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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Strange things have been happening in the world of tomato ketchup. First, upon requesting some whilst enjoying a magnificent fish & chips in The Beehive, Crawford Street, the waitress apologised that they didn’t have any ketchup, “however we do have this…”, she said, before disappearing for a moment and returning with several sachets of sauce […]
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 […]
Gondar Gardens – the old reservoir site in the northern reaches of West Hampstead – has had more than its fair share of development proposals over the past few years. Some have been rejected – even on appeal – and some have been accepted. Yet nothing has actually been built. The most recent decision was […]
Our last Insight focused on one man with two businesses. This time we’re talking to two women who run one business: Kate Rader and Clare Emburey who run Achillea, the florist on Mill Lane. What brought you to West Hampstead? Clare: We actually met at the tomato stall at Queen’s Park market. Kate, who has known […]
John Padalino runs not one but two local businesses – and they are next door to each other. Rock Men’s Salon and Wired Coffee on Broadhurst Gardens. If you don’t know them already, they are a couple of the ‘hipper’ businesses here, but with a mix of typical West Hampstead customers. What brought you West […]
During the 1930s, Soviet intelligence recruited a group of young, idealistic Cambridge students who saw themselves supporting Communism against the spread of Fascism. After university, they held important posts in the Foreign Office and the Intelligence Service and passed secret information to the Soviets. They were not discovered until 1951 when two of them – […]
Yes, it’s not just any store opening, it’s an M&S Foodhall opening. Sorry. No doubt some West Hampstead residents (especially those living south of the railway) are counting down the days until the shop opens on February 22nd at West Hampstead Square. As part of its customer engagement, M&S and its contractors Wates offered a […]
It’s been a long-time coming. La Brocca closed its doors in June 2015, but its replacement – Bobby Fitzpatrick’s – opens tonight. Bobby’s owners, ULG (who also run The Gallery and The Alice House), have opted for a louche 70s theme for the new bar. West Hampstead Life was – of course – at the […]
The Sherriff Centre, which opened in 2014, has settled in well and is now one of the most popular features of the area – especially with parents. It was, and still is, a church, but after some extensive internal modernisation it now offers a host of community facilities: a post office and shop, a café with […]
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 […]
The reason West Hampstead seems inundated with new developments is that it was designated a “Growth Area” by City Hall. The Growth Area is specifically the part of West Hamsptead around the railway lines. Targets were set for 800 new homes and 100 new jobs between 2010 and 2031. Yes, 2031. Seven years in, we […]
After a lengthy debate in the council chamber on Thursday, the Labour-dominated planning committee voted 11-2 in favour of the proposed development of 156 West End Lane – the Travis Perkins building. The plan is for 164 residential units along with some retail, office and community space. Four of our local councillors sit on the […]
Local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq could face an uphill battle to retain her seat if plans to redraw constituency boundaries come into effect. The Boundary Commission has published proposals, at the request of the government, to reduce the overall number of MPs from 650 to 600 and to more evenly balance the size of constituencies in […]
Camden has released more details of the Brexit vote. The results are not strictly ward based (the count was organised in this way for reasons of accuracy) as postal votes were allocated randomly and evenly per ward. With that caveat, the percentage vote in favour of remain in the the local wards was: Hampstead Town 79.72% […]
West Hampstead is a very civic-minded area and last night The Sherriff Centre in St James’s Church held a hustings on whether Britain should stay in the European Union. The audience of about 60-80 people was generally respectful and let everyone speak. A republican debate on Fox news it was not. Each side also had […]
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, […]
Tenants will be delighted at the announcement last week that administrative fees to tenants are to be banned, effective immediately. Whether costs to landlord might increase as a result is yet to be seen. Our view is that anything that can be done to improve transparency in our business has got to be positive. Flushing […]
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 […]
West Hampstead became a little less colourful last week. Ironically, it was with handwritten note not something printed that Colour Division announced last week that it was closing. It will be missed. Colour Division was not just one of the longest standing business in the area (it was set up in the mid-70s, under Edward […]
The rapid rise of the West Hampstead Square towers is the most visible sign of change in the neighbourhood, but the retail landscape is changing fast too. Foxtons in, Mamacita and Social out, Holistic… no-one seems quite sure. Most of the changes are happening on the strip of West End Lane bookended by Tesco and […]
Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday – a government-backed initiative set up to support small businesses of all kinds in the all-important run-up to Christmas. Conveniently, this year, it falls on the same day as the West Hampstead Christmas Market, so December 6th will be the perfect day for festive shopping with some refreshments along the way […]
Local actor Jim Carter, best known for playing Carson the butler in Downton Abbey, broke all records at West Hampstead Library on Wednesday night by drawing the biggest crowd for a Friends of West Hampstead Library event since Stephen Fry in 2001. The “house full” notice went up at 7.30pm, just as the event started. […]
Kids are in their element when playing sport. Running around with their teammates, safety is often an afterthought in the excitement of a live game. Parents have to be especially vigilant when their kids are playing contact sports, and though children’s orthodontics may not be at the front of many parents’ minds, thinking about it […]
If you live on, or walk or drive down Fawley Road then you won’t have failed to notice the leak that’s been spewing water down the street for the past week. It’s not the only one – Achilles Road and West End Lane also have leaks – harking back to the time a few years […]
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 […]
Sponsored post Today’s economy is properly digital. Many of us spend all day at a computer and then come home to order groceries online, chat with friends online and research a good plumber online. It takes a huge amount of infrastructure to keep all those businesses ticking and to keep improving them as our expectations […]
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 […]
It’s that time of year again; time to start thinking about undoing some of the damage from treating ourselves a little too much over the festive season. For all those times we said, ‘Oh go on then, it’s Christmas after all!’ Now your clothes are a little uncomfortable and you seem to have grown a […]
Inspired by Team GB’s Olympic hockey success (the first ever gold for the women’s team), time to remind you all that there’s a hockey club on your doorstep. I’ve played at every level of hockey from junior to international and West Hampstead Hockey Club is the best club I’ve ever been involved with. There are 15 teams; […]
Tired of pounding the pavements alone? Inspired to put on your trainers by the heroics of the GB athletes in Rio? Or just curious as to why you always see a gaggle of neon-clad souls on West End Green every Saturday morning? Well wonder no more! Started on a cold wet February morning in 2015, […]