Camden Council looks to squeeze more money out of Hampstead shopping street

Pure Fruit in Heath Street is owned by Brian Lay-Jones and Daughter Deana Camera. Their shop is owne

Pure Fruit in Heath Street is owned by Brian Lay-Jones and Daughter Deana Camera. Their shop is owned by the council. - Credit: Archant

Town hall chiefs are trying to broker deals with traders to squeeze more cash out of valuable properties along one of Hampstead’s main shopping thoroughfares.

Camden Council owns 42 properties along Heath Street and officials are working on a plan to renegotiate the current leases with 12 businesses. New contracts would carve the properties up into commercial premises downstairs and residential properties upstairs.

The council claims this will be a “win-win” deal, swelling its own coffers and offering businesses an investment opportunity.

Currently traders can only use the upper floors for business purposes but under the new proposals to sell 125-year leases, traders could sublet or sell the lease.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said: “This is happening in the regeneration of other places. What they have done, especially in places that have high rents, is capture the residential value of space above the shops.”

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But supporters of independent businesses have branded the plans ill-considered and a short-term cash generator for the council.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, said: “Where are these businesses going to get the money from to pay the huge cost of a residential lease for space they are already getting? It needs further discussion.”

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