Plans for 18-mile Jewish boundary set to be considered

Plans to install more than 90 poles across Camden to form an 18-mile special boundary for Orthodox Jews would fly in the face of the borough’s planning laws, a former environment boss has warned.

Pockets of Camden will have to be dug up to erect the 4metre and 6metre black poles - including a cluster of narrow streets in Hampstead where the width of the pavement is less than 1.8metre.

The Camden Eruv, which would allow orthodox members of the Jewish community to move around more freely on the Sabbath, will stretch from Chalk Farm in the south to the edge of Childs Hill in the north if it is given the green light by Camden Council.

But former cabinet member for environment and Hampstead Town councillor Chris Knight claims the scheme would contravene the council’s planning and highways policy.

He said: “The council’s development policy framework states that no application will be approved unless it enhances or preserves the conservation area (Hampstead).

“If they want to place poles next to listed buildings people will raise objections to a 6metre pole outside their home.

“It’s Camden’s policy to reduce all street furniture where possible and the eruv will add to that.”

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The Camden Eruv Committee, which would pay for the project, claim 98 per cent of the eruv will be formed by the natural landscape such as train lines and lampposts.

The rest will be made up of a thin wire threaded through the top of the poles.

The symbolic boundary line would allow Orthodox Jews to carry out simple tasks on the Sabbath such as carrying and pushing, which would otherwise be deemed work.

The eruv committee, fronted by Rabbi Shlomo Levin of South Hampstead Synagogue, said it has received widespread support for the plans and only a handful of complaints from residents who fear the boundary could be “divisive”.

Boyer Planning, which is working on the scheme, said in planning documents: “The development affects a large number of sites over a large area.

“However the potential adverse impacts at each site are very minor, and the cumulative impacts are also minor given the distance between sites and the amount of area covered.

The company added: “The development has no cultural impact on people that are not of the Jewish faith as the eruv has no meaning other than to Jewish people.

“However the significance of the development for Orthodox Jewish people is considerable. It would enable greater freedom for members of the community that rely on strollers or wheelchairs to attend synagogue and mix with their community.”

The plans were submitted to Camden Council on July 5 and residents have until August 8 to comment on the proposal.