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Protest over plans to build on Hampstead Heath’s North Fairground site.

PUBLISHED: 17:31 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:51 06 September 2017

The proposed development of a temporary caravan site used for more than 100 years by fairground workers and which borders Hampstead Heath has been challenged by residents. Picture: GOOGLE

The proposed development of a temporary caravan site used for more than 100 years by fairground workers and which borders Hampstead Heath has been challenged by residents. Picture: GOOGLE

Archant

A planning row has erupted over developer’s threat to build on Hampstead Heath’s North Fairground site.

Residents are arguing against plans to redevelop land known as North Fairground in the Vale of Health next to Hampstead Heath. Picture: GOOGLE Residents are arguing against plans to redevelop land known as North Fairground in the Vale of Health next to Hampstead Heath. Picture: GOOGLE

Knightsbridge Parks submitted plans to build seven static caravans on the North Fairground near the Vale of Health last month with a deadline for objections set for tomorrow (Thurs).

To date almost 40 people have called on Camden Council to reject the proposals with many arguing the site is “sensitive” and should be preserved given how close it is to the Heath.

They add its status as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) means it should be saved given it is given the same protections as the green belt.

The developer argues its plan would not amount to a change from the site’s existing use and therefore does not require planning permission.

But critics claim Knightsbridge Parks’ proposal for the land – currently used as a temporary caravan site housing travelling people with storage space for their equipment – would change its use to a residential estate.

The plan’s detractors go on to allege the developer has provided misleading details about the number of dwellings it wants to build with seven noted in the initial application but a figure of 12 on a related document.

In a letter to Camden’s senior planning officer Charles Thuaire, Heath and Hampstead Society chair Marc Hutchinson warns the council that granting the application without a proper planning application “will set a disastrous legal precedent for the destruction” of land near Hampstead Heath.

Welsh National Opera development adviser John Ward, who lives near the Heath, told Camden the claim there would be no change from the existing use is “sophistry and hogwash”.

“I am very aware of the need to protect the Heath from encroachment and developments which will increase the number of cars and air pollution,” he wrote.

Frognal and Fitzjohns safer neighbourhood panel chairwoman Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “Safeguarding the Heath and areas close to it is paramount.

“This application seeks to change the use of the fairground by the back door and should be roundly rejected.”

North Fairground has been used by the Abbott family – which once sold horses to the British Army – since the 1900s.

Knightsbridge Parks has been approached for comment.

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