Origins and ‘Streets for People’
Cazenove Area Action Group (CAAG) is the residents’ association for Cazenove Ward in Hackney, London N16. It was formed in 2001 by residents in Kyverdale Road – hence its first abbreviation KAAG – but within the year had widened its reach to embrace the whole of Cazenove Ward. It immediately launched an environmental campaign to establish a better balance between residents and cars. 2003 brought success in the award of £2.4 million by Transport for London for what became known as ‘Windus Streets for People’. Traffic was controlled through a system of one-way roads, raised platforms and pinch points which sought to limit car speed. Trees were planted, the local art studio at Campbell Works in Belfast Road designed stone insets for the pedestrianised Windus Walk using images and words from local primary schools. Large boulders of various types of stone were used either as focal points or, in some cases, as bollards to stop cars cutting corners.
With a safer environment came street parties organised by CAAG. Road closures allowed marquees and stalls to be erected, games to be played and a communal get-together to take place, bringing diverse and often isolated communities together. None of this would have been possible but for the initiative of the founders of KAAG. We have all benefited.
The Conservation Area
Members of CAAG also campaigned for the establishment of a Conservation Area. Cazenove Ward covers land once owned by the lords of the manor, the Tyssen-Amherst (sometimes Amhurst) family. The late 19th-century development was strictly controlled by the family, streets planned, builders licensed, trees planted – mainly limes and London planes including the magnificent mature ‘plane-tree vault’ along Cazenove Road. Over the years the integrity of the Tyssen-Amherst scheme was compromised. Division of large houses into houses of multiple occupation, neglect, illegal alterations to the housing stock by property companies had degraded some areas and put others at risk.
In 2006 CAAG presented the Council with its own report on the area proposing the establishment of a Conservation Area. Four years of discussion with the Council which commissioned its own report – drawing partly on the CAAG document – brought the designation of the area in 2010. Tighter controls and enforcement have eliminated the worst breaches of planning law – though there is still some loss of distinctive detailing in glass and iron work. Developers still seek to flout the law.
Although the Ward is bounded by two Commons, Stoke Newington and Clapton, it has no open public space of its own – except, that is, for the small garden at the bottom end of Osbaldeston Rd’. This had been carefully planted at one time, but stood abandoned for many years. Local people got agreement from the housing association to look after and use it. It already had several fruit trees, but since taking it on local people, coordinated by SNUG, have carefully planted and tended it, and regularly prune the trees. Funding secured from the housing association was used to commission a local carpenter to build two benches. A neighbour built a book case, which facilitates a lively book-exchange.
The garden is extremely popular and represents common effort to improve our environment. But it nonetheless needs everyone to look after it, take their litter home and help with gardening and watering. If you are interested in helping contact SNUG on firstname.lastname@example.org”
Website and Email Group
You are reading this on the CAAG website. The most-used feature of the website is the Trades and Services listing where you will find recommendations of local traders and companies from residents who have been pleased with their work. The list is constantly updated from the emails requests for help sent on the CAAG system supplemented by those from the neighbouring Northwold residents’ group.
Our email group is an open forum for residents to share and discuss matters of interest. You can sign up here.
It is through this system principally that we keep in touch with events in the ward. It’s through the website and emails that you’ll hear of the work of The Boiler House on George Downing Estate, the Common Room project at St. Thomas’s Church, the work of the Stoke Newington Common Users’ Group. It’s through these systems that you can participate.
Welcome to CAAG. We hope you’ll join in.