Local Community Opposes O2 Development Plan by Landsec

Featured

With thanks to O2 Development Residents Action Group & Jason Peacock

“…meaningful contact with ground level events is possible only from the first few floors in a multi-story building. Between the third and forth floor, a marked decrease in the ability to have contact with the ground level can be observed. Another threshold exists between the fifth and sixth floors. Anything and anyone above the fifth floor is definitely out of touch with ground level events.” Jan Gehl Architect

West Hampstead ‘interchange’ was made an ‘intensification’ area in 2015. Since then it has endured uncoordinated planning decisions, conflicting architectural schemes, excessive building heights and increased overcrowding. Existing infrastructure, community services and amenity have all been compromised.

Camden is ranked third in the country for their number of empty properties, there are at least 4,000 unoccupied homes in the borough. In early 2020, Camden set the projected total for the 02 Centre/Sainsbury’s site @ 950 dwellings (two thirds of those consulted opposed even this number). They are said to have ‘co-designed’ these unpopular plans for the 5.7 hectare Landsec site between West End Lane and Finchley Road which will impose1800 flats housing 5000+ new residents without our consent or a matching upgrade/investment in local resources.

To Comment on O2 Sainsbury’s site Application 2022/0528/P

Online link to Camden Council Planning: https://tinyurl.com/Camdenplan

Email or write to planning officer : David.Fowler@camden.gov.uk 5 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG

Reasons to object

The Government’s Guidance on planning decisions says that:‘…the decision must be made in accordance with the development plan unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise’ (taken from Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).

All these considerations – listed below- are valid reasons to object to the Landsec O2 scheme as it stands.

  • Overshadowing
  • Overlooking and loss of privacy
  • Layout and density of building
  • Overbearing nature of the proposal
  • Design and appearance of materials
  • Landscaping
  • Adequacy of infrastructure and /or social facilities
  • Effect on surrounding area (including conservation areas)

Too High & Too Dense

A ‘tall building’ is defined as anything higher than 10 storeys. This development should be limited to 10 storeys under London Plan policy D9.  The area is unsuitable for high rise buildings and the primary benefits of this’new neighbourhood’ of sub-standard architecture – more lin keeping with an office than a residential setting- will go to the developer, Landsec and Camden Council, not to the community.

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, co-founder and director of the Making Cities Livable International Council says, “the construction industry is a powerful engine for fueling economic development. Tall buildings offer increased profits for developers. However, the higher a building rises, the more expensive is the construction. Thus, the tallest buildings tend to be luxury units, often for global investors. Tall buildings inflate the price of adjacent land, thus making the protection of historic buildings and affordable housing less achievable. In this way, they increase inequality.”

The density is abnormally high and significantly exceeds the London Plan Density Matrix even for a site of PTAL 6. Camden, a borough which has produced some of the highest quality homes in the last 50 years, is said in a report that went to cabinet in early March, to have ‘co-designed ‘ this insensitive housing environment.

Impact on Conservation Areas and Heritage Assets

The O2 site is bordered by five conservation areas: South Hampstead Conservation Area; West End Green Conservation Area; Fitzjohns/ Netherhall Conservation Area; Redington/
Frognal Conservation Area; and Belsize Conservation Area. In point 3.2.2 of the FG&WH Neighbourhood Plan it states: ‘The height of new buildings shall have regard to conservation and respect the proportion, scale, massing and rooflines of existing buildings in their vicinity and setting. In all development there shall be a clear presumption in favour of preserving the distinct character and appearance of the Area, as well as the views across it.’

In observations, posted on the O2 planning application, Historic England comments: ‘The buildings on the site are substantially greater than that found within the conservation areas and would appear in some views from within them and out of them.The volume and scale of the development means that there is a harmful impact to designated heritage assets through development within their setting.’

Overbearing height, mass and form + Overshadowing and Loss of light to neighbours

Skylight, sometimes known as diffuse skylight, is diffused all around us even on cloudy days, whilst sunlight is the light which comes directly from the sun on clear days. BRE define daylight as a combination of skylight and sunlight, adding, “The quantity and quality of daylight inside a room will be impaired if obstructing buildings are large in relation to their distance away”. In a British context, skylight is the more important component. A loss of view is not a valid planning objection but the ‘right to light ‘of nearby neighbours to the north of this scheme is protected by the Rights to Light Act 1959.

In conflict with Camden’s Climate Change and Clean Air Action Plan? 

There are sound reasons not to demolish the O2 Centre. In the words of a Camden Council Planning officer: ‘Land Sec will need to demonstrate that the redevelopment of the 02 centre is more sustainable than refurbishing the building. To do this they will need to submit a whole life carbon assessment’. The embodied carbon as energy consumed in manufacturing, delivering and installing the materials to build, and fit-out these buildings over a planned 15 year construction and their disposal at end of life as well as operational carbon associated with electricity, gas and other fuels used for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, hot water, and other electrical equipment must be accounted for.

Construction also has a significant and negative impact on local air quality and potentially public health if it is not carefully managed. Construction activity is responsible for 4% of NO2 emissions, 24% of PM10 emissions and 9% of PM2.5 emissions in Camden.

Increases Pressure on Infrastructure, Utilities and Community Assets

Where is the significant and long overdue increase in medical resources in West Hampstead to reflect the needs of 5000+ new users? NHS England published guidance in February 2018, requiring extended access to GP services, including at evenings and weekends, for 100% of the population by 1 October 2018. Access to basic health and dental care for local residents has diminished not increased.

The area will face more overcrowded pavements,roads, transport and and the loss of all the amenity of the O2 centre, including a large supermarket with 550 parking spaces – none of which can be effectively replicated in this scheme. Without any parking, no large format store to replace the current Sainsbury’s would be viable.

Taking action together – protect West Hampstead.

O2 Development – Needs Improvement

Greater London Planning Report April 2022 – Conclusion

London Plan policies on housing, town centres, social infrastructure, public open space, affordable housing, urban design, strategic views, historic environment, transport, and climate change and the environment are relevant to this application. The application does not yet comply with these policies, as summarised below:

• Land use principles: The comprehensive redevelopment of a highly accessible, under-utilised site, made up of large areas of surface-level retail car parking, between two town centres and within a growth area, for the delivery of new housing and town centre uses, is strongly supported; subject to further consideration of the scale, type, and location of town centre uses. The demolition of the existing O2 Centre has been assessed against Circular Economy principles and parts of the existing substructure could be retained, which is welcome

• Affordable housing: 35% (by habitable room), split 60% London Affordable Rent and 40% intermediate rent within both the Detailed and Outline Phases. The applicant should confirm the affordability of the tenures proposed, and an element of London Living Rent should be considered. Subject to this, meeting all other policy requirements, and investigating grant funding; the proposals may be eligible to follow the fast track viability route.

• Urban design and historic environment: The site is not identified as appropriate for tall buildings and there are concerns that the scale and massing of Outline Phase 3 results in some areas of non-compliance with London Plan Policy D9(C), including ‘less than substantial’ harm to the significance of heritage assets.

The applicant should provide clarification on the height strategy in response to site’s topography, consider means to reduce the level of harm to heritage assets and townscape, and better respond to Policy D9.

The proportion of single aspect homes for the Detailed Phase should be reduced and family-sized removed, and separation distances between homes increased. Parameter Plan and Design Code changes are required.

A revised Fire Statement is required.

• Transport: The move to a car free development in this highly accessible location is strongly supported; however, the potential to facilitate active travel, mode shift, and improved legibility is not yet realised. Improving the accessibility and capacity of public transport, in the context of displaced car trips, increased density, and range of land uses is a priority.

The safeguarding of areas of land for the improvement of adjacent stations is required and discussions are ongoing concerning step free access. Improved bus access and infrastructure must be secured.

• Climate change and environment: Further information is required on energy, whole life carbon, circular economy, green infrastructure, water, and air quality.

Is the O2 Development Safe?

Public Safety and security 

“Feeling safe” was stated as a primary goal in the Safety Zoom Meeting consultation with Landsec before the application was submitted and it’s a key consideration in the design of the O2 buildings, but ‘feeling’ does not mean that residents will be safe on the site.

Statements from the Landsec application 2022/0528/P –

  • “Natural surveillance across the landscape is a core feature within the design with building footprints shifted to increase surveillance over the linear park during the masterplan evolution and ground floor uses (including cafes and retail outlets) offering passive surveillance.
  • Additionally positioning of windows and balconies has been considered to improve natural surveillance over children’s play areas.
  • The main movement networks across the proposals have been designed with clear visibility, lighting and good sight lines alongside the creation of active spaces.”

Much of these aims seem aspirational and the safety and security diagram (shown below) is unhelpful as it fails to show the perspective from or to the ground. In fact, at heights above 5 storeys, sight lines to the ground are diminished and surveillance from that level upwards is unworkable as residents in the buildings will not routinely be at their windows overlooking the public spaces nor will the ground be clearly visible.

This is also true in terms of amenity for families. Parents are likely to be unable or unwilling to supervise children in play areas from balconies in flats on higher floors. In fact, there is evidence from the GLA Planning and Regeneration Committee that: ‘…rooftop play in a tall building is problematic because of microclimatic conditions and difficulty with supervision. In the past the Committee has recommended family sized homes to be located no higher than on 5th storey… and that consideration should be given to design of access and surveillance of children’s play space and amenity space for children, specifically to amplify C1.4.2 in relation to tall buildings.

In case of Emergency?

No systematic patrols are planned and the alarm points are linked not to the police but to a single concierge post on the site, in one building and relying on CCTV. There are hidden, unsupervised corners all over the site which cannot be fully lit and the application Environment statements contain minimum information about this vital safety consideration in a cramped, high rise setting after 11pm at night

Statements from the Landsec application 2022/0528/P – in italics

Environment statement Vol 1

a) 4.11.1 An integrated lighting strategy will ensure that the public realm is safe and accessible after dark. Light levels will be specified in accordance with the relevant standards including BS 5489-1:2013 and ILE Guidance

The latest Crime Statistics for West Hampstead put Violence and Sexual Offences at 20% – second place only to Anti-Social Behaviour. This is an alarming statistic and the Landsec proposal would do well to make more ambitious lighting and security provisions.

 b) “The security of the Proposed Development will benefit from continuous public presence in well-lit, monitored, non-threatening spaces and the provision of a high-quality, well-maintained environment which people respect and in which people behave appropriately.”

Claiming an environment will be ‘well-maintained’, for which no test can be made from this theoretical application, does not alone compel people to ‘behave appropriately’.

c) It is anticipated that the commercial aspects of the Development will close before the Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE) guidance curfew time of 11pm.

If, after 11pm there is no continuous retail activity and it is unlikely to be reliable ‘continuous public presence’ -how will site-wide monitoring be managed? Will contact with services to access urgent or emergency help be prioritised? Will any staff be trained in First Aid?

Fire Safety

The Fire Statement in the application is generic and lacks detailed reference to height but makes a very significant point:

‘All blocks within the buildings are served by single staircases which will be 1200mm wide and are therefore compliant as per guidance in BS 9991’

Detailed Planning Application : first Construction Phase

N3-E, N4 and N5 (coloured dark and light orange and yellow). The N3-E block consists of 10 storeys. The N4 and N5 buildings are each split into four blocks, A-D. The N4 A, B and C plots comprise a single building that has between 9 and 14 storeys (the connection between N4-A and N4-C has 8 storeys. N4-D has 10 storeys. N5 A, C and D plots comprise a single building that have between 9 and 15 storeys (the connection between N5-A and N5-C has 8 storeys. N5-B has 10 storeys.

Landsec’s application is said to conform to BS9991.  This is technically true but short-sighted. The revised edition of BS 9991 Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings, published in draft format in August 2021 proposes significant change to the design of single stair residential buildings.

The smoke ventilation arrangements in case of fire are also of concern. Current guidance states that ‘Residential buildings with a floor level above 18m – (5-6 storeys) with a single stair should be provided with a pressurization system (in accordance with BSEN12101-6), protecting the staircase, firefighting lift shaft and lobby.

The fire safety strategy in the O2 construction uses smoke shafts rather than a pressurization differential system (PDS), ‘to provide smoke ventilation in escape stairs, common lobbies and corridors in residential buildings – as required by Approved Document B and recommended… if the building is residential, taller than 18m and the new draft of BS 9991 is being followed.’ These changes should force building designers to reconsider their approach. Whilst some developments may proceed with a single stair design, provision of a pressurization system would add an extra level of safety that would maintain a smoke free stair in the event of a fire There is no mention of such a system for any of the single staircase buildings in the Hoare Lea fire statement for Landsec’s scheme of 8-16 story towers.

Stay-put

‘Where a stay-put strategy has been designed into a proposal, the Fire Statement should include additional measures that have been engineered and designed into the proposal in the event that either; the asset fails to successfully deliver on the stay-put strategy, or, residents decide to evacuate the building. For this purpose, in addition to recommendations made within the chosen design code(s), further passive and active measures may be provided…the applicant should provide clear details within the Fire Statement. Where lifts have been proposed in a development, London Plan Policy D5 (B5) requires a minimum of one lift per core to be an evacuation lift. The provision of evacuation lifts may be utilized to propose alternative evacuation methods to mitigate the risks involved with any failure of the stay-put strategy.” from the London Plan  – “High-rise residential development proposal with a ‘stay-put’ design strategy

N.B. Thames Water has reported additional concerns about providing even sufficient water pressure on the site for residents. How would resources in a major fire be managed?  There is little detail in the statement in terms of more complex evacuation demands, a secure water supply or access to flats at higher levels should the proposed smoke ventilation fail.

11 Meetings : Who Designed the O2 Development?

From : O2 Masterplan Site, Finchley Road
Volume 1: Environmental Statement – Main Text Chapter 3: Alternatives
Plowman Craven 43284 January 2022

The sequence of the main alternatives, demonstrating the design evolution of the Proposed Development.

suggested LBC feedback in bold

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Meeting 01 – June 2020
At the first pre-application meeting with Camden, AHMM presented an early iteration of the Proposed Development. The main elements were:
• The reduction of the overall site boundary;
• The replacement of a road through the centre of the site with a linear park;
• The introduction of a large public green space at the Western end.
At this stage the principal idea was for a central avenue to run diagonally across the site,
linking West End Lane and Finchley Road and improving connectivity between east and west with a landscaped public thoroughfare

Feedback: Many of the ideas presented were welcomed by the planning officers, however there was a general feeling that there should be further investigation into the masterplan layout to ensure that the several options had been explored. In particular, officers felt that the building forms should have more variation and that the position of the pedestrian thoroughfare should be considered further. The quality and use of public spaces should also be investigated in more detail. It was concluded that the next meeting would be in a workshop format to discuss ideas more widely.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 01 – July 2020
At the first design workshop AHMM presented a series of high level sketch proposals looking at differing approaches to site layouts. The main conclusions from the exercise were:
• To relocate the entrance to the pedestrian link further south on Finchley Road;
• To retain the existing vehicular access on Blackburn Road to allow for a more
complete pedestrian thoroughfare;
• To follow the site’s topography and geometry with the pedestrian route.

Feedback: The exploration of different approaches was welcomed; however, the officers still did not get a sense of the variation of geometries and plot sizes. There were queries regarding the public spaces and how these would feel – particularly that of Blackburn Road.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 02 – September 2020
At the second design workshop AHMM presented more detailed sketch proposals focusing on the quality of public streets and spaces, as well as initial ideas about the building heights.
To take advantage of the potential for sunlight and views from the south facing aspect, the plots were rearranged into a chequerboard-like pattern. Further development gave more
definition to the public spaces with clearly delineated thresholds where the enter the avenue.
Each public space between the building plots extends its character across the avenue to signal their uses, adding to the pleasure of pedestrians on the avenue.
The overall masterplan envisaged:
• A series of pocket parks with unique and specific characters;
• Two large public spaces with defined uses;
• A variety of building sizes and plots;
• Greater permeability along the frontage to Finchley Road.

Feedback: The approach to public realm was welcomed, however officers were not convinced that the public spaces were large enough, with a clear and recognisable hierarchy between them.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 03 – October 2020
At the third design workshop AHMM presented a series of options for the masterplan layouts exploring the position, hierarchy and scale of public spaces.Two options were considered in greater detail, an iteration of the previous proposals, and a new approach which moved the linear (park) The main changes were:
• Rearranging the plots to consolidate the buildings on the north of the site, giving this part greater density while increasing and consolidating the public realm to the south;
• Taking the opportunity this move afforded to create a linear park along the south;
• Preserving the public spaces between the buildings to add area and variety to the public realm.

Feedback: The new approach consolidating the public space to the south of the site was welcomed and it was felt this gave a good sense of hierarchy to the sequence of public spaces.
The scale comparisons were well received and led officers to conclude that those proposed were appropriate in scale for their uses

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 04 – October 2020
At the fourth design workshop AHMM presented a series of small developments to the masterplan.They proposed buildings along the southern boundary, and the eastern and western ends of the site.
Two different approaches to explore the massing of the buildings and their effects on
townscape were also presented, before the workshop concluded with a discussion of residential typologies.
Comments at the previous workshop led to the following amendments of the masterplan:

• Buildings on the site’s southern, eastern and western edge;
• Connections to the east and west;
• More developed designs along Finchley Road to establish a distinctive character for this part of the site;
• Manipulating the public realm to maximise dual aspect accommodation;
• Introducing a corridor for wildlife; and
• Address circulation by looking at building entrances and cyclists’ requirements

Feedback;: The officers broadly welcomed the new iteration of the masterplan while expressing some concern about the loss of permeability and geometric character of the town square.
The work on typologies was appreciated but more information on tenure, unit mix and
resident experience is needed.

In addition:
Exploring the character of each area was also welcomed;
• The studies of typologies made a good start but invited further detail about forms of
tenure, mix of units and the experience residents will have;

Further detail about the nature of the ground floor and the spaces between the
buildings was also sought;

• Blackburn Road and the western part of the site needed more focus; and it was thought inappropriate to have a building to the south of the square.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 05 – October 2020
At the fifth design workshop AHMM presented a focus on residential typologies,
including number and position of dual aspect homes, and the relationship between the
courtyards and the wider public realm as shown on plan and in section.
There were also minor revisions to the masterplan which included reinstating a
triangular public space at the eastern end, while the building to the south of this space was amended to incorporate a lower ground floor mews to activate the southern edge.

Feedback: Responses to points raised at the previous workshop included:
• Improving N5 tenure; • Studies of brick types and the ‘Arts and Crafts’ character of the local area to respond better to the context.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 06 – January 2021
At the sixth design workshop – AHMM presented Design developments to several areas of the masterplan. The building line and massing of the plots in the centre of the site was a particular focus, with amendments to the western edge of Blackburn Road and the street between the Nido and plot N7 also explored in more detail.
The main new features presented were:
• Maintaining the route for cyclists through to Blackburn Road West;
• A preliminary strategy for Blackburn Road to accommodate bins, bicycles and cars
• Massing view from West End Lane;
• Exploration of options for retaining and re-using parts of the 02 Centre;
• Improvements to the linear park to work better for cyclists and pedestrians;
• Defined locations for bus stops;
• Making the courtyards more private and secure for children to play in them. Studies of brick types and the ‘Arts and Crafts’ character of the local area to respond better to the context.

Feedback: Design development of the building line and shoulder height was welcomed;
• Scale and character of the building on the western edge of Blackburn Road was broadly supported;

• More clearly defined purpose of the space between the Nido and plot N7 was sought, to take account of its role as a route and location for buses to turn;
The strategy for the massing was broadly supported though exact heights of individual buildings not agreed, and deferred to the next workshop.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 07 – February 2021
At the seventh design workshop AHMM presented focused on newoptions for massing across the masterplan. Each option contained the same built area and
number of masterplans, though these were massed and distributed differently.
Base option
Massing as presented in the previous workshop.
Linear Option
Reducing the height on buildings on the central plots, and raising heights of those at
either end.
Stepped Massing A
A single tall building at the western end, with height concentrated on the northern side of the
plots.
Stepped Massing B
No tall buildings with height distributed evenly across the site

Feedback : Officers acknowledged that the effect of the options significantly reduced the impact of the development from agreed viewpoints, but believed there needed to be stronger justification for the proposed density in comparison to other schemes in and beyond Camden;
Public benefits offered by the scheme could be taken into account when considering density;
• The overall approach to affordable housing, amount of publicly accessible space, the impact on public transport, education and healthcare provision needed clarification;
• Any tall building should not be within the square;
• The horizontal expression of the facades on the three central plots gained positive
comments, though variation would be required;
• Strategies for distributed height generally appeared to be logical;
• The scale and character of Blackburn Road was well received;
• The corner of Blackburn Road needed clearer definition.


LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-ap Workshop 08 – March 2021
At the eight design workshop AHMM presented a significant revision to the
Masterplan.The principal points were:
Altering the geometry along Finchley Road and reinforcing the junction between Finchley and Blackburn Roads;
Re-aligning the corner of Finchley and Blackburn Roads allows two blocks to be located closer to Finchley Road and to be longer;
Framing the central terrace on Finchley Road & Shortening the crescent along the south eastern part of the site;
Remove the cruciform shape from the plan and adjust the building geometries accordingly;
Resize the plots to add a fourth courtyard block;
Add townhouses to the southern courtyards;
Remove the building on the south side of the community green so the linear park flows into it;
Increase the size of the northern building on the green to create a larger and more flexible plot

Feedback: A broad welcome to the reduction in height and massing, though some of the moves made to achieve this were regarded as detrimental to the overall masterplan;
• A preference for the previous scheme at the eastern and western edges of the site;

• A request for more space between the blocks;
• A request to know how much of the open space is fully accessible to the public;
• Public space N7 needs a purpose;
• The possibility of community uses in the first phase was raised;
• The apparently regimented character of the central section caused concern and needed more work;
• Introduced splayed blocks, further development of housing typologies and increasing the number of dual aspect homes was appreciated;
• The proposed height at the eastern end seemed to work, though not on Finchley Road.
Variation in height should be introduced;
• Accessibility of the courtyards needed clarification.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 09 – May 2021
At the ninth design workshop AHMM presented further revisions to the masterplan addressing comments on previous iterations were set out at this workshop:
1 Eastern and western edges of the scheme to revert to iteration prior to version presented in workshop 08;
2 Spaces between buildings enlarged by inflecting the plots to exploit the varying widths of these spaces;
3 A new open space in the centre of the site (the central square) provides respite and adds variation to the linear park;The green space at the western end of the site increased by straightening the western edge of plot N5;
4 Taller buildings removed from Finchley Road;
5 Great height and density concentrated around the town square, off Finchley Road;
6 More variety to the heights along the linear park;
7 Treating each building as an object in a park creates more breathing space along the
linear park;
8 Slight increase in height at the corner towards the west.

Feedback: Officers were generally comfortable with the level and disposition of higher buildings, subject to review during design development;
Heights at the eastern end of the site were also comfortable, but there needed to be a
more direct architectural relationship between the plots of the northern edge of the
square and those along its southern and eastern edges;
• Re-orientating the building at the back of the new square (where’s that?) would define
the square better;
• Detail sought as to how the linear park would feel safe and its southern side activated;
• Possibility raised of a direct link between Finchley Road Underground station and the
development;
• Plot N7 discussed as a possible bus turnaround but it still needs a clearer purpose.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 10 – July 2021
At the tenth design workshop AHMM presented further revisions to the masterplan to take account of comments on previous iterations:
1 Shape of plot N7 amended to create a larger shared surface and to become a more generous and obvious destination at the end of Blackburn Road;
2 Gaps introduced to the eastern wing of plot N5 and the western wing of N4, increasing the number of dual aspect apartments, break down the length of the façade and introduce variety to the buildings along the linear park;
3 Plot N3E at the rear of the central square reorientated to make a more generous space and to define its northern edge;
4 Investigating a finer building grain to plots N1 and N2, in keeping with southern side of the town square, and to differentiate this plot from those in the residential neighbourhoodd. 5.Introducing gaps between the buildings allows the building edges on the linear park to
be slightly lowered;
6 Building on plot N7 rises slightly so infill units can be removed;
7 Massing on buildings on plots N1 and N2 made closer to that on S1 with pitched roofs.

Feedback: Officers were generally content with the revisions proposed at this workshop, subjectto further review during design development.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-ap Workshop 11 – September 2021
At the eleventh design workshop AHMM presented, Progressing designs from the broad brush of master planning to the detailed architecture of the buildings.
Detailed site studies showed how these designs would tie into the most significant existing buildings.
Presenting a range of possible ‘elements’ for the plots if taken to the greatest level of detail allowed different solutions to be tested as the base for a strong architectural language and narrative to run through the entire project.

Feedback: High quality public realm throughout the site would make its high density and large scale acceptable;Either reducing overall height or outstanding benefits needed to justify the ‘less than substantial harm’ judgement of the impact on neighbouring conservation areas;
Architectural approach to phase 1 (identify plots) broadly welcomed, subject to reinstate the splays on the buildings, and lowering the height of buildings adjacent to the open space;
• Officers had concerns about various aspects of the proposed residential accommodation, including their aspects, distance between them, amount of daylight they receive, variety and balance of the typologies proposed and their connections to open space;
• Accordingly, number of dual aspect units to be significantly increased;
• Mixture of uses along the linear park encouraged
to maintain its character as a park rather than becoming a route;
• Bus turning point and Blackburn Road need further design development;
Health Centre must be provided as part of phase 1.

O2 Development- Information & Sample Letters for Objections

The O2 proposals include 15+ closely-spaced towers between 10 and 15 storeys high. Construction will begin with three buildings-605 dwellings- at the centre of the site with outline planning consent for the rest of the site –over the next 15 years. 

See Application Documents here: https://tinyurl.com/y9v96wyu

Send your objections as soon as possible, by email to the Planning Officer, David Fowler: David.Fowler@camden.gov.uk

Below are example letters and points which you are welcome to cut and paste in your objection – Please do comment on this application. The closing date has been extended beyond the summer.

Example Objection – Letter 1

I disapprove of this application 2022/0528/P and wish to object on the basis that:

The development, is a destructive over-development of the site – 6x Camden average density.

The heights of the towers are out of keeping with the surrounding landscape and conservation areas.

It brings  4500-5000 new residents to the area – which existing infrastructure cannot sustain.

All the flats are for rent with the minimum @ affordable rates. They are not homes but dormitories for a transient population.

West End Lane & Finchley Road tube stations have no step- free access, are heavily congested at peak times with already-overcrowded trains. There is no guarantee that new access arrangements will be part of this development.

The loss of the O2 centre, a community hub providing a large well-supported supermarket Sainsbury’s and many social benefits – is damaging for the integration and resilience of our established neighbourhood .

Demolishing the O2 Centre itself, with the removal of all short-term shopper parking and a piecemeal rebuilding of smaller versions of some of its amenities, will generate additional carbon emissions, fragmented community resources and increased traffic disruption in the surrounding area.

Please refuse this application.

Example objection – Letter: 2

I am writing to raise strong objections to the proposed application 2022/0528/P for the redevelopment of the O2 Centre.

Like many other local residents, I have legitimate concerns about the density of high-rise tower blocks being proposed, when the local area has been subjected to an onslaught of development over the last few years resulting in already over- crowded pavements, public transport, shops, community facilities such as doctors surgeries, dentists, etc

No one seems to be listening to the local residents and the tireless objections being raised. The response from the developer is to attempt to bulldoze the scheme through regardless of tlocal objections. Camden emphasise the need for ‘housing’ but co-design this ‘new neighbourhood’ – cramped, for-profit high rise buildings.overshadowing ‘wind tunnel’ paths and token ‘green spaces’.

  • little consideration given to the need to upgrade infrastructure BEFORE development.
  • little consideration given to the pressure already on community facilities and medical services.
  • little consideration to the amount of flats empty, or buy-to-leave in other tower blocks built over the last few years.
  • no consideration given to the fact that the there’s already a development of flats underway on the old Travis Perkins site on West End Lane, and the impact of this on local services and resources.

Please refuse this application.

Some Other Points:
The developer has sacrificed ALL car parking for more flats and Camden Council are enforcing a no-car policy throughout the borough yet this proposal does away with a DIY store, supermarket, gym, cinema etc which many residents can currently walk to. Those with heavy shopping, the elderly or people with children need to be able to drive and park.

Camden must think again, not just prioritise ‘box-ticking’ to meet the government arbitrary house building quotas or Section 106 and CIL payments but about what human beings need for a healthy, meaningful environment- open green space, community facilities, reliable infrastructure, supermarkets, daylight/sunlight and quality design.

The equally harmful recent development proposals for Murphys Yard near Dartmouth Park/Kentish Town received 1500+ objections. It’s planning application was withdrawn by the developer.  Can we achieve a similar show of disapproval for the O2 Centre proposals. 

The following websites give a good overview on how to object, and the best grounds on which to object, in terms of planning considerations that Camden planners must pay regard to.

1) The local Councillors’ website,

2) The RedFrog association website,