Locals objecting in numbers to Liddell Road plans

Camden has extended the deadline for comments on its Liddell Road redevelopment planning applications to February 12th. In practice, if you still want to comment, then submissions will be considered right up to the time of the vote, which is likely to be in early March.

Of the non-statutory responses Camden has published so far:

  • Objections: 32 (including two residents associations)
  • Sitting on the fence: 1 local organisation (WHAT)
  • In favour: 1 (a WHAT member)

The nature of the objections vary; many are about the scale of the development, but some are very specifically about the details of the school, including the admissions point problem.

The Neighbourhood Development Forum’s response is not online yet, but West Hampstead Life has a copy. It’s long but the key message is in the final paragraph.

“Overall, it is clear to us that this scheme – as reflected in the two planning applications – is in breach of a number of key policies in the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework], the London Plan, Camden Council’s LDF [Local Development Framework], and in the Neighbourhood Plan. The two proposals must therefore both be refused as together neither are planning policy compliant. The NDF remains committed to working with Camden Council and local residents to bring forward a scheme that is compliant with adopted and emerging planning policy – and which reflects the wishes of our community.”

If you wish to read the whole submission, it’s embedded below.

The statutory responses from Thames Water and London Underground give the developers (that’s the council remember), no cause for concern. The response from TfL concludes, however, by saying:

“There are some question marks about how the mixed uses’ ‘shared’ needs will work in practice in a way that does not create extra activity at the kerbside especially in view of the increase in vulnerable road users associated with the Primary School and nursery.”

It also states,

“Unfortunately the applicant has not responded to pre-application advice that its blue-badge [disabled parking] space allocation is wholly inadequate and does not meet London Plan Standards (aminimum of one space per ten residential units).”

Read the full TfL response.

Whether the councillors on Camden’s planning committee, who include West Hampstead councillor Phil Rosenberg and Fortune Green councillor Richard Olszewski, will be swayed by the antipathy to the details of this proposal remains to be seen.

The one thing they should not be swayed by is the argument that the development of 156 West End Lane will deliver substantial affordable housing and that this mitigates the dire lack of it at Liddell Road. Whether this turns out to be the case or not, no scheme has yet been brought forward for 156, and thus a decision on one proposal cannot be made on the basis of a hopeful promise.

If you feel strongly about any aspect of the development – whether it’s for or against – do submit your comments to Camden and/or contact one of the West Hampstead or Fortune Green councillors: James Yarde, Phil Rosenberg, Angela Pober, Lorna Russell, Richard Olszewski and Flick Rea [firstname.lastname @ camden.gov.uk].

NDF Response to Liddell Road Consultation by WHampstead

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  • Theo Blackwell

    Again, if I could pick you up on balance here Jonathan.

    You can either see the project as list of things to object to because each one isn’t 100% perfect, or the wider picture where, taken as a whole, it’s a plan to build a new school where it is urgently needed. Evidence for this needed is the discussion about the admissions point!

    You are right that what happens at West End Lane is not a material planning consideration for this application – but if people want to talk about overall benefit to the area I can’t see how you can dismiss the large number of affordable homes we want there. For the avoidance of doubt a 50% compliant development was a condition of sale, so it’s a bit more than a promise – but I’ve made this point on this blog before.

    Turning to the extract, I simply do not understand the point about the ‘political’ receipt of £3m claimed by some on the NDF. I’d ask them to please make that charge explicit and explain precisely what they mean, rather than rely on code.

    The receipt goes to repair Camden’s schools via the Community Investment Programme (CIP). For what its worth, the big investment to Emmanuel Primary a few years ago came partly from money raised elsewhere or funds which could have been used elsewhere so you can’t argue that the area has been used as a ‘cash-cow’ unless this and other facts are ignored. In the wider area, CIP investment running into the many millions has been made to the following schools: Beckford, Hampstead, Kingsgate, St. Eugene de Mazenod and St. Mary’s Kilburn.

    The whole area is a net beneficiary of funds ‘raised elsewhere’ – because we are committed to investing in Camden schools at a time when capital funding has been cut, as it happens by the government. The improvements I cited above would not have happened unless receipts were raised from developments elsewhere, including I might add, from my own ward.

    • Hi Theo, the story here is on the responses to the planning application. If the responses aren’t balanced in favour of the council’s proposals, then there’s not a lot I can do about it. I think the council’s position has been well articulated by you and others on these pages and elsewhere.

      It’s perfectly reasonable to ask people to look at the big picture; it would be more reasonable if that request was married with transparency on the numbers behind it all. It’s also perfectly reasonable for locals to push hard for a major development to be as good as it possibly can be.

      I fully accept that the council is seeking the 50% at 156 West End Lane. Delivering it will no doubt be extremely difficult. I will be the first to applaud if it’s achieved.

      I will let the NDF respond to the question aimed at them.

      I don’t understand your point about admissions? This just looks like a total snafu by council officers who’ve been saying one thing for the best part of two years, only to find that their proposal is not permitted – the original consultation on the expanded school was hardly overwhelmingly endorsed by parents (the number of parents responding at all was in single figures if I recall). It seems quite reasonable to assume that the admissions point would have been resolved before the scheme was first put forward – or at least debated at the same time? You can’t honestly tell me that the admissions point issue has been handled well?

      • Theo Blackwell

        I could answer at length to all of these points – and you can agree or disagree depending on your perspective. But since you have a perspective, it boils down to the question if you don’t think the council as developer is acting in a straightforward way, and there is some hidden agenda not to build affordable homes from an administration which stood on a platform to build more homes and repair schools – let’s be clear: what do you think it is?

      • I don’t think there’s a hidden agenda for Camden not to build affordable homes in the borough. But right now, it’s hard to see – especially given the astonishing reluctance to share any financial details with residents – how building affordable homes and thereby develop/sustain a mixed community *in West Hampstead* is on the council’s agenda. And yes I understand that could all change with 156 West End Lane, and I hope it does.

    • An additional point on 156 West End Lane… it will be immensely disappointing if the result here is that the development funds affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. Camden’s core policy on minimising social polarisation and creating mixed and inclusive communities would then be in tatters in West Hampstead, where expensive housing in all the Growth Area developments (and Liddell Road, which is outside the Growth Area) is starting to skew the population dramatically in favour of the affluent.

    • West Hampstead NDF

      Hi Theo,

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment/criticism aimed at the NDF. For the avoidance of doubt – £3 million is code for…. £3 million!!

      As you know, the Council have made a decision to make a £3 million profit/surplus from this scheme to spend elsewhere. How the figure was arrived at (why not £4m, or £2m?) is not clear. Whatever the figure, it makes a massive impact on the viability of the scheme – for example if there was no £3 million profit/surplus, we could have a lower tower block and/or more affordable housing (a point made by West Hampstead Amenity and Transport in their response to the planning application). Given that this is public land and money, this seems to be a legitimate area for discussion and for residents to ask questions. For example, figures prepared by council officers suggest the tower block could be reduced in height to 9 storeys and the council would still make a £2 million profit/surplus (I assume it could come down to 7 storeys and you’d still have a £1 million profit/surplus).

      The broader point is that West Hampstead has been designated by the Council as one of five growth areas in the borough. This means a significant increase in the number of homes and the number of people living in the area. To go with that, new infrastructure is needed – be it upgraded stations, more school places, more health services etc. So the school is welcome – but many people think that £3m should stay in the area, precisely because we are a growth area, and not be taken away to be spent in parts of the borough that aren’t experiencing such levels of growth and development.

      What perhaps you fail to understand is that this a community that knows more than most about the impact of growth areas – and has a good knowledge of the planning system through the work in drawing up our Neighbourhood Plan. What would have been more useful would have been if the Council had genuinely engaged our community (rather than lectured to us) and asked us what we wanted from the Liddell Road site.
      For example:
      If you’d come forward with a proposal for a tower block with 50% affordable housing, we could have had an interesting discussion and debate.
      If you had linked the Liddell Road and 156 West End Lane sites, again, we could have had an interesting discussion. Would it be better to put the affordable housing on Liddell Road and the employment space at 156 WEL (as it’s in the town centre)? – quite possibly.
      How does the local community (not just the school) want the site to be arranged?

      I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. What has annoyed many people is that the council never came to us with options (as has happened with other CIP developments) – it just tried to impose its own view.

      However, as mentioned at the end of the NDF response to the planning application – the NDF is open to discussions about how best to take this scheme forward. Personally, I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk with you (which might be more productive than making lots of comments on a blog!).

      Best wishes,


      • Theo Blackwell

        The code point is about your use of the word ‘political’ – not the £3m – really I don’t get what you mean here and I’m not sure it adds much to general understanding.

        I think we’re talking about the same thing here except you have the impression that money raised here is just used for some other purpose outside of West Hampstead and somehow people are being short-changed.

        Certainly its a policy decision to raise some receipts to support school repairs in the borough – Community Investment Programme money is not ringfenced for areas, but I’ve pointed out in these series of posts the areas a whole is benefiting from a range of investments in schools – using capital raised from elsewhere in the borough – because it’s an area where there is recognised demand for school places and better schools.

        Because there is little public land to dispose of here and high need, WH ends up as a significant beneficiary. I hope this answers the points –

      • West Hampstead NDF

        The use of the word ‘political’ is to make clear it’s not a planning reason – ie there’s no requirement in planning terms for a £3 million profit/surplus (the council is already making a return from selling the land to a private developer). So – the political decision (made by the cabinet) to require the scheme to make a £3 million profit/surplus has a significant impact on the sort of proposals that can be brought forward for the site. If there was no £3 million profit/surplus, the scheme would look a lot different (and would probably have much more support).

        Any answers to the other points?

  • G&C

    Dear Mr Blackwell,

    as a resident in Iverson Road, I find the incomplete data that has been given on this project, the height of the tower block, and the lack of social housing or clarity about the admission point of the school appalling (among other things). And I do not think this opinion is due to a lack of balance by anyone giving us information, but by the way the project itself is being forced upon residents with little respect for their life quality and opinions. I am very happy on the other side that there has been good sincere and crystal clear communication on what is going on by local press, indi web press like whl and community, and would like to thank them for the great service they do to our community. It is not the word ‘political’ used here that changes the opinion of the citizens, it is the lack of being willing to change parts of the project that make a community strongly unhappy and therefor to have a harmonious relationship with your taxpayers needs that does.


    • Theo Blackwell

      With respect I disagree – the council has been very clear. In our decision to proceed we weighed up a range of factors in public, twice. The project inevitably involves trade-offs in order to fund the school, because we face austerity budgets. Because there are trade-offs not everyone is going to be satisfied. I’d love it if there were more social housing, but we can’t afford the school and the business space. The school is part of a huge investment the council is undertaking in the area as I have blogged about here http://theoblackwell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/west-hampstead-benefits-from-huge.html – which shows the council us taking great care over the future needs of the residents.