Search

Relaxing planning rules so shops can become homes could kill off Hampstead High Street

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:56 07 February 2013

Hampstead High Street

Hampstead High Street

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Government proposals to allow shops to be converted into expensive housing could spell the death of Hampstead High Street, Camden’s finance chief has warned.

The plans to relax planning laws would trigger a “bonanza” of property development in the village as shop landlords seek to cash in on the lucrative house prices in the area, claims Cllr Theo Blackwell.

Conservation and business groups have been mustering to protect the village, applying for powers under the Localism Act to control development in the area, including shaping the high street. But if changes to permitted development rights are given the green light, property owners will be able to convert offices into homes without the consent of Camden Council or the new resident-led neighbourhood forums.

“It could potentially spell the end of the high street,” said Cllr Blackwell, who wrote to business leaders in Hampstead on Tuesday to inform them of the threat. “We will obviously support them (business groups) as this is a major shift in planning laws.

“It’s for a three-year period so there will be an absolute bonanza for property investors in Shanghai who are already buying up a lot of properties on the very stable property market.

“They are just sitting on a gold mine. “This (changing offices to residential use) will mean fewer and fewer jobs because of fewer shops in the area.”

Town hall officials have warned that the council will be powerless to guard against developments which could infringe on people’s privacy, ignore basic residential standards and create parking problems, according to papers seen by the Ham&High.

Andrew Lavery, of the NW3 Hampstead Business Association, said: “We would not be pleased if there was any radical change to the nature of the retail business in Hampstead without a detailed, full and proper consultation with all the interested parties.

“We would like to see greater improvement of the environment in the village, including making it more attractive to shoppers. But Hampstead is a very vibrant and profitable shopping area and we are not deteriorating by any means. Empty shop units only stay empty for a short while.”

The council can apply to the government for exemptions for specific areas. But these will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances and officials do not believe they will be able to make a convincing case for Hampstead should the plans be approved.

The government claims the plans will boost the economy by cutting red tape. The council is calling on people to write to Cllr Valerie Leach, cabinet member for growth, who is compiling a dossier of evidence to submit to the government.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Parents are concerned their toddlers’ dirty nappies will be abandoned by Camden Council once they cut services, following chaos when they tried to register for a free weekly collection.

17:13

A British Transport Police officer was today fired for using “excessive and unnecessary force” on a member of public during an arrest at St Pancras station.

16:55

Hampstead couple Haleh Babavand and her husband Ash Parsa spoke to the Ham and High about their experience of home schooling.

Runners preparing for the YMCA North London’s Crouch End 10km event on Sunday May 21 can now join weekly training sessions every Tuesday evening up until race week.

12:57

A team of Hampstead schoolgirls have beaten 8,000 rivals to reach the final of a competition to find the best code breakers of the future.

The three boroughs, along with three other local authorities, each secured a share of £1.7 million from the government to support more residents affected by homelessness.

Yesterday, 13:45

On April 1 the resounding sounds of a “quiet drink” will echo around Hampstead as a group of rugby players return to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their club.

Yesterday, 13:44

Students at St Anthony’s School for Girls embraced new technology by building robots and rockets as part of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) week.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

The Ham&High has teamed up with Weber® to celebrate the launch of its innovative Genesis® II collection at Weber® World at Sunshine Garden Centre in London.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now