West Hampstead Eruv gets the go ahead
- Credit: Archant
Controversial plans to build an Orthodox Jewish boundary in parts of West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage have been given the go ahead by Camden planners after more than a year of deliberation and consultation.
The proposals for the boundary of poles and wires – known as an Eruv – which had split residents and led to accusations of religious encroachment, were approved by Camden’s Development Control Committee last Thursday.
The plans, first submitted to Camden Council in June 2014 by Brondesbury Park Synagogue, mark out an area in NW3 and NW6 within which Jews can carry out activities deemed as work and banned during the Sabbath.
This includes pushing a trolley or pram, carrying shopping or keys, and pushing a wheelchair.
The Brondesbury Eruv will now see pairs of poles, each up to 5.5m high, with clear fishing wire running between them at 14 locations across West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage, Kilburn and Fortune Green in Camden and one in Brent.
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It runs from Kilburn High Road and Minster Road across to Canfield Gardens, in South Hampstead, and St John’s Court, in Finchley Road.
Although it utilises existing walls and fences, there remain a number of locations where no natural boundary exists, principally across roads and footpaths where poles will be installed.
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Brondesbury Park Synagogue, who made the application, said the zone is needed to accommodate the needs of its “growing community”.
It said: “The erection of an eruv not only relaxes an ancient religiously-held prohibition for the benefit of all observant Jewish residents but, more significantly, it allows those who are disabled, as well as those who are carers of disabled adults or pre-ambulant children, to leave the confines of their homes on Friday evenings and Saturdays.”
The council has since received a total of 73 written representations with 40 objecting and 27 in support.
Those objecting include the London Borugh of Westminster who are opposed to the street clutter and the Combined Residents Associations of West Hampstead (CRASH), Fordwych Residents Association, West Hampstead Local Community Group and St John’s Wood Society with concerns ranging from its size, the amount of street clutter, and need to take in the views of all the community rather than just a minority group.
Others argued the plans represented a wider threat of religion “encroaching on public spaces” and more extremely that the clear
association with one religious group could make the area within the Eruv a target for extremist and terrorist activity.
But councillors accepted the conclusion of officers that the Eruv, with a few minor location amendments, should be given the go ahead. Their report stated: “In conclusion the proposed development would not impact on the amenity enjoyed by neighbouring residents.
All poles have been sited in manner to minimise the impact on the surrounding street scene and would not cause harm to conservation areas, nor would the development impact on the highway network.”
They added: “There is no evidence to suggest that Eruvs result in a rise in racial attacks or anti-Semitic behaviour. There is also no evidence to suggest that they would alter the balance of the community by attracting or alienating a particular racial or religious group.”