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02 shopping centre car park developer is told: No towers here please!

'It needs to be somewhere people can walk through, connecting Finchley Road with West Hampstead'

19 November, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

The 02 Centre [Julian Osley]

DEVELOPERS looking to build housing and shops in West Hampstead have been warned: Don’t put tower blocks here!

Property firm Landsec, who bought the O2 shopping centre and cinema complex in Finchley Road in 2010, has begun consulting on long-held plans to transform the car park behind the site.

But the West Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum have insisted that any high-rise buildings must be avoided.

Chairman Keith Moffitt said: “What we do not want is a string of tower blocks – that is the danger, that is what we fear. We want to see a low-rise development which has a good sense of community and of being a village.”

Landsec is reviewing their property portfolio, which includes a string of shopping centres across the UK. The O2 is high on their list of sites that could be redeveloped.

Mr Moffit, a former Liberal Democrat councillor and leader of the council, added: “We have been expecting something for a long time, and we sense it is gradually becoming the top of their priorities. We suspect it won’t be developed with a lot of office space, as retail and residential is more important now.”

Keith Moffitt

The forum has drawn up its own proposals for the area which it hopes Town Hall planners will take into account. It includes calls for more affordable homes.

Mr Moffit said: “Whatever is built has to respect the area and not in isolation. It needs to be somewhere people can walk through, connecting Finchley Road with West Hampstead, not a gated estate, and it should include open space. We need affordable housing, and we want to see it integrated with everything else built.”

Any development will face further obstacles as parts of the site are owned by other firms.

Landsec held a survey in September to gauge views, receiving more than 800 responses. A summary of the feedback is yet to be published.

A company spokeswoman said: “We think this site has significant redevelopment potential. It has been allocated by the council for a comprehensive redevelopment, one which could deliver the new homes, retail, workspace, community or health facilities the area and London needs.”

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