Camden Council compulsorily purchases houses at 8-42 Bassett Street, which are deemed beyond repair.
Architects Castle Park Dean Hook are commissioned to design a scheme for the redevelopment of 8-42 Bassett Street and the dairy at the rear of no. 8 Bassett Street. The area at the south of the site was originally allocated for 20 car parking spaces, as Bassett Street was proposed to be pedestrianised.
Construction of 6-60 Bassett Street is completed, comprising 14no. 3-bedroom maisonettes and 14no. one-bedroom flats.
In the early 80s the space to the south of 6-60 Bassett Street is used by residents of 6-60; they ask Camden for play equipment to be installed but this is not provided. Gradually the space becomes unused and uncared for. It is referred to as ‘Bassett Street Open Space’ by the Council.
A housing association applies for planning permission to develop Bassett Street Open Space for housing. This is refused by Camden on the grounds that:
“the development would result in the loss an open space which provides a valuable amenity for local residents where there is a shortage of such space in the surrounding area.”
CRAB Neighbourhood Association is set up with the aim of improving the quality of the environment in the following streets: Coity Road, Rhyl Street, Allcroft Road and Bassett Street. CRAB obtains the promise of £60,000 from the Government’s Door Step Greens initiative, but due to lack of interest from the Council this opportunity is lost.
Possible renovation of the unused Bassett Street Open Space is raised by CRAB residents. Camden planners confirm that:
“the lawful use of the site is open space and was originally intended as space associated with the development of 6-60 Bassett Street. As long as the open character of the land is retained there would not be an objection in principle to the use of the land as a community garden”.
Gospel Oak District Housing Office commissions Levitt Bernstein landscape architects:
“to work with CRAB Neighbourhood Association on a two-stage feasibility study for the open space adjacent to 6-60 Bassett Street. The open space is owned by London Borough of Camden Housing Department and has remained vacant for a number of years. It is used by dogs and for fly tipping. It is seen as a dangerous area and an eyesore. The feasibility study consists of two parts: Consultation and Option development. The aim is to provide ideas about how the space could be improved and turned into a community facility.”
The consultation results in the agreement that the space should be turned into a community garden, with the support of all local councillors and the Housing Department. Levitt Bernstein produce three designs which are consulted upon further. £95,000 assigned to the project.
Camden erects railings around Bassett Street Open Space, with a locked gate. CRAB Neighbourhood Association campaign for the residents of 6-60 to be given keys to the space.
Formal complaint about lack of access to the space. Camden confirm that:
“The site has no specific planning designation, and there is no planning requirement to allow access to the land”.
Camden gives keys to the residents of 6-60 Bassett Street.
CRAB Neighbourhood Association brings to the attention of the Council structural defects in the retaining wall between the space and the Coity Road houses. The wall is rebuilt by the Council.
CRAB Neighbourhood Association applies to Capital Growth for funding for a food growing site.
CRAB Neighbourhood Association consults residents of 6-60 Bassett Street regards the possible development of the space.
Groundwork Camden starts work to set up a food growing project. This is open to people living in the Kentish Town area to take part.
Bassett Street Gardening Club is constituted. Rhyl Street TRA agrees to take responsibility for the space on behalf of the Gardening Club for insurance purposes.
ABC Community Group is set up as a TRA in order to hold the ‘Licence to Occupy’ from the Council and provide insurance for the garden. Bassett Street Gardening Club becomes a sub-committee of the TRA.
Camden Council considers selling the site to a private developer, but decides:
“not to continue with the consultation and determined that development /disposal will not take place and that the site will be retained in its existing use for community food growing.”
ABC Community Group sign the ‘Licence to Occupy’ for a two year period.
Bassett Street Gardening Club holds its annual AGM as usual. Cllr. Alison Kelly is present along with members of the TRA. The TRA/ Gardening Club co-ordinator is appointed.
ABC Community Group asks Bassett Street Gardening Club to find a new TRA to be responsible for the space, as it does not wish to continue.
ABC Community Group folds. Camden holds a consultation into the future of Bassett Street Garden. The results are not published but are believed to be in support of the gardening club being able continue their activities.
Camden consults residents of 6-60 Bassett Street.
Camden announces the closure of the Community Garden. This is due to the fact that a few people who live in 6-60 Bassett Street do not want other people to benefit from the use of the space that they believe to be theirs. Despite their having been involved in the gardening club from the start they now believe that it is fair to evict the community from the garden. In pursing this action they have been backed by the local District Management Committee and the council; this is deeply distressing for people who have spent the last 20 years campaigning for this unused space to be made available to the community.
20th July 2019
The Gardening Club holds a general meeting and votes to reconstitute itself as a stand-alone community group.
Meeting with Cllr. Alison Kelly about the campaign to Save Bassett Street Community garden.
1st August 2019, article in the Camden New Journal:
A FRESH plea to stop community gardeners from being turfed out of a council-owned plot in Kentish Town comes amid claims most of the people in the neighbouring block want them to stay.
The Town Hall has told an 80-strong gardening club in Bassett Street it must leave as part of a plan to give exclusive access to tenants and leaseholders living in a council block next door.
Residents met the gardeners at a meeting last week and said there was a majority opinion to keep things the way they are. Camden insists its own consultation survey of residents has paved the way for the change.
But a leaseholder, who owns two properties in the 30-flat block, told the New Journal that the decision to close the gardens “beggars belief”.
“We believe at most it is five people in the block who said they would like to use the garden – but Camden Council own the land, not the tenants or leaseholders,” they said. “I find it astonishing that public land should be made available to a tiny group of people who have never showed any interest in using it and already have outdoor space of their own.”
They added: “We are planning to help the gardening club save their space and will show the tenants and leaseholders feelings by organising a petition in their support. If anyone in the block wants to use the garden, all they have to do is apply for a plot.”
Rhyl school headteacher Helen Connor, whose school has used the garden for 10 years, told the New Journal: “Many of our families have their own plots which they tend and grow vegetables. These families all live in social housing and do not have acces to outside space. It is a valuable community asset. ”
She added: “I was extremely surprised to read in the CNJ that the council have decided to turn it into a private garden for a few residents. ”
Housing chief Labour Councillor Meric Apak said: “Following the end of the three-year licence granted to the community garden project, we became aware of a number of differing opinions on how to best use this location.”
He added: “Going forward, the management of the garden will be agreed with the tenants and leaseholders living in 6-60 Bassett Street, and I am happy to facilitate a meeting of minds between the groups if that is what they want.”
15th August 2019: letter in the CNJ
30th August 2019: letter in the CNJ
24th October 2019: article in the CNJ
GARDENERS have been told they have one week left to down their rakes and spades – and move out of a community plot.
Members of the Bassett Street Gardening Club have been battling to save their growing space for months after council officers told them they were being evicted, so the land could be given to a neighbouring block of flats as a private space.
The Town Hall claim the land has always been attached to the flats and the gardening club – which has 80 plots used by a primary school, nursery and neighbours – must vacate the site.
An alternative site in Weedington Road was suggested but the club say the site is not fit for their purposes.
The eviction comes after a Town Hall survey of people living in the block found some would like to access the patch of land. Meetings have failed to result in a compromise.
Gardener John Langan said: “This has been a flawed process from the start. The decision to remove us has been manifestly mismanaged by the council. People are immensely disappointed. They said they were following protocol, and their reasons were dressed up in legal language. They listened to what we had to say but they had already worked out what they were going to tell us.We had to agree as we had no choice.”
A Town Hall spokesman said: “After a productive meeting it was agreed that the club would vacate the garden this month to allow the tenant and residents’ association to take over the management of the plot,” adding: “Camden has offered the gardening club an alternative site which they can choose”.
31st October 2019: letter to the CNJ
February – March 2020
The garden is demolished by London Borough of Camden.