O2 Centre plans are 'totally out of scale' warn community figures

A sketch of the new 'central square' green space now planned for the O2 Centre's redevelopment in Finchley Road

The O2 Centre plans now include a new central green space - Credit: Landsec/AHMM

The planned tower blocks at the O2 Centre site would be "totally out of scale with the area" and "not something people will welcome at all", local figures warned this week.

Landsec, owner of the O2 Centre, unveiled a new consultation which sets out more detail on the vast scheme for 1,900 homes between Finchley Road and West End Lane, but community groups and local councillors remain unconvinced by what they've seen so far. 

Camden Council's opposition leader Cllr Oliver Cooper has also called on the town hall to make sure a new planning policy document isn't "tantamount to giving planning permission" for the development. 

A draft sketch of how the streetscene and the public areas of the O2 Centre redevelopment could look. 

Landsec says green space is at the heart of its O2 Centre plans - Credit: Landsec/AHMM

Camden is expected to bring forward its Site Allocations Local Plan (SALP) document this summer. During a consultation in early 2020, the document – which sets out guidelines the town hall has to follow when making planning decisions – suggested there was space for 950 homes on the O2 Centre car park. He warned against any "secret deals" and said the council should consult the public again about the document if it changes significantly.

Referring to the heights of the development  – which could reach 16 storeys in parts of the site  –  co-chair of the West Hampstead and Fortune Green Neighbourhood Forum Keith Moffitt said: "At least they are being clear on heights, but it's not something I think people will welcome at all. 

"We just think that it's totally out of scale for the area. Ideally we would be looking for six or seven-storey buildings in this area."

Councillor for Hampstead Town, Oliver Cooper

Cllr Oliver Cooper has criticised the density of the O2 Centre redevelopment as planned - Credit: Oliver Cooper

Keith said there are positives in the new information. He cited the new green space Landsec has planned for the centre of the development, along with its commitment to a "large supermarket", although he was concerned about whether this would work given the lack of parking. 

He added: "There's this sense that we've all had experience of things being built which may look very nice on paper but which don't stack up in reality. One of things people really don't want to lose is the big supermarket. There's a commitment in their to maintain the supermarket, but the fundamental issue will be how do you have that big supermarket if you don't have a car park?

"It's quite hard to see how you make that work."

An aerial view of the proposed O2 Centre redevelopment. 

A previous image of the planned layout - without the new central square - of the O2 Centre redevelopment - Credit: Landsec /AHMM

He said he would like to see firmer commitments from Landsec with regard to building a new lift at West Hampstead Tube station.

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West Hampstead's Cllr Shiva Tivari (Lab) said the new details remain "quite superficial".

He added: "The number and height of buildings, the proportion of housing with social rents, the contribution to new community infrastructure like doctors, schools and shops, the recognition of the increased pressure put on our transport stations – and perhaps a willingness to help further invest in these through items like station lifts etc – are all items that we are paying very close attention to hearing about when LandSec present a more detailed plan."

Cllr Cooper said the development is too dense and criticised "stacking up thousands of tiny flats in skyscrapers".

He added: "Two thirds of comments on its current [draft plan] across the whole borough were objections to 950 flats at the O2 Centre - yet that number will now double.  By increasing rather than reducing the number of flats, Camden is doing the exact opposite of what residents want. No wonder Camden is scared of asking residents their views again."

He said the town hall needs to "stop picking on West Hampstead" when it comes to allowing what he calls a  "mega-development". 

In releasing the latest consultation, Landsec's Timothy Trillo, who is leading the redevelopment plans, said: “We want to create an inclusive place that works for everyone. A place that integrates and connects the communities of Finchley Road and West Hampstead. We’re excited to share our latest thinking on how we deliver this. We’ve been delighted with the feedback received so far."

In March this year Camden Council said the SALP document would be brought to cabinet and full council for approval "in summer". The town hall has been approached for comment. 

Landsec's consultation page is at o2centreconsultation.co.uk and it is holding two public webinars on June 10 and June 14. 

Camden Council is holding a public meeting itself on June 16 about the issue, for more information see camden.gov.uk/development-management-forum