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Shock as Camden Council reveals West Hampstead tower block plans

The first sketches of the latest Liddell Road development plans The first sketches of the latest Liddell Road development plans

Friday, July 11, 2014
12:52 PM

Camden Council has risked the fury of residents in West Hampstead after revealing controversial new plans that would see what may be the area’s tallest building constructed.

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The proposals – which have been described by leading community figures as “shocking” and “bizarre” – would see a 14-storey housing block built as part of the redevelopment of the Liddell Road Industrial Estate.

The estate, home to 24 businesses, will be bulldozed and replaced with housing, increased employment space and a primary school building.

However, the new plans are likely to ignite anger in West Hampstead following the added revelations that no affordable housing will be included in the scheme and a £3million “surplus” is set to be invested elsewhere in Camden.

It has led to accusations that the council is ignoring its own planning policies and comes as West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum finalises its own planning guidelines for the area, which have been agreed by the surrounding community.

James Earl, chair of the forum, said: “I was shocked when I saw the new plans – especially to see this tower sticking out like a sore thumb and to discover there would be no affordable housing.

“Affordable housing and the height of buildings are the two most talked-about issues for people in West Hampstead.

“To see the council go against two of their own planning policies like this is quite bizarre.

“The proposals are clearly at odds with what we have so far laid out in our Neighbourhood Development Plan and I can’t see residents being supportive of them.”

If built, the new tower would outdo the already much complained about 12-storey housing development at 187-199 West End Lane.

Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for children, highlighted what she says are the benefits of the development.

“Everyone agrees that we urgently need more primary places in this area,” she said.

“The new proposals will produce a fantastic new school building and a big increase in the number of jobs.

“The lack of affordable housing is so we can fund the construction of the rest of the site.

“We also believe the position of the tower block – set against the railway line – will mean it won’t have an adverse impact on surrounding buildings.”

Since West Hampstead’s three former Liberal Democrat councillors lost their seats to Labour representatives at the local election in March, some members of the community feel the area is now “on its own” in opposing the plans, which are supported by the council’s Labour-led administration.

Branko Viric, who manages family-run business West Hampstead Motors and has been based at the Liddell Road site for over 13 years, has been fighting with other traders to halve the development.

“The Lib Dem councillors fought our corner on this development but now we’ve got three Labour councillors in a Labour-run administration,” he said. “We’ve no choice but to leave.”

The public can see the plans on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 15 and July 16) at the Sidings Centre, West Hampstead Community Centre and West Hampstead Library.

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