Hampstead and Highgate facing ‘planning apocalypse’ amid biggest upheaval in history

06:00 03 July 2014

Highgate Society vice-president Michael Hammerson and Heath and Hampstead Society trustee Douglas Maxwell face a legal battle over the future of Athlone House (pictured). Picture: Polly Hancock

Highgate Society vice-president Michael Hammerson and Heath and Hampstead Society trustee Douglas Maxwell face a legal battle over the future of Athlone House (pictured). Picture: Polly Hancock


An onslaught of development battles poses the greatest threat to the landscape of Hampstead and Highgate in history according to two prominent conservation societies – in what has been dubbed a “planning apocalypse”.

Major development proposals:

- Hampstead Heath dams project

- High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link

- Athlone House in Highgate

- Former Highgate Garden Centre on the Highgate Bowl

- South End Green Sainsbury’s supermarket, Hampstead

- Haringey Magistrates’ Court and Highgate Police Station

- Royal Free Hospital medical research centre, Hampstead

- Swain’s Lane shopping parade, Highgate

- 100 Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage

A flood of controversial planning proposals unveiled this week, on top of ongoing fights over Athlone House, the Hampstead Heath dams project and HS2, have prompted the bleak warning from the Heath and Hampstead Society and the Highgate Society.

Both are embroiled in fighting complex planning wars on multiple fronts and they have vowed to combine forces to protest against future developments.

It comes as Sainsbury’s faces a massive backlash over plans for a new store in a shopping parade on the edge of Hampstead Heath, sparking the anger of Bill Oddie, Dame Janet Suzman and hundreds of others.

The retail giant plans to convert four independent shops in South End Road into a Sainsbury’s Local, leading residents to label the company “Painsbury’s” and issue the demand “Don’t mess with Hampstead!”.

In Highgate, the fight to stop the demolition of historic Athlone House, on the edge of Hampstead Heath, moved up a notch as the Highgate Society began fundraising for a legal challenge.

Highgate Society vice-president Michael Hammerson said civic groups were facing a number of controversial planning bids.

“In terms of the scale and seriousness of the threat, it is as serious a situation for the local area as we have ever had,” he said. “It is a planning apocalypse.”

Both societies hope that working together will help to meet the threat head-on.

Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Marc Hutchinson, 59, said: “When two societies combine the opposition is going to be much more effective.”

Senior members of the Highgate Society say they will be forced to rely on public donations to fund a costly legal fight over Athlone House. The looming legal battle comes as the society plunges existing finances into a legal challenge over the Hampstead Heath dams project and an appeal against plans to build luxury homes on the Highgate Bowl.

“The outcomes are so serious and fundamental for the future of our area that we have to throw everything at them,” Mr Hammerson said. “The pressure is enormous at the moment and it’s not just these two appeals.”

Heath and Hampstead Society trustee Douglas Maxwell, an architect who lives in Hampstead Village, added his voice to fears that the unique village characters of Hampstead and Highgate are under immense threat.

“I think the situation is very serious,” he said. “We encourage those who think the same to support us both by joining the society and by helping us in this work.”

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00
Volunteers plant a new herbaceous border to mark Waterlow Park's 125th anniversary. Picture: Polly Hancock

Volunteers armed with gardening forks and spades replanted a herbaceous border to mark a Highgate park’s 125th anniversary.

Yesterday, 11:00
Bridget Cherry pictured at Hornsey Tower

Bridget Cherry's book, Ivy-Mantled Tower A History of the Church and Churchyard of St Mary Hornsey has been published by The Hornsey Historical Soc. Picture: Nigel Sutton

In telling the story of a long-vanished parish church, architectural historian Bridget Cherry has delved into the heart of what was once Hornsey village.

Yesterday, 10:00
Paul Young, 18, who won the Personal Journey award and was named Inspirational Young Person of the Year at the Camden Youth Awards. Picture: Dieter Perry

Paul Young struggled to cope after suffering mental health problems, being bullied at school, and having to care for his unwell mother.

Fri, 17:29
Crouch End Festival Chorus at St John's Smith Square. Photo: Emily Soppet

The Crouch End Festival Chorus is taking a deep breath and running a 12-hour sponsored singing marathon this Saturday to raise funds for a major recording project.

Fri, 16:48
Flowers on Parkland Walk

Police are investigating after live ammunition was discovered in Parkland Walk.

Squatters at West End Lane

Squatters are currently believed to have barricaded themselves into a former council building in West Hampstead after an eviction order was served.

Fri, 13:00
London Ambulance Service has been recommended for special measures following a CQC report

The London Ambulance Service has been placed into special measures after being slammed by a health watchdog investigation as “inadequate”.

Fri, 11:47
Tulip Siddiq challenged the Prime Minister in the House of Commons

Mothers’ maiden names should be listed on marriage certificates alongside fathers’ names, Hampstead and Kilburn’s MP has told Parliament.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder