Search

View from the Chamber: Why hasn’t NW3 been given its money?

PUBLISHED: 12:30 20 September 2018

Archant

Two hundred years ago, while lodging locally, John Constable completed a series of paintings memorialised Hampstead as a sleepy village, then perched past the outskirts of London: the very model of idyllic country living.

Today it’s a different sight that dominates the vistas: that of cranes and construction sites. Whether busy streets like Fitzjohns Avenue or small residential roads like New End, the Royal Free Pears Building or the coming 100 Avenue Road, the rise of cranes across Hampstead has been unmistakable.

While these building sites can mean big money for developers, they can also mean big money for Camden – and that makes up a large proportion of the funding for the council’s spending plans.

Developers pay money to the council through two inter-related mechanisms: Community Infrastructure Levy (or “CIL”), and section 106 payments. This can amount to serious money, with seven developments each earning Camden over £1million just in CIL funding since 2015.

The levy is meant to defray the downsides of development and ease pressure on public services locally. Although some is ringfenced locally, the vast majority of this money is spent at the discretion of Camden’s Labour administration: making it a subject ripe for additional scrutiny from Camden’s Conservative opposition.

Earlier this month, I asked the cabinet member responsible for CIL what was being done to ensure this money was spent equitably across the borough – especially in Hampstead and Highgate.

To my astonishment, he replied that capital investment wouldn’t be spent in Hampstead, because development hadn’t taken place there.

The Labour councillors are trying to pull the wool over residents’ eyes – and they’re fooling no one when they say there are no development pressures in the north of the borough!

Indeed, so much development has taken place in Hampstead that over half of all CIL receipts in the whole borough come from NW3. And those seven developments I mentioned earlier that each raised over £1m in CIL? All seven have been in Hampstead or Highgate.

Large developments in Hampstead and Highgate are charged over three times the levy rate they would be in the south of the borough. It’s unfair to treat the north as a cash cow – additional money should be spent, as much as possible, in the areas where that building work happens. So is it?

Last year, Camden spent £27m of money from CIL and similar payments through section 106 agreements. But while more than half of CIL revenue was raised in NW3, just £1m – 5 per cent! – was spent there according to the most recent annual report.

That means Labour’s approach to CIL makes it a £13m a year tax on Hampstead.

Needless to say, that’s a huge amount of money. It could restore weekly bin collections for all Camden residents 15 times over. Under the Met’s match-funding scheme, it could fund 400 extra police officers. But instead, it’s taken out of the communities over-burdened with development and spent elsewhere instead.

This is not acceptable and amounts to a complete reversal of the rationale for CIL: that funding is provided for areas where development takes place.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

45 minutes ago

Camden’s youngsters were in the spotlight at the Shaw Theatre for an evening celebrating the borough’s talent.

Yesterday, 15:35

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

Yesterday, 15:00

Brexit uncertainty is one reason for a slowdown in Camden house prices, said a leading estate agent after new data showed that property values in the borough fell 0.8 per cent in August and 2.1pc in the last 12 months.

Yesterday, 14:05

Tickets for a public meeting into the future of the Phoenix Cinema have sold out within days of it being announced.

Yesterday, 13:57

Mitzvah Day volunteers from Hampstead were among those taking part in Sewa Day – a Hindu day of community action – in Kingsbury, Brent this weekend.

Yesterday, 10:29

As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Haringey Police have been engaging with the community to raise awareness of the importance of reporting abuse and discrimination.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

PROMOTED CONTENT

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

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now