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Councillor to meet campaigners against Hampstead Oriel Place scheme over objections

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 29 July 2019

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

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

Archant

Campaigners against plans to revamp Oriel Place in Hampstead will meet a councillor about their concerns for the square's future.

The plans, which were originally backed during a consultation in 2016, will see a number of changes to the courtyard behind Gail's Bakery.

The century-old railings will be removed, benches added and lighting will be put installed. The paving slabs in Oriel Place will also be replaced.

The project will be funded by money levied from developers through the planning process, including £50,000 from the Wells Court development. Work will start in the next year.

Tempers were frayed at the Hampstead Town safer neighbourhood panel meeting a week ago (Thu).

People living in flats around it said they feared it could lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour, and complained about the possibility that homeless people could seek shelter there. They also don't think the plans have been properly consulted on.

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One of those to raise concerns is editor of the Village Voice, Sebastian Wocker. He told this newspaper: "I'm not opposed to opening up Oriel Place, but I don't believe the railings should be removed, which are totally unique.

"The history of Hampstead has been a very strong part of its character. Instead the gates should be open during the day, and locked at night."

In total there have been 11 objections, including eight from neighbours.

The idea was backed in a Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum's consultation in 2016 by 63.5 per cent of the 220 respondents. It was included in the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan which was ratified in a referendum in 2018. A public meeting was then held earlier this year. Since the plans were mooted, changes have been made to try to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Maria Higson (Con) told locals that she would meet them individually and as a group to hear their concerns and look at mitigating them.

She said: "We want this small but lovely space to be used for the benefit of the whole community. We have offered to meet with those neighbours that have expressed specific concerns about the project and the final plans."

A Camden Council spokesperson said: "[We are] keen to help support this community-led project. [Our] community safety team has reviewed the plans, have no objection to the design and believe it will be beneficial to the community, creating a new accessible space that aims to minimise the potential for anti-social behaviour and misuse."

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