CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The O2 shopping centre faces demolition

Developer plans 2,000 homes on site

24 December, 2020

The 02 shopping centre is one of the best known buildings on the Finchley Road

THE famous O2 shopping centre is set to be knocked down under long-term plans for the prime site in Finchley Road, it emerged this week.

Landowners had previously been looking at how to redevelop the car park but property firm Landsec said that at some stage the mall would also be redeveloped. It would mean the end for its supermarket, cinema, coffee shops and dining complex and a major facelift on the edge of West Hampstead.

Landsec want to build 2,000 homes on the site but – as the New Journal reported last month – have already been warned by neighbourhood groups not to pack the area with tower blocks.

The company, which owns a nationwide portfolio of similar sites, bought the O2 in 2010 but now believe customer habits have changed. Its latest masterplan could see new tree-lined streets linking Finchley Road with West Hampstead.

The developer held discussions with residents last year and conducted an online poll in September.

It has now launched a fresh consultation to gauge the views of nearby residents and businesses.

West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group chairman John Saynor said its members were considering the latest ideas – but added he felt proposing 2,000 new homes could only be achieved by creating high-rise tower blocks.

He said: “That is a lot of housing, and their current proposals say nothing about the height of these buildings. “Tower blocks seems to be the only way you could fit in that number of dwellings. What they seem to be talking about are very high buildings – and that is not popular.”

He added that another crucial question yet to be answered was the number of affordable homes being offered.

“The crucial thing is how many affordable homes there will be – and that does not mean ‘affordable’ homes that are commercial flats let at 80 per cent of the market rate and are still too expensive,” he said.

“We need flats that are available at the levels of social rent.”

The complex is home to a cinema, supermarket, shops and several places to eat

And while many said in an early poll that the O2 centre is not well used, its supermarket, Sainsbury’s, provides a crucial service, Mr Saynor said, adding: “They asked what people thought of the O2, and the consensus was people were not overly enthusiastic about it but the supermarket is certainly needed. It is the only big one around here and it is essential for many.”

Landsec say they will create “a huge amount of green and public space, something that people have been clear is sorely missing from the area at the moment and would better connect the areas of Finchley Road and West Hampstead”.

No date has been fixed for the demolition of the O2 centre.

Landsec’s development director, Nick Davis, said: “We were delighted that nearly 800 people engaged with our last community survey to share their views on the O2 Centre and its future. We’ve thought carefully about the feedback and are extremely excited to now share our first ideas for an inclusive and green new neighbourhood, one that would deliver real comprehensive change.

“If we get this right it could transform the whole area. It could be a place that properly connects communities, gives everyone some space and prioritises people over cars.”

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