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Backlash over bid to build ‘monster’ megablock on Maida Vale garage site once owned by Dire Straits frontman

PUBLISHED: 17:21 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:30 22 November 2017

More than 130 people have objected to a developer's bid to build a seven storey block of flats on land which once belonged to Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. Picture: GOOGLE

More than 130 people have objected to a developer's bid to build a seven storey block of flats on land which once belonged to Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. Picture: GOOGLE

Archant

A developer’s bid to build a seven storey block of flats on land once owned by Dire Straits rock group frontman Mark Knopfler has been greeted with uproar among neighbours.

The Widley Road site has been earmarked for 23 homes in a planning application which has sparked more than 130 objections with residents of the Maida Vale street and surrounding area fearing threats to their privacy, overshadowing and property values.

Laura Brown, who estimated her Essendine Road home would be two metres away from the ‘horrific’ development, said: “It’s going to be a monster of a building. It’s atrocious. We’re a really close-knit community and this has just been really tough for us to swallow.”

Mum of two Mrs Brown, 49, slated ‘Romeo and Juliet’ balconies included in the design which she said meant people would see into her bedroom and that of her teenage daughter.

“I will be able to pass the new neighbours hamburgers when I’m having barbecues they’d be so close,” she said.

And nearby Shirland Road resident Claire McConway cited fears basement digging could damage her home’s foundations in her own objection.

According to the land registry the site of an Art Deco 1930s garage – used in the past as a petrol station and antique car hire office – was registered to the 80s singer songwriter but was bought by developer Widley Limited in June for £7million.

A Widley spokesman disputed residents’ criticisms the firm had not listened to their concerns saying it carried out wide engagements over the course of this year, organising two public consultations.

He added the scheme had been changed to account for comments from the community including addressing privacy issues and ensuring trees were spared in the conservation area.

Widley’s plans also include 12 off-road parking spaces with three more spaces created on the street.

But Mrs Brown, whose nine-year-old son and daughter, 14, have filed objections to the development along with her, described plans for 15 parking spaces for 23 flats as ‘insane’.

However, the spokesman defended the plan: “We are providing affordable housing on-site and believe the development will make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood and to Westminster.”

On Widley’s changes to their original plan cllr Rita Begum said: “These amendments change little and do not go far enough to address the issues raised by ourselves and residents during the original consultation.

“I will be speaking against the proposal when it comes to planning committee later this year,” she added.

Planning officers are now considering the plan with a decision still to be made.

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