Hampstead nursery slams church over impending eviction

Hampstead Activity Nursery held a protest on May 8 to save the nursery from eviction from Christ Church, Hampstead 

Hampstead Activity Nursery held a protest on May 8 to save the nursery from eviction from Christ Church, Hampstead - Credit: HAN

A Hampstead nursery has accused its church landlord of "failing in its duty to care for children" as it faces eviction from the site.

Hampstead Activity Nursery has been operating out of Christ Church, in Hampstead Square, for 22 years. 

But in February staff were told by a parent at Heathside School that the lease was being taken over by the independent preparatory school in September.

Maria Avanzato, nursery manager, said the relationship with the church "went totally bad" after the pandemic.

A new church treasurer and warden "chained us out" she said and the Parochial Church Committee (PCC) "hiked up the rents".

She said the PCC had "refused to negotiate" a new lease which contained a clause stating a contract "may be terminated with immediate effect should there be any disputes".

The church says it offered "reasonable extension terms, which were not accepted.

A young child handing out leaflets at a protest to Save Hampstead Activity Nursery

A young child handing out leaflets at a protest to Save Hampstead Activity Nursery - Credit: HAN

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Maria said Activity Nursery is the only place in Hampstead offering day care services for babies from three months to school age.

"It has become apparent that the PCC at Christ Church are not carrying out their duty to care for the children, families, local community and staff in the Hampstead area," she added.

"The displacement of the children, having to move nursery, will not only result in an unsettling experience and could be traumatic for them.

"This could also cause parents plenty of stress and difficulties finding an alternative day care provider when they have jobs and careers."

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq wrote to the church to raise concerns.

In an email to nursery staff, she said: "In response to this representation Christ Church has indicated that they are not open to changing their position, which is disappointing.

"It is vital that we secure affordable nursery provision for the children currently enrolled here given that it seems that Christ Church is not willing to negotiate, and I will help in any way I can."

 Hampstead Activity Nursery

Staff at Hampstead Activity Nursery marched from Hampstead High Street to Christ Church in Hampstead Square - Credit: Hampstead Activity Nursery

A spokesperson for Christ Church Hampstead said its PCC "offered reasonable extension terms" to Activity Nursery, "but unfortunately the offer was rejected by the owner".

"This meant that the PCC was obliged to explore other options," they said.

The spokesperson said Heathside School was approached, and in January Hampstead Activity Nursery was told it must leave, to give it time to find a new location. 

They added: “We stand ready to support the Activity Nursery over the remaining period of their tenancy and wish them well in future.”