'Hampstead has grown a heart': Oriel Place courtyard opens

The unveiling in Oriel Place by some of those involved in the project

The unveiling in Oriel Place by some of those involved in the project - Credit: Polly Hancock

A neighbourhood group says “Hampstead has grown a new heart” after the revamped Oriel Place was officially opened on Monday (May 17).

Century-old railings have been removed and the paving slabs replaced to help open up the space, which is overlooked by a giant London plane tree.

Neighbours previously raised concerns that the long-mooted changes could increase antisocial behaviour. 

Janine Griffis, from the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, said: “The tree is what this space is all about.  

“It’s a sustainable, welcoming public space which has good environmental qualities, all the things that we asked for in the neighbourhood plan of a public space. And for me Hampstead has grown a heart.” 

Cllr Stephen Stark (Con, Hampstead Town) said: “For far too long a metal fence and a locked gate spoiled the whole beauty of this area.  

The London plane tree overhanging the street

The London plane tree overhanging the area - Credit: Polly Hancock

“When you stand back against the building and you look up at this absolutely wonderful, splendid tree it just shows how right we were to open up this area so that anyone and everyone can look at it.   

“I hope for a long, long time the people of Hampstead and its visitors can enjoy this space.” 

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The project received funding from the community infrastructure levy after a consultation in 2016.  

Preparing to unveil the redeveloped space

Preparing to unveil the redeveloped space - Credit: Polly Hancock

Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “The revitalisation of Oriel Place Garden has been a longstanding ambition among the local community and was highlighted as a priority in the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan.  

“The site had been closed for a number of years and the aim was to create a safe and welcoming space by opening it for public use and enjoyment.  

“The project is a fine example of a community-led project funded by local community infrastructure levy money that has been supported by the council.” 

Andrew Haslam-Jones, chair of the Heath & Hampstead Society’s town sub-committee, said: “It is very gratifying to see the original idea of Juliette Sonabend of the Heath & Hampstead Society's town sub-committee come to fruition and in the open manner, sympathetic to its surroundings, that the society and the neighbourhood forum campaigned for.” 

The courtyard in Oriel Place

The courtyard in Oriel Place - Credit: Polly Hancock