Official plans to build 1800-home ‘new neighbourhood' at 02 Centre site are revealed

Mountain of planning documents are lodged with the Town Hall

Wednesday, 16th February — By Tom Foot

02

The first block that will be built if the planning application is approved 

DETAILS of a fifteen-year project to redevelop the Finchley Road 02 Centre and surrounding land have been revealed today (Wednesday) after hundreds of pages of planning documents were made public on the council’s website. 

Land Securities’ 1800-home application for the site includes the shopping centre, Sainsbury’s car park, Homebase and the car show rooms in Blackburn Road. 

An original deadline for comments of March 9 has been moved until after the May council elections. 

The documents reveal details of phases of work that would see Homebase, which is due to close this year, demolished first along with half the Sainsbury car park. 

The tallest building will be 15 storeys.

In the first phase of construction, 608 homes would be built of which, the developer said, 188 would be “affordable” homes, “representing 35 per cent by floorspace”.

The affordable homes would be split 60/40 between “low cost rent” and “intermediate rent”.

Housing campaigners argue intermediate rent – where homes are let up to 70 per cent of market rents in the area – is not affordable option for most people on low or uncertain incomes.  

The developer said the affordable housing would be “distributed across the site to provide a mixed and balanced community”.

Demolition and construction of the blocks is expected to take 15 years, according to the planning statement from Gerald Eve on behalf of the developer.

It says the scheme will “create a place that integrates and connects the communities of Finchley Road and West Hampstead” with “a new neighbourhood that reflects Camden’s unique culture and provides something for everyone”.

Images reveal details of the building’s design that the application said had been inspired by red brick buildings in surrounding conservation area and St John’s Court, the housing block of homes above Finchley Road Waitrose.

The application says the 02 Centre has become “inefficient” as a shopping centre and “has seen the failure of a number of tenants in recent years, leaving a considerable number of voids”, adding: “Retailers such as Habitat have moved out of the O2 Centre and Waterstones have indicated that the size of their existing unit is too large.”

There are 464 jobs at risk if the entire site is demolished. But at least 548 will be available in replacement retail units when the new scheme is complete, the application said.

The application comes after 18 months of heated debate about speculation about the site and promises to be a major bone of contention for neighbourhood groups going into the local elections.

Many residents feel that West Hampstead has been over-developed with too many new private housing blocks that are damaging the conservation area.

The number of 1800 homes proposed – for perspective, the Alexandra and Ainsworth “Rowley Way” estate in South Hampstead has 520 homes – is justified by the developer because of the land is designated as a “growth area”.

The application lists recent developments at Liddell Road, 156 West End Lane, West Hampstead Square and 100 Avenue Road in Swiss Cottage, arguing these schemes have “evolved the character of the area in general and increased overall density”.

It said the residents from all over Hampstead, West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage would benefit from “a large open green space” and landscaped areas and play spaces including a sports pitch.

There will be cycle lanes and a new bus stop while the project will “remove unattractive car parking” while making pledges to off set the carbon emission from the scheme. 

The application says the developer commits to commissioning a feasibility study into creating disability access to West Hampstead and Finchley Road tube stations, a long held ambition of the group West Hampstead Amenity Transport (WHAT).

The developer would be liable for a £43.5 million payment to Camden Council as part of the Community Infrastructure Levy. 

To view the documents visit http://camdocs.camden.gov.uk/HPRMWebDrawer/PlanRec?q=recContainer:%222022/0528/P%22

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