A village feel a short way away from central London
Belsize Village is a historic conservation area of the Borough of Camden in the NW3 post code of north London.
This website is part of a community initiative of the Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA), led by Penrose Care, a home care provider, and Pivoine, a beauty salon. Originally started on October 4, 2018 as an unincorporated undertaking, on August 19, 2020 the BVBA incorporated into a Community Interest Company (CIC), the Belsize Village Estate CIC, in order to facilitate the BVBA’s community sponsorship of refugees project.
Our goal is to promote the well-being of Belsize Village by driving inclusive growth that benefits consumers, residents, workers and businesses in the community.
The three pillars upon which our community initiative is built are:
- Promoting a safe and clean community in conjunction with all members of our community.
- Promoting socially responsible business investment.
- Promoting social cohesion whilst celebrating individual beauty.
- Beautify the village to attract newcomers to our historic and serene neighbourhood.
- With added footfalls and business vibrance, work with businesses in Belsize Village to become Accredited Living Wage Employers with the Living Wage Foundation.
About the Belsize Village Business Association
The Belsize Village Business Association was established in October 2018 as a community service project of Belsize Village-based social care provider Penrose Care Ltd and Belsize Village beauty salon Pivoine Ltd to revitalise Belsize Village which had sustained continued economic decline over a number of years through to 2018. The overarching aim is to boost Belsize Village’s economic vibrancy sufficiently so that all local businesses are able to pay their workers the London Living Wage like Penrose Care, the pioneer of ethical home care in the UK and one of the first home care providers in the UK to become an Accredited Living Wage Employer. This is to provide a reachable goal of building a community that durably respects human dignity and strives to pursue the common good.
Predominately through the use of innovative marketing initiatives, the project led to a substantial increase in footfalls to Belsize Village and as of about October 2019, has been hailed as a success. The association boasts the active participation of most of the businesses in Belsize Village. Our success sadly came to a halt in March 2020 when the COVID-19 lockdown measures severely harmed the local economy. Positively, on July 4, 2020, the association launched the Belsize Village Streatery which permits alfresco dining on Belsize Village terrace square for local hospitality venues which on the 2nd weekend of operation (July 11, 12) boasted 100% occupancy throughout the days. The success of the Belsize Village Streatery led to a comprehensive revitalisation of Belsize Village and garnered Belsize Village’s first ministerial visit in modern history, eliminated environmental blights that mired Belsize Village for over 10 years, saved over 100 hospitality jobs, increased the number of Accredited Living Wage Employers in Belsize Village, created a new town centre in north London that did not exist prior to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020-21, and prevented any business losses in Belsize Village during the Coronavirus pandemic and in fact led to the addition of two new businesses.
The association itself has no membership fees and its legal entity is the Belsize Village Estate CIC. The association has two volunteer co-coordinators, Aya Khazaal and Robert Stephenson-Padron, who aim to direct community initiatives across the business community through consensus and voluntary participation.
About the volunteer co-coordinators of the Belsize Village Business Association
About the primary sponsoring organisations of the Belsize Village Business Association
Pivoine is a beauty salon in Belsize Village that prides itself in the highest levels of customer service, quality commitment, and sanitation. Pivoine is one of the top rated salons in London (2018) on Treatwell.
Penrose Care is the UK's pioneer of the ethical provision of home care. Penrose Care was the London Living Wage Champion for 2016 and 2018. Penrose Care was named the Most Outstanding Home Care Provider in the World in 2017 and 2019. In 2019, Penrose Care was rated Outstanding by England’s health and social care regulator, the CQC, an attribute of only 2% of home care providers in London. Mr. Padron was one of the early consultants to the creation of the Mayor of London’s Good Work Standard, launched in 2019, and Penrose Care was one of the first 16 private businesses in London to be accredited under this landmark standard for ethical organisations.
About the Belsize Village Streatery
On July 4, 2020, after months of enduring death and isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Belsize Village reopened vibrantly with a new alfresco dining experience as the Belsize Village Summer Streatery (“Belsize Village Streatery” outside of the summer). The Streatery offers local hospitality venues a total of an extra 44 seats from 8am-9:30pm, daily on the newly beautified Belsize Village terrace square (NW3 5AS), allowing them to offset seating lost due to social distancing rules and offering customers a new, European-esque dining experience. The Belsize Village Streatery aims to put Belsize Village on the map – not just keeping our local hospitality venues afloat in the near-term, but supporting economic vibrancy for the longer-term to enable local venues to pay their workers the real London Living Wage.
The hospitality venues participating in the Belsize Village Summer Streatery are: Calici (Italian), Charro de Rio (Brazilian), Hazara (Indian), Retsina (Greek), Roni’s (Bakery), Tahera (Indian) and TETA’s (Lebanese).
By the 2nd and 3rd weekends of operation, the Streatery was already at 100% occupancy numerous times and by the end of July 2020, the oldest hospitality venue in the village, Retsina, noted this was the most economically vibrant summer at least as far back as 2005 (and thus likely ever in the village’s history). As a result the entire village experienced a V-shaped economic recovery in the summer of 2020 in conjunction with various privately-initiated beautification programs. The wider economic boom caused by the Belsize Village Business Association has been described as an “economic explosion”. Lockdown 3 of the Coronavirus pandemic caused significant economic damage to the local economy but following the April 12, 2021 opening of the Belsize Village Streatery 2021, Belsize Village has exited Lockdown 3 experiencing a sharp economic recovery.
The Belsize Village Streatery was organised and is managed by the Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA). Public CIL funding for the event was the result of official sponsorship of Camden Council Belsize ward councillor Steve Adams (Conservative), support from Belsize ward colleagues Luisa Porritt and Tom Simon (Liberal Democrat); along with support from Hampstead Town thanks to Cllr Oliver Cooper (Conservative) and Frognal and Fitzjohns thanks to Cllr Gio Spinella (Conservative). We have also received support from Camden Council cabinet members Cllr Danny Beales (Labour) and Cllr Adam Harrison (Labour). Although formally organised and operated by the Belsize Village Business Association, the project itself took off from resident demand. The visionary behind the project was local retired resident Phil Peters and the project layout designs were by a retired local architect who has asked for “no publicity”. As of April 23, 2021, there have been nine consultations related to the Streatery if public and private consultations are included, all showing strong support from the local community.
The launch of the event coincided with three important revitalisation projects of Belsize Village as part of the business association’s “Clean Belsize Village” initiative: 1) the clearing of a historic rubbish mound on Belsize Terrace square which had blighted the community for 10+ years, 2) the beautification of the square with planters (intended as counter-terrorism barriers), and 3) an extremely successful #binthebutt program which has helped clean up Belsize Village. On August 20, 2020, the BVBA concluded a 24 hour Instagram poll asking if people want our beautification of Belsize Village Terrace square to remain permanent. 159 users voted yes and 1 user voted no.
The Belsize Village Streatery was the first communal alfesco dining event on a public space in London after Lockdown 1 of the Coronavirus pandemic. The success of the Belsize Village Streatery led to a comprehensive revitalisation of Belsize Village and garnered Belsize Village’s first ministerial visit in modern history as reported in the Ham & High and Camden New Journal, eliminated environmental blights that mired Belsize Village for over 10 years, saved over 100 hospitality jobs, increased the number of Accredited Living Wage Employers in Belsize Village, created a new town centre in north London that did not exist prior to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020-21, and prevented any business losses in Belsize Village during the Coronavirus pandemic and in fact led to the addition of two new businesses.
Key Belsize Village Streatery volunteers in addition to the two event managers
Richard Lagani is the project foreman (volunteer) of the Belsize Village Streatery and assist with any rapid response project necessary for carrying out the event and also serves as its hospitality consultant pro-bono.
Most recently Mr. Lagani sat on the board of three companies including Imagine Software. Prior to that Mr. Lagani was Global Executive Vice President in charge of Insurance, Employee Benefits and Banking Products at MMRGlobal, Inc. He spent more than 14 years with AIG, in various positions including Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AIG Product Development.
Mr. Lagani served as a member of a special committee formed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (of the United States) to develop better ways for the intelligence community to communicate with financial institutions.
Mr. Lagani holds BA in History and German from New York University and a JD from Vanderbilt University School of Law.
Mr. Lagani is also an expert in spirits and wine holding a diploma from WSET. He has now returned to his first passion hospitality and consults with restaurants on service and wine selection. He holds an enhanced DBS certificate with both child and adult workforce designations. Mr. Lagani has been a local resident since 2012.
As of April 2021, Mrs. Lyons manages 14 local resident gardening volunteers.
Testimonials about the Belsize Village Streatery
Here are quotes from the two event managers:
“It was heartwarming to see Belsize Village reopen vibrantly and safely after these months of isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Belsize Village Summer Streatery opened on Saturday July 4th to many joyous visitors. Many of the restaurant venues were sold out at numerous seatings over the weekend in-spite of poor weather. On our 2nd weekend of the Belsize Village Summer Streatery operating, July 11, 12, the buzz around the Streatery led to us being at 100% occupancy multiple times throughout the weekend! Camden Cllr Oliver Cooper said the Streatery would put Belsize Village on the map and we are taking our first steps to making this view a reality! Aya Khazaal and my efforts to revitalise Belsize Village started in 2018 had a very simple long-term goal: to transform Belsize Village into a Living Wage zone. In light of the success of our efforts to beautify and regenerate Belsize Village, we can firmly say that the products of respecting human dignity and promoting the common good are love, life and beauty.” – Robert Stephenson-Padron (Penrose Care), co-coordinator, Belsize Village Business Association, July 29, 2020
“From the first day I set foot into Belsize Village, I fell in love with its beauty and charm, and couldn’t believe it would be a home for me and my business. I was privileged to meet Robert Stephenson Padron, who had the same love and vision for the community as I did. We both decided to form the Belsize Village Association in order to serve the community, revitalise the neighbourhood and improve the economic performance of the local businesses. It was heart breaking to witness the Village closed during the pandemic, and that’s when I began to worry. We as businesses started to lose hope. The Summer Streatery however brought the Village back to life, performing even better than before the pandemic. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity and the support from Camden Council and the local community to make this project happen. As co-cordinator of the project, I am very proud to see what we have achieved for the community, and we will do everything it takes to make sure that all the businesses receive the support that they need to see these tough times through.” – Aya Khazaal (Pivoine), co-coordinator, Belsize Village Business Association, July 29, 2020
Here are quotes from others:
“As someone who has lived in Belsize Village for more than 57 years, I have to say that the village is looking the cleanest it has ever… Prior to this amazing transformation the square was so dirty that I wouldn’t take my grandchildren there. Now it is a delight and one that last year was a saviour for many people’s mental health and has given Belsize Village a throbbing community heart that previously was missing.” – Patricia Pearce, local resident, April 15, 2021
“The views of the people who live in the Belsize Village area have been very clearly expressed in response to our informal survey. The overwhelming majority, knowing what the Streatery was like last year, want it back again. Some of those who support it mentioned things that could be done better but mainly the support was enthusiastic and unqualified.” – Cllr Tom Simon (Belsize), April 9, 2021
“Belsize Village has had a face lift and it looks great. It hasn’t looked this good since I arrived in the Summer of ’88.” – Jean Seal, local resident, April 4, 2021
“The Belsize Terrace has been our main outdoor area during this current lockdown, and there is a real village vibe as I have gotten to know lots of people. I have lived in the Belsize ward for most of my adult life and had never experienced this before.” – Diana von R, local resident and founder of Hampstead Mums, March 28, 2021
“[I]n the last 10 years [Belsize Village] had lost the old vibe and looked pretty sad with an almost constant pile of rubbish left every day in the top of the village square. Last year a group of hard working and wonderful people from the village community decided to do something about improving the sad, grotty-looking, square. These are courageous people. Amid a pandemic they cleaned and made our once grotty square beautiful and turned it in to a space for children to play or a meeting place for the community to hang out and interact with each other over a coffee. There’s plenty of seating and space.” – Louise Lawson, local resident of nearly 40 years, March 26, 2021
“Last summer, with funding from local councillors and incredible resident volunteer power, the BVBA created a beautiful space for the whole community. This culminated in the fantastically successful streatery, which helped save several businesses and over 100 local jobs… Historically Belsize Village has been marred by multiple closed shops, but through the collective efforts of the BVBA, and the community, Belsize Village will soon celebrate having no vacancies for the first time in recent memory.” – Belsize Village Business Association cosigned by 25 local businesses, March 18, 2021
“The village never really had a sense of community and over the years many businesses have opened in the area and shut a short time later due to lack of footfall… That was until Bob and Aya created the Streatery. I have met more neighbours in the last 12 months than in the preceding 35 years I have been a resident here.” – Michael McHale, local resident, March 15, 2021
“The ongoing social benefit of the [Belsize Village] Streatery is fantastic and has created in Belsize Village a center that frankly I don’t think really existed before.” – Cllr Steve Adams (Belsize), March 7, 2021
“The [Belsize Village] [S]treatery saved hospitality and much needed jobs in Belsize Village and that is a fact.” – Leon Mina, owner, Retsina (in Belsize Village since 2005), January 30, 2021
“The Belsize Village Summer Streatery is the best thing that’s ever happened to the village.” – Liam Teeling, music producer and Belsize resident for 30 years, July 12, 2020
“Our local businesses have faced significant impacts from the pandemic. As the lockdown continues to ease, we are focussed on supporting our hospitality businesses to resume trading so they they can survive and hopefully thrive. The absolute last thing residents will want to see is empty high streets of closed-up cafes and restaurants. The success of the Belsize Village ‘Streatery’ has shown us that measures such as street dining can greatly assist businesses through this initial phase of reopening, whilst enabling social distancing of customers. These spaces will be vital for many businesses to survive in the coming weeks and months. We must do all we can to support responsible businesses to survive this difficult period. We have moved quickly to respond to demand here, ensuring that all the relevant permissions and licenses were in place, enabling the businesses to operate safely and legally, whilst mitigating any possible impacts for both local residents and businesses. We expect impacts to be monitored and businesses to continue to manage these areas carefully and engage with locals residents to ensure they are a success.” – Cllr Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities and an Inclusive Economy, Camden Council, July 13, 2020
“When Bob Stephenson-Padron approached Retsina London about taking part in a Belsize Village Streatery, we jumped at the chance. Retsina London has been located in Belsize Village, having moved from a small established taverna in Regents Park, for the past 16 years. Over the years we have established a strong social connection with the local community as a family-friendly hub for award-winning food, endorsed by Gordon Ramsay, social gatherings and community meetings. As Greeks we love to be involved in everything and this has been a wonderful opportunity for the local businesses to unite. The Belsize Village Business Association, headed by volunteer co-coordinators Bob Stephenson-Padron and Aya Khazaal, have worked tirelessly to coordinate this ‘happening, often working into the early hours. They have had a real passion to get this lovely area ‘up and running’ again after lockdown and to generally clean up the area to make it a safe and pleasant place for all to enjoy. It is additional hard work for the staff of Retsina London but we feel it worth the extra effort to pull together and support a positive and successful exciting eclectic cultural collaboration of eateries at a really difficult time for business. We feel we can lead the way and show other areas how a collaboration of this kind can bring local communities and businesses together.” – Nancy Mina, Marketing Manager, Retsina London, July 13, 2020
“The Streatery has brought incredible financial benefit to the Belsize Village business community. It is an opportunity we all can embrace with passion, professionalism and sense of togetherness. In order to ensure that the Streatery becomes a permanent seasonal seating area, we must satisfy our customers by ensuring they return to our restaurants and are happy with the service. We all, residents and businesses alike, will benefit from this space by highlighting and consolidating our sense of community. We hope to continue to do this thanks to the Streatery organisers and staff. I can never thank the organisers enough for their support and for creating such an amazing place for our clients to enjoy in the heart of their home.” – Diego Pistellato, owner, Calici, July 13, 2020
“When local residents come up with a brilliant idea, enthusiastically present it and compile a pressing case it is essential that local councillors support initiatives where they can. The streatery struck me as nothing but a good thing at a time when we all needed our spirits lifting. The team that have brought this to life deserve huge credit as do all the council officers who have helped so much. This was the very definition of pushing at an open door. Let’s hope this particular silver lining to a very dark cloud adds to our community for a good while.” – Steve Adams, Belsize ward councillor, Camden Council, July 14, 2020
“I support this local initiative with all my prayers, as it promotes and supports the Common Good. May God bless this undertaking.” – Fr Paul Diaper. Assistant Priest, St Thomas More Catholic Church, 14 July 2020
“The Belsize Village Summer Streatery was a great initiative and executed well with the correct PPE and social distancing rules in place. The Streatery has allowed us all to operate safely and accommodate everyone.
It has been a great asset to our community and re-vitalised the village post the damage of the pandemic. I hope we can do this every summer as it’s been heart warming to see the community support the small businesses in Belsize Village. “ – Lauren Daou, manager, TETA’s, July 14, 2020
“During such uncertain times, it’s wonderful to see Belsize Streetary come to being. Banding together to support local businesses whilst observing health guidelines to keep everyone safe, is what community is all about and exactly what we need.” – Beatrix Ong MBE, fashion designer and local resident, July 15, 2020
“Congratulations on this amazing initiative and hope that it becomes an annual feature of village life.” – Michael and Daniella Adam, Belsize Village residents, July 15, 2020
“I’m writing in support of the Streatery @ Belsize Terrace. It has made our village come to life and allows us to celebrate our community (so important in the midst of the pandemic). At this point, my family is not comfortable eating inside a restaurant so we are very thankful that we have the option to support our local businesses while remaining safe. Besides enjoying eating at the Streatery, my husband and I now take our pup on nightly walks down to the village just to be a part of the amazing atmosphere!” – Brianna Yelle, local resident, July 17, 2020
“The Belsize Village Business Association with its Streatery initiative has caused more than a V-shaped economic recovery, this is an economic explosion!” – Cathryn, receptionist, Calici Restaurant, July 17, 2020
“Having lived in Belsize Village for two decades, I’ve never seen our community in such rude health. It’s not just Bob [Stephenson-Padron’s] vision and his team’s commitment that’s so impressive and heartwarming – but it’s also in the sheer timing of it, bringing people to this blessed place at a time of need for both people and local businesses.” – Jonny Gould, podcaster and former Belsize Village resident, July 20, 2020
“The Streatery is an excellent way to help the Belsize Village restaurants and cafés survive over the coming months. Alfresco dining in the village could prove vital to the very existence of these eateries into the future. The Belsize Village square is extremely well suited for this. And now with the new planters and flowers the revitalised square is especially attractive. No doubt many local residents will enjoy taking coffee and dining outside safely with such varied menu selections.” – David S. Percy (known as the pre-eminent local historian), Belsize Village Association, July 20, 2020
“You [Bob Stephenson-Padron] and the Belsize Village community have done an outstanding job. Absolutely blown away by the transformation in and around the square. I had cycled and walked through Belsize Village on my way back from work in the City and it was always a terribly neglected and rather rundown area. What you have all done is quite spectacular to be honest, the residents and the local shop and restaurant owners must be so happy with the results. It is now somewhere I will happily travel to have an outdoor Greek, Indian, Brazilian meal, in a clean and secure environment.” – Meezan Rahman, local cyclist, July 20, 2020
“Bob [Stephenson-Padron], Aya [Khazaal] and team have really brought Belsize Village to life. I am a weekday regular at Belsize Village and have never seen it as busy as it is now. The plants look fantastic and it’s been a much needed injection for the area.” – Diana Von R, Hampstead Mums Founder, July 20, 2020
“The Streatery is an incredible initiative that gives the local catering and hospitality industries a much needed shot in the arm and proves how the economic and social recovery from the Covid pandemic can be community-led. Businesses work with residents to come out of the social lockdown and re-ignite our sense of society and locality.” – Gio Spinella, Frognal and Fitzjohns ward councilor, Camden Council, July 21, 2020
“We live on the corner of the Belsize Terrace square/Belsize Lane and are very much in favour of continuing the Streatery beyond 31st July. The Streatery has been a great way to support local restaurants in Belsize Park. It’s added to the vibrancy of the Belsize Terrace Square and helped to bring people back together after the long lockdown. – Lynn and Gene Frieda, Belsize Village residents, July 21, 2020
“I know I’m not alone when I say how proud I am to be a resident of this wonderful community. I’ve lived in the village for over 10 years and I’ve never see it so vibrant, clean and full of positivity and spirit. It’s incredibly heart warming to see all the businesses booming and to share this with an influx of new visitors to the neighbourhood. Please let this be a permanent fixture. Ps. I’d be excited to see what a winter version of this will look like! Thank you Belsize Village!” – Abigail Volks, July 26, 2020
Testimonials about the Belsize Village Business Association
“The Belsize Village Instagram, an initiative of the Belsize Village Business Association, has helped everyone to connect not just with the local businesses but with the people and personalities behind them. It has helped to put the village back on the map and has created a strong identity for the village as a hub of thriving independents.” – Sophie Chan (@sophieyinchan), former manager, Oliver’s Village Cafe, November 20, 2019
“The Belsize Village Business Association’s social media platforms have helped all the businesses in the village. Us in particular being a new restaurant – they have helped build awareness, drive traffic to the restaurant, cultivating leads and sales; helping us launch our new brunch menu which was a great success! The platforms – which are free to local businesses – have helped us build genuine relationships with our customers and community. We are very grateful for the Belsize Village Business Association which has helped us greatly!” – Lauren Daou, Manager, Teta’s Lebanese Kitchen & Bar, November 20, 2019
“As an American expat living in London, I value the sense of community, belonging and smalltown friendliness that the Belsize Village Instagram has created and nurtured. It truly makes me feel at home in London!” – Devon Turner (@dev_rosee), Arts Education and Communications Freelancer, November 20, 2019
“We’ve lived in Belsize Park for six years. When we moved in, the village was a hub of activity and we spent a lot of time in the restaurants and bars. After a while, spaces started to empty and stayed like that for a long time. Although we always tried to join in with local goings on, it was sometimes easy to miss things as they were only shared by word of mouth. With the introduction of the Belsize Village Instagram account, we are now more aware of what’s going on and feel so much more involved in the local community. Seeing the village come back to life with some fabulous independent businesses has been so great to witness too.” – Katie & Ben Heath, local residents/Lifestyle Bloggers, November 20, 2019