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The Liveable Crouch End Project - are they treating us like mushrooms

I'm not happy with the way the Liveable Crouch End project is being handled so I have written to 

Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability

Councillor Kirsten Hearn

  • Air Quality
  • Biodiversity and Trees
  • Carbon Management and Zero 50
  • Liveable Neighbourhoods
  • London Plan and NPPF Consultation
  • Parks and Open Spaces
  • Planning Enforcement
  • Planning Policy and Delivery
  • Renewable Energy
  • S106 / CIL policy
  • Sustainability
  • Strategic Transport

Councillor Hearn's ward and contact details.

as follows

Dear Councillor Hearn


I'm writing to you as a member of the OpinioN8 delegation to the Liveable Crouch End Stakeholder Forum, to ask you to improve the flow of information from the project to the public, especially the Stakeholder Forums.
Your address to the Liveable Neighbourhoods Conference
I have read the proceedings of the recent Liveable Neighbourhoods conference, held in Haringey, at which you are quoted as asking
“How much do you engage with the people we are designing for? People are against change, frightened they might not be able to cope with new things. Do we remember this when we are consulting and engaging in scheme designs?”  
The quote doesn't actually answer the (largely rhetorical?) questions, but I think the implication is that there should be a lot of engagement, that the designs should represent what local people want and need , and that the change when it comes does not result in fear and opposition. It is not my impression that this is what is happening on the Crouch End project.
Communications from the Project
I've looked in my emails for the minutes of a stakeholder meeting held in April, but I can't find them. I've asked for them by email, by phone and in person, but none have yet been forthcoming. I don't find this engaging.
We have been told that statistics have been gathered, to do with traffic numbers, air quality, pedestrian presence and cycle journeys, and that we would be granted access to this data. All we have seen so far is a highly summarised infographic, entirely unsuitable for us to use as the basis for a reasoned assessment of the proposals.
In respect of the proposals, I have, as a stakeholder seen maps and diagrams, but have been asked not to make these public. This feels wrong. When eventually the proposals are made available they will be fully formed. They will represent meaningful and quite extensive change. The sort of change which you have implied will frighten people, the sort of change which people will be against. Surely these proposals should be aired as soon as possible, to chime in with the theme of transparency, which also came out of the conference.
Changes to the Project Timetable
I know that the timetable for the project has recently been changed. One of the TfL gateway assessments has been brought forward whilst public consultation has been put back. This severely dents the credibility of the project's repeated assertion that all the options are still open to debate and change, that nothing has yet been decided. I cannot believe that TfL will sign off a project gateway on the basis that nothing has yet been decided. There will be concrete proposals, written documentation and carefully drafted plans which the project team will agree with TfL. But not with me, nor the rest of the Crouch End public. This reworking of the schedule seems designed to bring about the sort of opposition seen recently in Bow, where trials were cancelled at short notice, and at the meeting of the Glasslyn Montenotte and Talbot Roads Residents' Association in Highgate Wood School, where the cells approach was roundly criticised.
The Mayor's approach to consultation
Sadiq Khan said in a recent letter
"It would be disingenuous to consult on these [proposals] when there is little we can change, so in the future we are more likely to be engaging local communities on our proposals.
This will help them understand the change and our reasons behind it and give them an opportunity to voice any concerns."
Which I think echoes the points you were making in the quote above.
In further Summary
I believe you are the chair of the Project Board, and the sponsor of this project. I think you'd like it to be a success. I look forward to your response to my request for more interaction between the project team and the Crouch End public.
Thanking you in advance.

To watch Cllr Hearn speak of an act of love click here 

Tags: hearn, liveable crouch end

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Replies to This Discussion

Don't worry, these things are being decided at the appropriate level.

Yes, in a marquee full of people wearing lanyards, gazing intently at a screen high lighting the location of Crouch End's notorious underground station.

I perhaps should have mentioned that I have received the obligatory 'out of office' notice from Cllr. Hearn

I have had a reply from Kirsten Hearn, which is good.

My interpretation of it , though , is that it is an attempt to fob me off, to kick the can down the road, to befuddle me with meta-technicalities, to fill me with a sense of my own importance at getting a meeting with a Cabinet Member, whilst all the time the very thing I have complained about runs on unchecked.  Which is bad.

My response to it is to be angry and to fire off a sarcastic reply. Which is typical.

The effect of my sarcastic reply will be to cut me out of any further communication with Cllr Hearn. Which is neither here nor there, given that the purpose of her communication with me was primarily to prevent me having an opinion.

What do you think?

Cllr Hearn;s response:

Hi Adrian,

Apologies but I’m just back from leave and wrestling my bulging inbox into submission.

Mark Acourt (o might have spelled his name wrong) is on the board from Crouch end Neighbourhood Forum. I would agree with you that we need to further engage with the community and have asked officers to do this.

We are going into trials after the summer. Nothing is set in stone. WE need to see if particular measures  work, and if they don’t, which may happen, we need to try something else. There’s only so much that computer modelling can do in the end.

I am happy to meet with  you, with officers to talk over your concerns. My Cabinet Support Officer (copied in) will try to arrange a time. It may not be till after August though, as I will bring an officer or two who has more technical   expertise than I have.

If there are community groups you think we should be engaging with, please let me know and I will ask officers to do that, as they work through this stage of the project, and onwards.

Best wishes,


In reply to which my sarcastic response

Dear Cllr Hearn

Thank you for your reply so soon after your return.
I think I owe you an apology. It seems there are some things I did not make clear.
1) I am writing as a representative of OpinioN8. This correspondence has nothing to do with the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum.
2) My concerns have nothing to do with the technical details of what is being proposed. I am simply concerned that these technical details are not being communicated sufficiently, nor in a timely fashion, with the general public in Crouch End. I believe that this will result in precisely the fear of change and the ensuing backlash implied in the quote from your conference speech
3) I further believe that the designs on which the project team are now working will become ever more set and immune to change. Especially if a further TfL gateway is passed. Haringey in general was warned that this would be an error by the Waltham Forest Streets for All group some time ago. I am sorry I do not have a date for the source document. They wrote  (CONSULTATION paragraph 4):
"The Council did then proceed to consult residents, but having already designed and costed the proposed alterations to our borough and having employed officers to implement them they were naturally very reluctant to make any changes."
You seem deliberately to be ignoring this advice, which will be to the detriment of the project. The full document is attached and available online
4) I am not seeking a meeting, especially one which cannot take place until September and at which technical details will be discussed. This will result in nothing but continued inaction, followed by vague promises for more information in the future. This is a project management issue. As the Chair of the Project Board you are the Senior Project Manager. You are also the Project Sponsor. You do not need to ask officers to do this, you are in a position to tell them to do so. It is my view that further delay in detailed communication is increasingly unwise. 
I hope this clarifies matters.

I have now had a reply form Cllr Hearn. Briefly, I think the minutes should have been published well before July, and apart from that she appears to agree with me that important design decisions are being taken without reference to the ultimate consumers of the changes.

Dear Mr Essex

Your enquiry about Liveable Neighbourhoods Project

Ref : LBH/8997919

Thank you for your enquiry.


I understand that your request for the minutes of the stakeholder meeting in April was received just as we were preparing for the Liveable Neighbourhood Conference and as a result this request was not actioned.  My apologies – please find attached the minutes as requested.


We understand your concerns regarding what appears to be silence on the project since the workshops in April.  We are in a period of the project where a lot of design exploration work is currently being undertaken but as yet there is not much that we can share as the designs are still developing and changing as we seek to ensure we maximise the opportunity of the funding to the benefit of multiple stakeholders.  However we have noted your, and others, request for more information on the scheme to be shared and are in the process of revamping the website to provide data from the workshops and some of our progress on the project over the last few months and to make the website in general more user friendly.  This will be completed in early September and we also plan to hold another stakeholder meeting in September once the holidays are over – we are just in the process of finding a suitable venue for the meeting.  


In terms of the change in the consultation dates this is as a result of feedback from the workshops and key stakeholders such as TfL inputting into the design process.  A series of potential feasibility options will be presented at the next gateway to TfL.  They will be reviewing the options on the basis of whether they meet the objectives of the funding, whether they are feasible in terms of budget and in terms of their wider responsibilities such as bus priority, cycling provision and road network management.  There will not be a single option presented to TfL at this feasibility stage.  The gateway is to confirm that the project is on track in terms of budget and aspiration not to approve a single option to be further developed.  We will be presenting a series of options and choices to the community following this gateway.


We will be in touch with you to invite you to the stakeholder forum and to alert you when the website has been updated with further information on the project.  My Support officer Jack is also trying to arrange a date for a council officer and I to meet with you to discuss the project further.  


I hope that you are satisfied with my response to your enquiry.  If you have any follow-up queries or need more information, please contact Member Enquiries in the first instance.


Best wishes,



Councillor Kirsten Hearn

Labour Councillor for Stroud Green Ward

Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability

07583 119 123




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