Future of West Hampstead garden unclear after council blunder

Dynham Road resident Michelle Charlery with son Jayden and neighbours Dorothea and Peter Breitzter-K

Dynham Road resident Michelle Charlery with son Jayden and neighbours Dorothea and Peter Breitzter-Kings on the site of the communal garden under threat of development. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Camden’s housing chief has been forced to defend a pledge he made to halt plans to sell off precious open space - after council officers sent out letters saying the opposite.

Cllr Julian Fulbrook, cabinet member for housing.

Cllr Julian Fulbrook, cabinet member for housing. - Credit: submitted

The letters informed them of the sale of land used as a communal garden in West Hampstead, just days after Cllr Julian Fulbrook said that no decision on the site’s future had been made.

Cllr Fulbrook, cabinet member for housing, said he was unaware of the letters sent to residents about the open space in Dynham Road, but conceded: “unfortunately things are often on auto-pilot”.

He told the Ham&High this week: “The officers have very clear instructions from me that a decision has been paused and will be made in due course.”

In February, Camden’s cabinet approved the sale of the land to the private market as part of the council’s Community Investment Programme (CIP).

Following the cabinet decision, Dorothea Breitzter-Kings, 57, who lives behind the garden in Hemstal Road, delivered a deputation and petition with 32 signatures in opposition to the sale of the land at Camden’s full council meeting on March 4.

She said: “These small properties [on Dynham Road] are suited to the elderly and people who have health problems. Often they can’t make it any further than that garden, so to lose that will have disastrous effects on their well-being and health.

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“It affects a row of about six properties and if you lose that open space it will be like a prison yard.”

Cllr Fulbrook told the full council meeting in March that he had “suspended” any decision and would consult with residents.

But just over a fortnight later Michelle Charlery, a Dynham Road resident who uses the garden with her one-year-old son, received a letter from Melissa Dillon, Camden’s head of regeneration and development, saying the land would be sold.

Mrs Breitzter-Kings and her husband Peter, 64, then received a letter on April 2 from Camden Council officer Ian Sumner informing them the sale of the land would proceed by auction “within this new financial year”.