Dismore enraged by scheme to flog off Royal Free key worker housing

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore has expressed his “fury” at plans by the Royal Free NHS Trust to turn Queen Mary’s House, which currently provides affordable housing to 52 nurses, into luxury homes.

The more-than 100-year old building was a gift from Lord Leverhulme to the Queen Mary Needlework Guild, which was set up during the First World War to provide clothes to servicemen. Funds from the guild were then used to provide a maternity home to wives of servicemen in the building. It later became a centre for the care of the elderly, before becoming a home for nurses.

The Trust are marketing the 1.6 acre site as “the last major development site in Hampstead with an unrivalled position between the heath and Hampstead Village” and

plans to convert the site into 162 luxury flats in four five-storey blocks with underground car parks. The three-bedroom penthouse flats could sell for up to £10m each. They put the total sale value of the scheme at about £280m.

The website, tells potential builders they do not need to worry about affordable housing lowering the tone of the development as the legally required affordable units can be housed in a separate development on the main hospital site.

Mr Dismore said:

‘I am absolutely appalled at this news on many levels. I have been campaigning for more keyworker housing in London for many years; And have just managed to secure the restoration of cottages behind West Hampstead Fire Station for keyworker housing. The Royal Free Trust are treating their own staff with contempt with this dreadful scheme. Nurses are not well paid as it is, and I do not know how the Royal Free intend to recruit nursing staff when local housing is totally unaffordable to them. Given the shift patters nurses work, it is vital that they do have somewhere local to live.

‘The contempt the developers seem to have for those who live in affordable housing is also deeply offensive and unacceptable. I am absolutely outraged by this scheme and I will be writing to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asking him to refuse any applications for this site.’