O2 Centre: developer Landsec 'looking to re-provide' Sainsbury's

An aerial view of the proposed O2 Centre redevelopment. 

An aerial view of the proposed O2 Centre redevelopment. - Credit: Landsec /AHMM

Making sure there is space for Sainsbury's in the proposed redevelopment of the O2 Centre is a priority, the developer told the Ham&High

Landsec, which owns the Finchley Road shopping centre and the 5,000 bay car park behind it, is looking to transform the area. A consultation is on going on a broad proposal for 2,000 homes, a new public square and a linear park running towards West End Lane. 

Theresa Brewer, Landsec's development manager, told this newspaper the company is thankful for "constructive feedback" received, and said it is listening to the comments made. 

The potentially to-be-demolished O2 Centre in Finchley Road.

The potentially to-be-demolished O2 Centre in Finchley Road. - Credit: Polly Hancock

She said: "We are really looking at how we can futureproof the scheme, and how we can move to a more mixed-use model. For us, this is one of our best opportunities. Mostly because it's such a fantastic location, but also because such a vast part of the site is car park."

Community groups are keen to ensure that the plans feature appropriate levels of affordable housing and provide public space, and that amenities including Sainsbury's and the O2's leisure facilities are retained in some form.

Cllr Shiva Tiwari (Lab, West Hampstead) said: "What we are really keen on is that as many people as possible respond to the consultation. We are really keen that people give their views, and what we need is more affordable housing and more green space."

The public square area which could replace the O2 Centre facing onto Finchley Road.

The public square area which could replace the O2 Centre facing onto Finchley Road. - Credit: Landsec / AHMM

Lucy Findlay, of the Combined Residents' Associations of South Hampstead, said: "There's an acceptance that something is going to happen. We can't stop progress.

"Lots of people have come forward to say it is vital to have a large supermarket serving the area, and some element of parking - some people do still need to drive to the shops.

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"There's huge demand for the gym and the swimming and people don't want to lose those facilities. 

A major concern raised has been over the potential loss of the large Sainsbury's supermarket in the basement of the O2 Centre itself.

Theresa said: "We will be looking to re-provide Sainsbury's. But we are also looking at how we can support local shops, local designers and creatives."

She added that other amenities such as the cinema are also clearly valued by the community, saying the plans would seek to retain them.

Signage outside of the O2 Centre in Finchley Road

Landsec, which owns the O2 Centre, is looking to radically reshape the area around Finchley Road. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Keith Moffitt, former Camden council leader and co-chair of the Fortune Green and West Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, told the Ham&High the scale of any tower blocks on the site weighs on the minds of locals. He echoed Cllr Tiwari's comments on the importance of affordable housing.

He said: "What people were concerned about was the consultation doesn't show the heights of buildings. It would be good if they could be straightforward.

"It's about getting something right for the area, with benefits for the area."

A sketch of what the proposed housing on the O2 Centre site could look like. 

A sketch of what the proposed housing on the O2 Centre site could look like. - Credit: Landsec / AHMM

Addressing the issue of high-rise towers, Theresa said: "This is an opportunity for homes to buy, homes to rent and affordable housing, as we know that's so important and very much needed in London.  We are having discussions with Camden about housing. 

"There are going to be areas of height to get to that (2,000 homes). What we need to do is work with the local community and Camden to see where is most appropriate for height. We are well aware there are nearby conservation areas and things like that to consider." 

The development manager said the developer is keen to listen to the public and make sure the scheme delivers infrastructure to serve the homes, and provides properties of all shapes and sizes.

Landsec is planning to hold virtual consultation events later in January.

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

"It's about getting the balance right. We are looking at around 2,000 new homes. With that, there'll be a need for new doctor's and dentist's. We need to make sure that we are being good neighbours. We have been really pleased with the amount of valuable feedback we have received," said Theresa.

"If you're going to bring more people to the area you need to think about what they are going to do and where they're going to go. We are looking to create that green space, community play space. That was something clear in the feedback, and especially given how Covid has impacted upon people. "

Theresa said Landsec expects to submit a planning application towards the end of 2021.

"We think there's an opportunity here to create something quite exciting," she added. 

The consultation is available at O2vision.commonplace.is