BelSoc is part of the Confederation of Local Community Groups (“CLCG”) which has been formed to oppose the planning application by developer Landsec to build blocks of flats on the site occupied by the O2 Centre, its car park and other commercial units running down the rail line from Finchley Road to West Hampstead. The developer wants to build about 1,800 new homes with additional commercial development in and around a “Finchley Square.” CLCG has serious concerns about the design quality, the large proportion of single aspect homes (ie box-shaped dwellings), shadowing impacts on nearby properties, poorly designed public spaces, and green space deficiency.
CLCG’s written objections to the planning application emphasise the closely-packed buildings that are Soviet in concept. The new buildings would be much taller than the existing O2 Centre and would amount – in effect – to a line of inappropriate tower blocks. The contrast between the characterful low rise and largely Victorian and Edwardian streets of the surrounding area and the plans for towers rising over 100m is stark.
Camden Council has identified a need for around 950 homes on the site as part of its emerging site allocations strategy to meet national planning policy requirements. The much larger number of homes in the planning application would result in significant overdevelopment. Only 35% of the homes would be affordable housing provision. All the affordable homes would be grouped together which gives rise to concerns about social polarisation.
The rabbit hutch nature of the proposals may be discerned from the breakdown of housing types: 46% will be studio or one bedroom flats when Camden’s Strategic Housing Market Availability Study identifies an 8% need for that type of home. No four bedroom dwellings are proposed even though the Availability Study identifies a 16% need.
CLCG is calling on Camden not to permit the O2 Centre’s demolition. The shops, services, food and drink in the existing Centre provide a valuable and much-used local amenity. They contribute to a sense of community and their absence would drive local people further afield – for example, to Brent Cross. The effect would be a depleted town centre. New commercial activities in the developed space would compete with Finchley Road and cause economic decline there.
You can find out more by reading CLCG’s full objection at southampstead.info. The planning application is ref: 2022/0528/P.