This is a letter from me published in the Ham & High on 2 April 2015.
I congratulate Camden for following Kensington & Chelsea’s lead by introducing a ban on mega-basements. For regular readers of these pages, it must seem as though there’s a never-ending fight against inappropriate basement excavations: whether 29 New End, 9 Downshire Hill, or 8 Pilgrims Lane. The latest in that battle is Grove Lodge, on Admiral’s Walk.
The arguments against mega-basements are well-rehearsed. But in addition to the deleterious effect on neighbouring buildings and the water table, most of Hampstead is a conservation area, due as much to its heritage as its aesthetics. Admiral’s Walk sits at the heart of that heritage: immortalised by Constable and within a stone’s throw of fifteen listed buildings. Indeed, the Grove Lodge application would demolish an extension built by Nobel laureate John Galsworthy. Such applications shred our community’s character.
I hope Camden’s mega-basement ban is strong enough to prevent the kind of development we’re seeing at Grove Lodge. But it is exactly the sort of application that would be blocked by the Hampstead Forum’s impending Neighbourhood Plan – a mechanism introduced by this government to give local residents control over planning. Sadly, until the Plan and Camden’s mega-basement ban come to fruition, it seems that we’ll have more unwanted, inappropriate developments to fight against to keep Hampstead special.
For more about my campaign to oppose over-development, click here.