Hampstead Garden Suburb

Hampstead Garden Suburb was founded by Henrietta Barnett, who, with her husband, Samuel, had started the Whitechapel Art Gallery and Toynbee Hall. In 1906, Henrietta set up the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd, which purchased 243 acres of land from Eton College for the scheme and appointed Raymond Unwin as its architect.

Among the scheme's aims were the following:

  • It should cater for all classes of people and all income groups.
  • There should be a low housing density.
  • Roads should be wide and tree-lined.
  • Houses should be separated by hedges, not wall.
  • Woods and public gardens should be free to all.
  • It should be quiet, with no church bells.

This required a private bill before Parliament, as it was counter to local bylaws. The provisions of the new act allowed less land to be taken up by roads and more by gardens and open spaces.

The ideas for the "Garden Suburb" were clearly based on the ideas and experience of Parker and Unwin in the planning and development of Letchworth Garden City, the first development of its kind, inspired by the work of Ebenezer Howard. Other consultant architects involved with the Hampstead development include George Lister Sutcliffe and John Soutar.

However, with no industry, no public houses and few shops or services, the suburb, unlike the garden cities, made no attempt to be self-contained. In the 1930s the "Suburb" (as it is known by locals) expanded to the north of the A1. While more characterful than most other suburban housing, some of the housing to the north is considered, overall, of less architectural value.

On Central Square, laid out by Sir Edwin Lutyens, there are two large churches, St. Jude's Church and The Free Church, as well as a Quaker meeting house. There are two mixed state primary schools in the Suburb; Garden Suburb and Brookland. There is also a state girls' grammar school, Henrietta Barnett School.

The school used to house The Institute, an adult education centre, but most of The Institute has now moved to accommodation in East Finchley, opposite the tube station, with the opening of a new purpose-built arts centre. Shops and other services are provided in the shopping parades of Market Place and Temple Fortune, with Golders Green and East Finchley, within walking distance, for those who live at either end. Little Wood houses an open air arena, which is used for summer theatrical performances.

Despite the founders' intentions, the steep increases in house prices across London, combined with the continual expansion of the Greater London area and the very small proportion of housing association housing, means that Hampstead Garden Suburb is now considered to be one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust

Freehold houses, flats and commercial premises on the Suburb are subject to a scheme of management approved pursuant to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 by an Order of the Chancery Division of the High Court, dated 17 January 1974, as amended by a further Order dated 17 February 1983.

The HGS Trust whose aim is to protect the character and amenity of the Suburb operates the scheme from an office in the Suburb on Finchley Road. Freeholders are required to get the prior approval of the Trust before altering the external appearance of their properties. Consent is also required for significant changes to gardens, erection of garden sheds and the felling or pruning of trees. The Trust is also the freeholder of the majority of the remaining leasehold property on the Suburb, which is mostly held on very long leases.

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