The origins of Barnes Community Association and the Environment Group are closely linked, since the BCA’s concerns at its inception were mostly environmental. Simon Fraser, who was a planner himself, took a great interest in the founding of the BCA and became the first chairman and a leading light of the Environment Group.
The Group basically concerns itself with the environment of the community in Barnes, especially with conservation area buildings; it has taken a lead in trying to get more streets under conservation. The uniformity of the buildings in Barnes and also the low density of housing that we enjoy, with relatively large gardens and wonderful open spaces, are among the most enviable features of the area and need constant protection.
The Group transcends political and individual differences to focus on issues which concern the majority rather than narrow individual interests. People are welcome to bring their specific problems to the Environment Group, but it can only offer advice on such matters rather than engaging in any form of active support. Similarly it does not take a view on individual planning matters such as the merits or otherwise of developing basements etc; on issues such as this the Group’s aim is to achieve a common sense approach giving due consideration to the immediately locality in each case.
Over the years various groups have grown from the Environment Group to deal with specific issues. Friends of Barnes Common developed out of concerns about the well being of the Common and the Green to become an autonomous group which maintains strong links with the Environment Group and the BCA.
In 1988 the Department of Transport proposed a four-lane ‘Relief South Circular’ road to run across Barnes Common to cut out a number of bottlenecks around west London, with a 20-acre three-way interchange on Barn Elms playing fields and a tunnel under the Lowther and Castelnau estates. Opponents of the scheme formed the Barnes and Mortlake Traffic Action Group (BAMTAG), and campaigned not only to stop the proposal but also to encourage a wider approach to traffic problems including improving public transport and providing bus lanes. (You can read more about this in the November 2010 issue of Prospect.)
Although Barnes is no longer threatened by major road development, the Environment Group keeps a watchful eye on any issues which may have an impact on the area – see the News page for specific examples.
The Environment Group takes an interest in the towpath and riverside areas of Barnes, working with the West London River Group. The Leg ’o Mutton Management Committee is an offshoot of the Environment Group involved in monitoring and protecting the Reservoir as a local nature reserve.
BCA members are welcome to attend the Environment Groups monthly meetings at Rose House, details of which are posted in the Diary section of this website.