KOVE and Webheath
- a partnership in the community
The heart of KOVE’s activities has always been Kilburn. Early meetings were held at Kingsgate Community Centre (closed since 2020) and Kingsgate Resource (now Day) Centre on Webheath estate.
Built in the late 1960s to replace slum housing, the estate was officially opened in May 1968. It comprises 228 properties in 11 blocks, including a sheltered housing block. Over time the buildings and grounds fell into disrepair and by 2016 the need for community action was recognised. KOVE, as part of this movement, supported the creation of a Webheath Forum in February 2017, where council officers from estate management, grounds maintenance and environmental services met with residents.
KOVE's work on Webheath started from KOVEwatchers, a training programme begun in 2016. Webheath resident Lynda Stuart turned a personal project of making improvements to parts of the estate into an ongoing volunteer programme. Starting with pruning overhanging trees and clearing shrubberies of litter when ground maintenance was refused, Lynda got Camden to repair brickwork and clear up abandoned builders' materials, and began networking assertively with officers, contractors and politicians.
Tenants began to recover trust and confidence; with Camden's encouragement and KOVE's support the Webheath Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) was relaunched in July 2017 with a new and diverse committee. The estate was readmitted to the Hampstead District Committee and the flow of council small grants restored. (Two KOVE steering group members, Lynda and Phyllis Young, were nominated by KOVE for Camden Volunteer Awards for raising housing issues and highlighting local concerns. They received the awards in 2017.) In May 2018 Webheath’s 50th anniversary was celebrated with an estate party.
Webheath on film
KOVE made a film about the estate renovation, which included a walkabout with Councillor Alison Kelly (then the borough's Older People’s Champion) prior to a meeting of tenants and councillors in February 2017. View the film at: https://koveweb.wordpress.com/webheath
(A short version was screened as part of a social action presentation at the 2017 Age UK conference in Leeds. This led to KOVE’s inclusion in the launch of the Age Friendly Cities initiative in Bristol in 2018.)
You can watch the film about Webheath’s 50th anniversary party here: https://koveweb.wordpress.com/webheath
Public art - street art
Webheath also boasts several large murals, created by Global Street Art between 2018-19, and in September 2020 a dozen international artists held a weekend festival on the estate. Guided walks showcasing the murals have been held – and more are planned for when life opens up again, post-lockdown.
Global art on Webheath (left, Peter Lush; right, Lynda Stuart)
Likewise, the opening of the community garden has been delayed by Covid. The garden features a bench donated by long-time KOVE member, Pran Handa. It bears a plaque dedicated to his memory and stands as a testament to the partnership between KOVE and Webheath.
In summary, the estate has been transformed over the last few years, becoming a much nicer place to live and visit, while the work to improve the built environment is ongoing.
Left to right: Installation of bench; Pruning the shrubbery; Brickie at work (Lynda Stuart)