About West Hampstead

West Hampstead  – it’s only the damn finest place this side of… well, it’s jolly nice.

Young and vibrant
“Greater Whamp”, as I (and only I) like to call it, stretches from Belsize Road to Hampstead Cemetery and from Kilburn High Road to Finchley Road. It has a population of 33,000 and growing. That population is skewed towards young people (there are twice as many people under 40 as over 40) with a high proportion of young professionals attracted by the good transport links. The sizeable established population is concentrated in the north, around Fortune Green.

Locals are wont to moan about chain stores moving in and there has been a recent influx of “multiples”, most notably the three big coffee chains, and micro-formats of Sainburys’ and Tesco. A Little Waitrose is imminent. But look at the high street – West End Lane – more closely and independent businesses thrive, albeit cafés, restaurants, estate agents, and haidressers rather than very many useful shops. We are blessed with one of the great independent bookshops, West End Lane Books, and long may it thrive. There’s also a weekly farmers’ market on Saturdays, which has proved very popular.

West Hampstead is definitely lively in the evenings, but it’s also safe and it’s not an all-night party district. The bars kick out at midnight or 1am later in the week and there are a couple of nightclubs, but most locals are tucked up in bed well before then. Do check out all the latest news on shops and restaurants.

A transport hub
West Hampstead’s excellent transport links, unrivalled anywhere in north-west London (and arguably anywhere in the capital), make it an attractive place from which to commute: Canary Wharf is 25 minutes away on the Jubilee Line, the City is easily accessible via Thameslink and the Metropolitan Line, the Overground links us to Richmond to the west and Stratford to the east, and Luton and Gatwick airports are both on direct train routes. Throw in a bus that runs through the heart of London, another that connects us to major hospitals and a third that takes us to Golders Green or Kensington and Chelsea and West Hampstead really is a hub. We regularly cover transport and travel news. Follow the #whamptravel tag on Twitter for real-time travel updates.

An area of growth
With a pleasant high street and excellent transport links, it’s no wonder then that property prices have risen and risen. All that railway land means West Hampstead has also been earmarked as an area for intensification by City Hall. What does this mean? At least 800 new homes (in reality, 1,000) over the next few years. The largest single scheme – West Hampstead Square – is being built, a few other smaller developments are also in advanced stages and 156 West End Lane (the “Travis Perkins” site) will contribute a sizeable share of these flats once it is redeveloped.

The car park that links Homebase and the O2 centre is the final piece of the jigsaw and will be a major development although it is very early days for this.

The West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum was set up to give locals some say in how development would occur. It has spent a couple of years finalising its Neighbourhood Development Plan, which will be voted on in a local referendum in the summer of 2015. We offer extensive coverage of all the latest planning and development news and have regular updates on property sales and rental markets.

West Hampstead means business
The growth in the area should be good for local businesses, but it is also likely to mean more competition. The West Hampstead Business Association is a collective group that promotes and improves both the physical and business landscape of the area. Its ultimate goal is to encourage more people to spend more money here, in order to retain and develop West Hampstead’s economy. For more information, including how to join, go to the WHBA website. West Hampstead Life is a member of the WHBA, and of course also covers local business news.

Politics
West Hampstead and Fortune Green was a Lib Dem stronghold up until the 2014 local elections when all but one of the Lib Dem’s six councillors were voted out and replaced by Labour councillors. Kilburn is a Labour ward and Swiss Cottage is Conservative. In the 2015 general election, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq took over from retiring Glenda Jackson as MP for Hampstead & Kilburn, extending Labour’s majority from 42 to 1,138. The seat had been the tightest three-way marginal in the country but the Lib Dem vote collapsed in H&K as elsewhere. We regularly cover politics news, and held hustings for both the local and general elections.

Education
West Hampstead has three primary schools: Beckford, Emmanuel and Kingsgate. There is only one state secondary school; Hampstead School sits right on the far northwest edge of the area virtually in Cricklewood. Education became a hot topic in 2013 with parents from Emmanuel School launching a campaign for a new free school. The application was rejected by the Department for Education. In 2015, Camden council agreed to the expansion of Kingsgate Primary school, opening a new site in Liddell Road on the site of what is today an industrial estate, paid for by building flats on the same site. No suprise then, that education news stories are among some of the most read on the site.

History
People think it’s hilarious to say it’s really just East Kilburn. How we chuckle. Then we send them packing with a flea in their ear and a copy of one of the local history books. It’s true that the borders between Kilburn and West Hampstead have blurred over the years, but they developed as separate places – Kilburn is much older, as most people know the Kilburn High Road is the old Watling Street – a Roman road no less.

West Hampstead was originally “West End” and grew up around West End Green. It was only with the arrival of the Metropolitan Line in the early part of the 20th century that it was renamed West Hampstead in order to avoid confusion with “the” West End.

Over the following years, the various estates that made up what is West Hampstead today were built on and the area was born. For a more detailed history, read this, and for regular articles about local history, head here.

Fame
It’s well known that West Hampstead has its fair share of celebrity residents – Emma Thompson perhaps being the most famous since Stephen Fry moved away a few years ago. The area has always attracted creative types – actors, writers, musicians – rather than the footballers. Most locals don’t bat an eyelid when then bump into Imelda Staunton in the farmers’ market, see Robert Webb in The Alice House, or hold the door open for Bill Nighy at the bookshop. It’s all part and parcel of what makes West Hampstead such a great place to live.

113 on fire on the Finchley Road.  Image thanks to Mark Hutton.

What have you missed since Aug 7th?

Apparently, 42 of us are Lottery millionaires,  in our postcode area. Really National Lottery? Our latest insight was with Ted Booth, the Library ‘writer in residence’. Ted brings poetry to West Hampstead, literally (in all senses). There was a funeral on Quex Road for the leader of the former leader of the GMB, Mary Turner. Jeremy […]

Ted at his desk

An Insight into: Ted Booth

Who is Ted Booth you are asking?  This month’s Insight is a bit different. Instead of interviewing a local business owner, WHL sat down to have a chat with Ted Booth, who is the current writer-in-residence for the Friends of West Hampstead Library. Ted’s a very cool guy but wouldn’t consider himself as such – he’s far too […]

RIP Naz - gone three years, but not forgotten. Image: Naz & Matt foundation

What have you missed since July 31st?

We are entering the summer doldrums, but no silly season here at WHL. There was an acid attack – in West Hampstead. We hope the victim is OK and the perpetrators are caught. Goodbye, Father Andrew. With much sadness West Hampstead is ‘rid of that turbulent priest’ (in the opinion of some, but not us). […]

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Who buried the body? The sad tale of “The Kilburn Mystery”

Pembroke Place was a cul-de-sac of four-roomed houses off Granville Road in South Kilburn. It has long been demolished – today the St Augustine’s sports centre occupies roughly the same site. In the early 20th century, it was described as a mean and congested neighbourhood, where domestic violence often erupted. The properties were so small […]

We love the farmer's market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

Expansion of the Farmers’ market; too much too soon?

London Farmers’ Markets has applied to Camden Council to expand the operating hours of the market that currently pops up on Iverson Road every Saturday. The existing market is popular, so this initially seems like a good idea and LFM has made it very easy for locals to show their support. However, residents who’ve looked […]

And 198 new flats at West Hampstead Square

Housing targets 90 percent fulfilled with 14 years to go!

Last week we looked at job creation in West Hampstead. This week, we turn our attention to housing. In the London Plan 2016, West Hampstead is glamorously referred to as “Area for intensification, number 45”. The original designation dates back to the time Ken Livingstone used to commute to City Hall via West Hampstead and […]

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How rich must you be to afford “affordable” housing?

After many people – including West Hampstead Life – made a fuss about the lack of affordable housing provision in the Liddell Road scheme, Camden promised that the 156 West End Lane scheme would meet the 50% affordable housing quota by floorspace. The development, which was given the go-ahead by the planning committee on Thursday, […]

West Hampstead Square - when will it be finished?

Frustrated buyers face more delays at Ballymore

West Hampstead Square still isn’t finished. As you will have noticed. Progress is being made as recent tweets show but it’s well overdue, and while it’s annoying for locals as the roads clog up with lorries delivering materials, for those who’ve bought apartments (some of whom are existing West Hampstead residents), the delays are going […]

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Liddell Road school to open with spare capacity

Liddell Road has a new name. After much careful thought and consideration it has been renamed, wait for it…, “Liddell Place”. Someone suggested an alternative, but for some reason Camden didn’t like it. Where’s Liddell Road? It’s the former council-owned light industrial estate just off Maygrove Road that’s being redeveloped to house an infants school […]

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Residents concerned over Beckford School road closure plan

Camden Council has announced plans to implement a temporary road closure near a primary school in West Hampstead, angering many local residents. There are public meetings to discuss the proposals this Thursday. The affected area is around Beckford School on Dornfell Street. Camden’s proposal is to close Broomsleigh Street at the Mill Lane end at […]

Photo via Colin Bridgewater

Council listens to Maygrove parking problems

If you’re following the Maygrove Road parking story, then you’ll be interested in this update from MILAM (the local residents association) chair Monica Regli. Monica presented the MILAM deputation on parking and traffic issues to Camden’s environment and cultural scrutiny meeting at the town hall. She says that councillors were largely sympathetic to the problems […]

@NW6resident "Another horrendous morning in Maygrove road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road! Wake up @camdentalking #congestion #help!"

Developments pile pressure on street parking

Some residents of Maygrove and Iverson Roads are fed up with the increasingly difficult parking situation they face in light of all the new developments on these roads. The local residents association, MILAM, wants to see a review of parking hours and is suggesting a sub-zone that has different rules to the CA-Q zone in […]

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Network Rail brings clarity to Black Path

Months of recent community work and lobbying came to some fruition on Tuesday 20th with a site visit to the Black Path and meeting with local residents by representatives from Network Rail, the British Transport Police, Camden Council and the West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Team. They were joined by two very welcome maintenance workers from Network Rail, […]

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Finishing line is in sight as Studio Society nears completion

Sponsored post As 37 Fortune Green Road – aka Studio Society – nears the end of its 8-week build, this 8,000sqft empty space has been transformed into state-of-the-art group exercise studios. As the physical build draws to a close, the technicians are now taking control, installing multiple projectors and creating a floor-to-ceiling cinematic visual experience […]