Camden eruv plans: Planners set to rubber-stamp project which split community

Architect of the Eruv Daniel Rosenfelder

Architect of the Eruv Daniel Rosenfelder - Credit: Archant

Camden’s planners have recommended approving the controversial building of an eruv – a Jewish boundary that allows for several exceptions to Shabbat laws – around the borough.

It comes after two years of negotiations between the planning officers and Rosenfelder architects, who have designed the plans for United Synagogues.

The amended scheme, which propose the erection of 37 pairs of poles with clear wire between them across the borough, will go before the council’s planning committee tonight (Thu). An eruv designates an area within which Jewish people may carry out some tasks during the Shabbat.

Two applications, one for the poles part of a Camden eruv and one for overlapping poles that will form part of another in north Westminster, will be decided.

Architect Daniel Rosenfelder told the Ham&High this week: “We hope the changes are enough. We’ve worked extensively with the planning officers to respond to the issues raised in consultation.

“The eruv will make a huge difference to the lives of many – particularly the elderly and infirm – and help people who otherwise struggle to be part of the community.”

Some have objected to the eruv for environmental, aesthetic and even theological reasons, although Rosenfelder’s work with the planning team has seen the location of several of the poles altered to lessen the visual impact of the eruv.

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During the original consultation on this proposal in 2016, the community was split. Planners received 469 letters in support of the eruv applications and 267 in objection.

Some raised worries about the impact the eruv would have on the area’s birds, believing they would struggle to see the clear wire between the poles. But architects dispute this, saying it isn’t an issue with other eruvs.

The Heath and Hampstead Society “strongly objected” to the plans, saying “street clutter” in Hampstead was “not acceptable” in a conservation area.

For some, the amended scheme doesn’t solve all of the problems.

Hampstead campaigner Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “It is a balancing act for the committee. With other objections making it clear that Jews who have a different belief do not want a daily reminder of a system which they do not consider to be valid, their belief is as important as the belief of the applicant.”