Thursday 13 December 2007

When is it too late to try?

Steele's the butchers in Hampstead is to close.
Joe is retiring after a lifetime and so it will cease trading in the near future.

I'm not close to Joe at all - I pop in there occasionally, grateful and delighted to have a local independent butcher - I was in there last week to buy my copy of the Hampstead meat cook book, but is this the sort of thing you try and 'save'?

Linda Chung, the energetic Hampstead village campaigner, hit the nail on the head when she was reported in the Ham and High as saying there should be some kind of planning definition that replaces like-with-like. A formal planning guidance note that stops everything becoming a national/international coffee chain or mobile phone shop... that enables a local council, under request from the community to designate certain shops and locations to certain uses and identities.

There is talk in the village of some residents investing in the butchers (buying it?) and trying to keep it as a going concern, but there are also rumours that it is sold already and will become an office/shop front for a parking enforcement company...

Either way doesn't fill you with huge amount of hope, and I suspect there is more to it all than meets the eye. What I do know is that I care passionately for Hampstead, I love its village atmosphere, the area is the better for independent shops and Flask Walk is one of the most valuable illustrations of this.

'Something must be done' is the easy cry - but the fact is local planning laws are not flexible enough, it would require a Government amendment and no Labour or Tory Government has been prepared to countenance such devolved power... I fear this one will just slip past us and we will all be there to watch and regret it, powerless and sad.

1 comment:


aren't there enough neolibs living in the area with money who could buy it instead of this continual lament on your excellent blog