Local Community Opposes O2 Development Plan by Landsec

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 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 the loss of all the amenity of the O2 centre, including a large supermarket with 520 parking spaces – none of which can be effectively replicated in this scheme. Without any parking, no large format store in place of the current Sainsbury’s would be viable.

Taking action together – Protect West Hampstead.

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