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West Hampstead Square rebrands as “Heritage Lane”

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Ballymore’s increasingly delayed West Hampstead Square megaproject has taken another turn for the bizzare. In a marketing document seen by West Hampstead Life, the developer is selling the long leasehold for the commercial part of the development with a breakdown of who the tenants will be. The words “West Hampstead Square” appear nowhere in this glossy brochure. Instead, we are invited to take a walk down “Heritage Lane”.

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A Ballymore spokesperson told us that this was not the developer’s idea. Indeed she sounded a bit peeved given the amount they’d spent on marketing West Hampstead Square. Instead, she claimed that Camden had forced this upon them. We are chasing Camden for comment/confirmation, though local councillors and the NDF were nonplussed. It is true that local authorities and Royal Mail do have a say over new street names even on private developments. But how anyone thought Heritage Lane was a good idea is beyond me.

Perhaps if indeed Camden is responsible, the new name should have been put to some sort of public vote… Or maybe not (Blocky McBlockface anyone?). The access road for the bin lorries and no doubt endless Yodel vans is hardly lane-like, and the commercial bit out front certainly isn’t a Lane. It’s not a Square either to be fair, but it is some form of broadly quadrilaterally shaped space.

Still, all that heritage eh? Um. West Hampstead Square Heritage Lane is a distinctly modern development, all brick and glass and air conditioning units. Whether or not you like it aesthetically, it is unapologetically modern and does not conjure up images of heritage. And nor does it need to – it’s been marketed as modern living for modern people so this sudden throwback to heritage seems an odd choice?

Ballymore did hold a local competition to help with the naming of the tower blocks, but we all naively assumed that West Hampstead Square would be the permanent name of the whole scheme.

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The winning entry suggested the blocks were named after local authors, and apparently Camden has agreed to this, so the first five blocks at least will be named (I don’t know in what order) Orwell, Milne, Lessing, Beckford and Hardy.

So what’s going to be in Heritage Lane?

We all know that Marks & Spencer is opening a food store there. This is a large 5,800 sq foot shop (ground floor), for which M&S will pay just shy of a quarter of a million pounds a year in rent. To give you an idea of size, that’s larger than the Little Waitrose and Tesco Express on West End Lane combined.

Next door is an M&S “Hot Food on the Move” café. The final ground floor unit is being occupied by The Provenance Meat Company, a butcher that has a Notting Hill outlet. After years and years (and years) of people whining about not having a butcher in West Hampstead, we’ve suddenly got two… and a farmers market. Are they all sustainable?

On the upper floor, it’s been well known for a while that the Village Haberdashery is moving from its cramped Mill Lane premises to take over a large 1,400 square foot space that will be both shop and workshop.

"Heritage Lane". Photo via Annie Barker

“Heritage Lane”. Photo via Annie Barker

Owner Annie Barker has big plans for the space, and it’s genuinely pleasing to see that a local business has been given a sizeable space there at reasonable rent – at least for five years when her rent will be reviewed. Finally on the upper floor, the news you’ve all been waiting for… yes… another estate agent. According to the brochure, this has not been confirmed yet, though it’s described as “specialising in premium new homes and luxury real estate with multiple offices in London and the Far East.” All in all, the annual rental income in year one comes in at £325,500.

And what is all this commercial space on the market for? According to one source, the asking price is somewhere around £6.75 million.