The busy West Hampstead tube station is to get step-free access after Camden council approved a large housing development which will include funding for transport upgrades in the area.

The O2 Centre development will see a large space of underused land that sits between West Hampstead and Finchley Road tube stations being redeveloped as a large housing estate. LandSec owns the O2 shopping centre on Finchley Road and most of the land behind it, which is mostly a large car park and some businesses, and they want to replace that with housing and a new shopping centre.

The development has not been without controversy though, with complaints that it won’t meet Camden Council’s own policies on affordable housing provision or open spaces. At a sometimes fractious planning meeting last night (Thur 30th March), Camden Council approved the development by a vote of 7 to 3 in favour to cries of “shame, shame, shame” from the audience in the room.

Part of the approval requires a capacity upgrade at West Hampstead tube station, which will include step-free access and provision to be reserved for the same to be added later at Finchley Road tube station.

The approved development – source, planning documents

West Hampstead station is on the Jubilee line, with a single island platform and stairs up to the street. It’s a very busy station though as it’s just a short walk from the local London Overground and Thameslink stations, so is a major interchange between the various services.

There’s long been a desire to add step-free access to the station, but it’s a difficult site to work with being hemmed in on both sides and having a narrow entrance and platform. The planning approval sees Landsec providing £10 million towards upgrades at West Hampstead tube station and safeguarding land for a future although currently unfunded, step-free entrance for Finchley Road station.

There will also be improvements to the public realm in the area, including improved pavements, cycling and bus stands.

Although the developer had tried to argue that increased passenger use at the stations would be lower than TfL usually assumes, the council sided with TfL and agreed that West Hampstead station would likely see at least a ten percent increase in passengers. The station’s fairly small entrance and stairs are straining to cope at the moment, and would likely not cope with more passengers, especially in the rush hours.

The exact details of how the £10 million will be spent are still to be worked out though, and there’s some uncertainty about whether TfL would need to buy a builder’s depot on the northeastern side of the station to provide a second entrance for the station.

The second entrance, apart from adding step-free access would be closer to the new housing development, and help to reduce congestion at the existing entrance and could be tied into planned upgrades of an existing footbridge across the railway next to the suggested new entrance.

Although the small print is to be completed, it’s expected that Landsec will be required to make its £10 million payment early, and almost certainly prior to phase 2 of the development starting.

Phase 2 is also the area of the development closest to West Hampstead station, so the station upgrade could be delivered before people move into the area.

Alex Williams, TfL’s Chief Customer and Strategy Officer, said: “We are committed to making travel in London easier and more accessible for everyone, and continue to engage with LandSec and Camden Council to ensure that the proposed development at the O2 Centre at Finchley Road takes into account any impact on the local transport network. We will continue to support the Council by progressing accessibility and capacity improvements to West Hampstead Underground station. We are also pleased that a substantial financial contribution towards delivering this has been included in the planning permission, as well as safeguarding future improvements to Finchley Road station and also delivering a range of walking and cycling improvements around the new development.”

Although funding was not required to upgrade Finchley Road station, an agreement was made to preserve land to one side of the station where a second entrance with step-free access could be added at a later date, and the details of that will be agreed later when the development of the houses starts next to the station.

Mike Hood, CEO of Landsec’s regeneration arm said: “As long-term investors in the local area we want to contribute to its long-term success. By working with the Council and the local community we hope to repay the faith they have shown in us to shape a thriving and sustainable neighbourhood.”

Now that Camden Council has approved the planning application, it needs to be passed to the Mayor of London for final clearance.

The approved development – source, planning documents


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: , ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. Basil Jet says:

    About twenty years ago, the developer of the former Guinness site at Park Royal was required to build Central Line platforms for Park Royal Station before they opened Phase 2. Only Phase 1 ever happened… the Central Line platforms, pictures of which even appeared on a hoarding, were never built at all.

    It is not obvious that phase 2 of this project will ever happen, it might just be vapourware to trick people into thinking station improvements will happen eventually. The headline of this article should read “West Hampstead tube station might get step-free access”

    • ianVisits says:

      I’ve been covering this story for several years – if you have evidence that phases 2 and 3 are unlikely to be built, then naturally I would be very interested in seeing it.

      Until then, the headline remains.

    • MilesT says:

      Ian–in the large pack of documents made available for the planning meeting on the 30th, I refer you to the following

      What follows is an extract to an independently funded study into the proposal from a collective of local neighbourhood associations

      ===Extract starts===
      BPS Chartered Surveyors did a financial feasibility report on the O2 scheme. They conclude:
      “We do have some legitimate concerns concerning scheme delivery, noting our conclusions that the scheme is in substantial technical financial deficit. We recommend
      that affordable housing delivery is secured within the earlier phases of the development (agreed by way of binding S106) so its provision is not open to subsequent
      challenge in its later stages due to scheme viability.”

      CONCLUSION: Considering that Landsec just reported a £192 million loss for the half year and the opinion of BPS above, there is a good chance Landsec will deliver less than
      half of the affordable housing promised. Two-thirds of the affordable flats (including half of the low-cost/social housing) will not be built until Phases II and III. (See Landsec Affordable Housing Statement, p. 18.) Camden will be helpless to do anything as it cannot afford to sue.
      === Extract ends ===

      Note also that earlier in the same document the GLA also responded with what I interpret as a “soft” warning about potential viability.

      There is also some local form on this issue, where work on 100 Avenue road (the Swiss Cottage gyratory) has ceased due to ongoing dispute on financial viability of affordable provision. One can only hope that Camden Planning committee are smart enough this time to require suitable completion bonds/site remediation bods and early payments of S106 and similar moneys.

      Local neighbourhood associations will be exploring all available routes to continue the object to the scheme, including reference to Secretary of State, Michael Gove.

      And part of the scheme, near West Hampstead station, is likely to be subject to legal challenge due to the potential extinguishing or a prior (although incomplete), planning consent from Builder Depot, who wish to expand on their site which was where their business was originally founded.

      The plans are also subject to an additional GLA approval.

  2. Tom says:

    Incredible that anyone could object to a plan to turn what is essentially an enormous car park in the middle of prime zone 2 London real estate into housing. Glad to see the council use common sense and ignore NIMBYs with too much time on their hands. For once the architectural renderings don’t look dreadful either!

    • Gary says:

      When you’ve got a family you’ll understand why a large supermarket and carpark is needed.
      Unlike yet more, higher building like here, that was something approaching open space.

    • ChrisC says:

      People are allowed to object just as people have the write to send in supportive comments,

      It’s the job of the planning officer and then the elected councillors on the committee to assess them to test whether the application will be passed or refused.

      What matters is the quality of the objections in terms of planing policy and not their numbers.

      A single objection based on planning policy will have far more influence than thousands of “don’t like it”

      And given how the government has skewed planning law to a presumption applications will pass the paths to rejection are limited. And a rejection will likely yield an appeal to an inspector with zero scope to negotiate any concessions from the developer.

  3. Alex ‘4D’ Gollner says:

    The transport assessment document by Ove Arup that is one of the documents includes outline plans for multiple options to provide alternative access to both West Hampstead and Finchley Road stations. These include detailed plans with assessment of each option.

    Also included is an old architectural plan of Finchley Road station from 1939 that includes a signature by Frank Pick!

Home >> News >> Transport News