West Hampstead – spreading from Fortune Green down to Belsize Road – has a population of more than 30,000, of whom 40% are aged 25-39.
The local economy
During the day, the area’s high number of home workers, many of whom are in the creative industries, keep the high street busy, while at weekends the popular farmers’ market draws large crowds. The area has a lively nighttime economy with bustling bars and restaurants on West End Lane and Broadhurst Gardens in particular.
The area has retained a healthy number of independent businesses, especially on Mill Lane where rents are lower and there’s a strong community feel. On West End Lane, there’s a good mix of independents and multiples – with two metro format supermarkets, and a Waitrose on its way. Fortune Green has a Tesco metro, and independent shops and cafés, while Broadhurst Gardens has some niche shops – a cigar shop, a violin shop, and a specialist chocolate shop, for example.
No-one can escape the myriad estate agents that run the length of West End Lane; property is big business in West Hampstead thanks to the outstanding transport links that whisk commuters to the city or Canary Wharf, or to St Pancras for those Paris meetings.
For their “big shop”, locals tend to go to either the large Sainsburys or large Waitrose on the Finchley Road, which is a walk away for all but those living at the far western fringes of the area.
People permanently decry the lack of a butcher and although there is a fishmonger it’s wholesale only most of the week. More variety of restaurants would please some – there’s a surfeit of pizza places for example – and a growing number of south-east Asian restaurants.
West Hampstead is an “area for intensification“, which means more flats (largely along the railway lines), which means more people. It’s important that the local businesses have a voice in the planning of these developments to ensure that the commercial premises meet the needs of the economy.