Sir Derek Jacobi: ‘I’m disappointed £12m South Hampstead Synagogue plans were approved’

PUBLISHED: 10:47 10 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:47 10 December 2014

Artists impression for the new South Hampstead Synagogue

Artists impression for the new South Hampstead Synagogue


Renowned actor Sir Derek Jacobi has spoken of his disappointment after planning permission was granted for a controversial £12million synagogue expansion likened to a “giant box burrowed into the hillside”.

Sir Derek Jacobi arriving at the premiere of 'Morris, A Life With Bells On', at The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday, 24th September 2009. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA WireSir Derek Jacobi arriving at the premiere of 'Morris, A Life With Bells On', at The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday, 24th September 2009. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire

Camden councillors granted planning permission to demolish the existing South Hampstead Synagogue in Eton Villas and replace it with a new place of worship two-and-a-half times its size, at Camden Town Hall last Thursday.

Hundreds drew battle lines in the row over plans to create a four-storey synagogue with extended basement to provide extra Sunday school classrooms and more room for community celebrations.

Those opposed included Sir Derek, while Lord Levy, close friend of former prime minister Tony Blair, was among the 669 people who wrote to Camden Council in support of the project.

Sir Derek told the Ham&High: “Essentially, planning permission has been granted for a private social club with a synagogue attached. The area of worship, or ‘church’ part, is no bigger than the current size.

“I have always valued Camden’s ongoing commitment to equality, inclusivity, tolerance and progress, but I find it difficult to understand why Camden have approved the application for this non-inclusive multiplex, better suited to a city centre.”

Rabbi Shlomo Levin, senior rabbi at South Hampstead Synagogue, said he hopes to build bridges in a community left divided over the plans.

He said: “I hope it is the right decision for us and for Camden.

“I understand the opposition of the neighbours and certainly we need to build bridges with them and reconnect with them as best we can going forward.”

Rabbi Levin told the planning committee he had been “surprised and disappointed” by the 449 objections to the proposals. Among chief concerns were the “fortress-like” designs and the creation of a “traffic and car parking nightmare”.

Resident Martin Robson, who spoke in objection to the proposals on Thursday, compared the designs to “a giant box burrowed deep into the hillside”.

It is thought the project, designed by architects Allies and Morrison, will take two years to complete and will start towards the end of next year.

Rabbi Levin said: “We are really bursting at the gills, so it will give us the opportunity to provide the same kind of activities as we always have done, but with a much greater sense of space.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:49

A rainy Sunday failed to put any snouts out of joint as a band of determined Schnauzer-owners and their four-legged friends took to the Heath last weekend.

Yesterday, 17:02

Alan’s Records in East Finchley opened its doors in 1994 and now features in a guide to the top 80 record emporia around the globe.

Yesterday, 16:56

Mitzvah Day, the UK’s biggest faith-based day of social action, was launched in Parliament last week to a audience of MPs and peers.

Yesterday, 15:19

Three years after a controversial merger saw Torriano Primary School formed, teachers and governors are celebrating a top-of-the-class Ofsted rating that Camden Council’s education chief said “vindicated” the decision to amalgamate the schools.

Yesterday, 14:12

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has submitted its planning application to Westminster City Council to redevelop the historic Compton and Edrich stands at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Yesterday, 13:00

Beauty brand GOSH donated £15,000 of cosmetics and beauty products to Marie Curie Hospice’s in Hampstead last week.

Tue, 17:08

Barnet Council’s finances came under scrutiny last week as the fallout continued from the fraud that saw a Capita employee swindle £2m from council coffers.

Tue, 16:06

Haringey is “prostituting” Finsbury Park out for Wireless Festival and should scrap the event, neighbours argued at a licensing sub-committee meeting last night.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now