Coronavirus: Councillor calls for Camden to halt Hampstead construction scheme amid pandemic

The plans for Oriel Place, which include benches, lighting and the removal of the gate. Picture: Har

The plans for Oriel Place, which include benches, lighting and the removal of the gate. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Archant

A Hampstead Town councillor is angry that, despite the ongoing lockdown and ban on non-essential travel, construction work is continuing on the Oriel Place Garden project.

The long-mooted scheme will see the space behind Gail’s Bakery in Hampstead opened up for public use.

Cllr Stephen Stark (Con, Hampstead Town) has been one of the people driving the scheme.

But amid the coronavirus lockdown, he called on the council to pause work.

He said: “Camden Council should be doing the right thing and closing this and other Camden Council owned nonessential work sites without further delay and allow those workers to go home and protect themselves, their families and others.”

Cllr Stark added he had written to the council’s chief executive imploring her to close the site, and others like it across the borough.

Neighbours including Joanna Boyd have complained about the lack of social distancing, and the disruption the construction noise causes to those working from home nearby.

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Joanna said: “The whole project is incredibly frustrating and now, especially since we are being required to work from home, I have non-stop drilling and I cannot take client calls without drilling in the background.

“[I have] complained several times to the council about this.”

Previously, Hampstead locals have aired fears the scheme will increase antisocial behaviour in the area.

On Saturday March 14 a small fire was started in the vicinity of the construction site.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “Current government guidance for the construction industry and its employees is that works are allowed to continue.

“Delivering new community spaces like Oriel Place is a long-term priority for Camden, however our immediate concern is ensuring the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“This is why we are calling on the Government to provide clarity for the construction industry and offer assurances similar to those we have seen put in place for other businesses and their employees.”

They added that, until that point, the town hall would “stay in touch with our own contractors” and remind them follow public health advice to keep employees and the wider public safe.