application prior to writing. Camden has a policy of not invoking criminal action in the case of illegal development, as it is unwilling to finance such actions. It is important that successful enforcement should be widely publicised.
Tree felling: Camden often appears over-eager to fell trees on its land. The felling of plane trees in Fitzjohn’s Avenue has been shown to be unnecessary and subsidence is generally not due to tree roots.
Residents expressed serious concern about the impact of replacing the leaking Victorian water mains with non-leaking pipes on water availability for street trees and their future health and the incidence of subsidence.
It will become all the more important to prevent the paving over of front gardens, and Article 4 Directions will be key to this.
Camden Biodiversity Action Plan: The compatibility of Camden’s Biodiversity Action Plan with the grant of planning consents for tree felling, rear garden extensions and front garden car parking was queried.
Camden’s Biodiversity Action Plan is a requirement from central Government, since the UK is a signatory to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. The UK list of priority species and habitats was published in August 2007 and Camden has exceeded the Government target on bat boxes.
Article 4 Direction: In 2009, Camden proposed to apply to the Secretary of State to implement Article 4 Directions for the Hampstead, Belsize and Swiss Cottage Conservation Areas but only in respect of alterations to the fronts of properties.
There is a trend in the Redington Frognal Conservation Area for dwellings to be converted back to single occupancy. Among such owners, there is a feeling that they are within their rights to carry out any work they wish in rear gardens and, as a result, the amenity of rear gardens is being seriously eroded.
Residents were urged to complete an online Consultation before 7.12.2009 and to seek the extension of Article 4 to RedFrog and rear gardens.
RedFrog website: To facilitate RedFrog’s future development, the first priority should be to develop a website. Work to develop a website began in 2009.
RedFrog organisation: It was suggested that a rather more effective method of operation would be to assign members to smaller working groups with specific responsibilities, reporting on progress at RedFrog meetings.
Volunteers were sought for roles including:
- Street tree warden (filled November 2009).
- Private tree warden (filled by Noel Brock of Frognal Gardens)
- Planning: Two volunteers were sought. One of these roles was filled (September 2009); the other remained unfilled.
- Planning Policy Officer
- Traffic calming. Two roles remained unfilled.
- Monitoring of pavement and road surface conditions. The role continued to be filled.
- Street furniture officer (filled November 2009).
- Membership Secretary. This role was filled from January 2010
- Roadworks officer
- Website development. The role was filled from November 2009.
- Web editor: to supply and approve website content. The role was shared by four residents from February 2010.
St. Luke’s Church Free School: Department for Education approval was granted for the school (part of the Anglican Evangelical Church) in September 2010. The Church granted the school a 25-year lease, incorporating a 5-year break clause for either party.