O2 Centre redevelopment proposals dominate West Hampstead hustings

Some of the candidates at the local election hustings on April 7 at the Synagogue Hall, Dennington Park Road

Some of the candidates at the local election hustings on April 7 at the Synagogue Hall, Dennington Park Road, organised by West Hampstead Amenity & Transport (WHAT) - Credit: Sam Lawley

The O2 Centre redevelopment, the cost of living crisis and fly-tipping were the main topics debated at an election hustings on April 7.

At the event, organised by West Hampstead Amenity & Transport (WHAT), representatives from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats took questions from a local audience at Synagogue Hall in Dennington Park Road.

The redevelopment of the O2 Centre in Finchley Road dominated the discussion, with the Conservatives referencing a proposal to ban new high-rises in low-rise areas, which had been rejected by the Labour-led council the day before.

Tory candidate for West Hampstead said the motion was tabled “on behalf of the local people”.

“Last night, we saw Lib Dems and Labour not putting you first and allowing high-rises in the O2 development,”  he said.

“We need to stand against the developers and make sure we hold their feet to the fire.”

Labour’s Cllr Shiva Tiwari had said that “the current plans haven’t been approved” and “none of us are in support of them”.

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“We have a bunch of demands we insist on the development satisfying in order for us to support it,” he said.

“These include an affordable supermarket, consideration of building heights and density, appropriate amounts of green space, 50% affordable housing and proper investment in West Hampstead tube station for step free access.” 

Janet Grauberg said the Lib Dems “think there should be development on the O2 site” and do not agree with the Conservatives’ demands to scrap the plans.

“We do have concerns,” she said. “It doesn’t provide the affordable housing we need and doesn’t meet the national standards for open space.”

The ongoing debate about the O2 project was interrupted by questions on some other topics.

Labour candidate Sharon Hardwick said the cost of living crisis “horrified” her and harked back to the days of Charles Dickens.

“Our funding from the government has fallen by 67%,” she said.

“And the Tory government broke its promise regarding money for the pandemic so we’re missing £19m which we could be spending on local citizens.” 

Lib Dem Tracey Shackle said the O2 centre’s plans for an affordable supermarket were a step in the right direction, but questioned the plans for affordable housing, saying that the area needed “social housing and family housing”.
WHAT’s chair and the event’s host, John Saynor, asked the panel about how West Hampstead’s fly-tipping problem could be solved.

“We need to look at our contracts with Veolia and the fines that are being handed out,” Marcos Gold said.

“Labour blaming [the increased fly-tipping statistics] on our monitoring methods is a load of rubbish.” 

Cllr Shiva Tawari defended Labour’s record on the issue, the council had “fought very hard to secure an extra daily collection on the key high streets of West End Lane, Mill Lane and Fortune Green Road”.

Confirmed nominations for Camden wards:

Fortune Green (3 seats):
William Coles (Liberal Democrat)
Hannah David (Conservative)
Lorna Greenwood (Labour)
Nancy Jirira (Liberal Democrat)
Richard Olszewski (Labour)
Keith Sedgewick (Conservative)
Tracey Shackle (Liberal Democrats)
Marcus Storm (Labour)
Jamie Webb (Conservative)

West Hampstead (3 seats):
Ian Cohen (Conservative)
David Elkan (Liberal Democrat)
Marcos Gold (Conservative)
Janet Grauberg (Liberal Democrat) 
Sharon Hardwick (Labour)
Peter Horne (Conservative) 
Elizabeth Pearson (Liberal Democrat)
Nazma Rahman (Labour)
Shiva Tiwari (Labour)