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Archdeacon of Hampstead opposes council plans to rebuild estate behind Gospel Oak church

14:30 05 April 2013

St Martin's Church in Gospel Oak

St Martin's Church in Gospel Oak

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

The Archdeacon of Hampstead went toe-to-toe with Camden Council last week when he objected to their plans to rebuild a council estate in Gospel Oak because it will block the light to a church next door.

Last Thursday Camden Council gave the go-ahead to rebuild the Bacton Low Rise estate, which sits between Haverstock Road, Wellesley Road and Vicars Road, a scheme which will provide more than 200 families with new flats.

The final plans will now go on to the Greater London Authority to be formally approved.

But Fr Luke Miller, the Archdeacon of Hampstead, launched an objection to the plans, which include an eight-storey block, claiming it would block the light that floods into the hall of the Grade I-listed St Martin’s Church in Vicars Road.

In his objection to the scheme, summarised in the council’s planning report, Fr Miller said: “The west window is of great importance to the listed church, its design allowing natural light to flood in and illuminate the important interior.

“Under the new proposal, the west window will face the wall rather than a corner of a building.

“This will have a significant effect on the lighting and quality of the interior.”

He added: “The windows are part of the listing and to interfere with their operation is to compromise a Grade I-listed building.”

Fr Miller added that conditions in the current estate in Bacton Low Rise and “clearly inadequate” and “the Church is keen to work with the council on the regeneration of the area.”

The residents’ association at Bacton Low Rise has branded the estate “uninhabitable” and “decrepit”, and in previous years inspections have noted the buildings have poor heating and suffer from mould, while residents face persistent antisocial behaviour issues, in part because of the crumbling surroundings.

Making a plea for the new scheme to go ahead, Sarah Robins of the Bacton Low Rise Residents’ Association, told the committee: “Some, if not all [families in the estate] suffer huge bills, which has placed some of the families at the financial disadvantage of being forced into fuel poverty because of ongoing disrepair issues to their houses.”

Camden’s cabinet member for housing has said that the buildings need too many repairs and a rebuild would be cheaper and more beneficial to residents.

After the decision was made, Fr Miller told the Ham&High: “We want to support this development to best serve the needs of the local community and are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the council and developers to help achieve this.”

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