Future of Hampstead School of Art threatened by King’s College halls development plans

The last remnant of historic Hampstead’s thriving arts scene could be lost if redevelopment plans revealed this week go ahead.

Plans to demolish the King’s College London student halls and redevelop surrounding buildings in Kidderpore Avenue have been presented to Camden Council by the university and development partners Barratt Homes.

The ambitious scheme would build 138 new houses and flats with underground parking for 86 cars in a two-storey basement.

But the future of Hampstead School of Art is uncertain as it is based in one of the buildings on the site.

Principal Isabel Langtry said: “We desperately need a permanent home or the school will close. The impact of the school disappearing would be huge.

“The intellectual arts scene that started 300 years ago in Hampstead is still alive here. You would never believe it from the outside the variety of what goes on in here.”

Around 600 students attend the school, which plans to offer a degree course from September.

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Supported by sculptor Henry Moore when it was established in the 1960s, it also runs projects for disabled and elderly people.

Frognal and Fitzjohn’s Cllr Gio Spinella said: “The school is such a positive thing for our community and there is no clear indication of what will happen to it.”

Cllr Andrew Mennear added: “The site needs development, so I’m not arguing against it, but we have to make sure that it’s in keeping with the local conservation area and doesn’t have a negative impact on the local amenities.”

The student halls, which are still in use, will be demolished while the Caroline Skeel Library will be converted into flats.

Victorian houses in Kidderpore Avenue, which are in the Reddington and Frognal Conservation Area, will be converted into apartments.

Empty houses in Finchley Road will be replaced with new residential buildings.

A forum to present the plans to the public was held last Wednesday (February 29).

“There were a whole series of concerns raised at the forum because it is going to be a pretty large construction on what has been primarily a residential road,” said Cllr Spinella.

He said residents were also concerned about the safety of children crossing the road to get to St Luke’s Free School.

A spokesman for King’s College London said: “It is the college’s intention to seek better located accommodation for its students and this application is part of that process.”

Feedback can be submitted to Barratt Homes until Friday, March 9.