O2 Centre: Developer says it 'will listen' but still aiming for 1,900 homes

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

O2 Centre developers Landsec are still hoping to build 16 storey towers in West Hampstead - Credit: Landsec/AHMM

The O2 Centre developer has sought to reassure concerned locals that worries about height of buildings there would be listened to - but confirmed plans for 1,900 homes involving towers of up to 16 storeys remained in place. 

Execs from Landsec - which owns the O2 Centre and its car park - and its architects AHMM spoke at a public meeting of Camden Council's development management forum (DMF) on Tuesday evening.

At the meeting Camden Council's David Fowler set out the planning policy relevant to the site, before those bringing forward the development showed attendees a presentation and answered questions.

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

A draft sketch of how the streetscene and the public areas of the O2 Centre redevelopment could look. - Credit: Landsec/AHMM

Landsec's project lead, Tim Trillo, told the meeting: "We want to work in partnership with you and with Camden Council to deliver a development that meets London's needs.

"I do recognise that some people are still concerned about issues such as height and the provision of affordable housing. We will continue to listen to that."

Susi Legood from architects AHMM - which has drawn up the plans for Landsec - explained in further detail how buildings at the Finchley Road end of the project would see terraces which would "reflect the existing context". 

Answering questions about why 1,900 homes are being proposed, given this is around double the size of the development mooted for the O2 Centre's car park until last year, Leoni Oliva from surveyors Gerald Eve said: "The site has been identified in policy for a number of years [...] as a site suitable for providing a large quantity of housing. 

"There is obviously a housing crisis and Camden Council in particular has over 10,000 homes to develop over the next ten years - and that's quite a challenge. 

The O2 Centre site run along north London's rail network

The O2 Centre site stretches back from Finchley Road, along the railway lines, up to West End Lane. - Credit: Polly Hancock

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"We are looking at the site in terms of what's the best contribution it can make."

Theresa Brewer, a Landsec development manager, answered a question about housing density and how to ensure communities functioned even in high-rise blocks. 

She said: "It's a really important question that everyone on the project has been looking at and reviewing. We think there are many successful examples of multi-storey living in London."

She said it is "really important" that the development "creates the right blend of homes and community spaces" to ensure this was the case.

Previously critics of the scheme, including from groups such a West Hampstead Amenity and Transport, have called for building heights to be much reduced, while opposition councillors such as Cllr Oliver Cooper (Con, Hampstead Town) have argued Camden shouldn't back putting so many homes in West Hampstead.

After the meeting the nearby MILAM Residents' Association was among those to express dismay at the state of the plans as they are now.

The association tweeted: "The plans still include the creation of 1900 homes (35% affordable) in blocks as high as 16 storeys, the demolition of the O2 building and phased development that could last 15 years.

"The main community assets, ie GP surgery, community hall and 'Park', are on land they [Landsec] do not own. Still no commitment to create a step-free West Hampstead Station that is so much needed.

"Would urge any MILAM resident to participate in future 'consultation' events as what is proposed will dramatically change our area."