Homeland’s Damian Lewis and Harry Potter’s Helen McCrory oppose plans for luxury home next to school in Belsize Park

05:00 07 March 2013

Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis are opposing plans for the home next to St Christopher

Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis are opposing plans for the home next to St Christopher's School in Belsize Park

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Hollywood couple is backing a campaign by schoolchildren to block plans for a luxury home next to their playground – which they claim would blight the Belsize Park school forever.

St Christopher's School Parents & children protesting against plans for a housing development on the edge of their school.St Christopher's School Parents & children protesting against plans for a housing development on the edge of their school.

Actors Damian Lewis, from TV’s Homeland, and wife Helen McCrory, who starred as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, joined hundreds of pupils from St Christopher’s School – including their daughter – to protest against plans for a neighbouring modern three-bedroom house.

Leisure complex

If the plans go-ahead, construction vehicles will descend on the site in Lyndhurst Gardens to dig out a two-storey basement leisure complex.

The all-girls primary school, which charges almost £4,000 a term, said the new house would tower over its playground and dust from the construction work would prevent them using their science garden.

The thespian couple, who sat opposite President Obama at a White House dinner last year, joined around 30 parents at a planning hearing on Tuesday to object to the plans.

Ms McCrory, who played Cherie Blair in Oscar-winning film The Queen, told the Ham&High: “It’s amazing. You have hundreds of people complaining because someone wants to build a swimming pool.”

Dozens of school girls marched on Camden Town Hall last September armed with placards bearing the campaign slogan “education not excavation”.

They helped convince planning officials to reject the plans to bulldoze a 1970s two-bedroom bungalow and replace it with the luxury home, featuring a swimming pool, gym and sunken courtyard.

But developer Lyndhurst Gardens LLP, set up by company Vabel, is now challenging the decision through the Planning Inspectorate.

Representing the school at the hearing was QC Fiona Parkin, of Wedderburn Road in Belsize Park, who has a daughter at the school.

She said: “The wall (of the home) is going to be raised and the building will stand up above the school.”

Headmistress Susie West said: “For us, plonking down this mass of brick will create a sense of enclosure for the pupils.”

Stephen Brown, of Croftdown Road, Dartmouth Park, who has two daughters at the school, said: “The serenity and enjoyment the girls have from the place will be impacted quite severely.

‘‘You have to balance the interest of many generations of school girls against one home owner.”

Stephen Gray, a heritage consultant employed by Vabel, said: “The area is a choir singing a rather rousing piece of Edwardian music by Elgar and the existing bungalow is singing rather out of key, but quietly, so no one really notices.”

He added that the new house would be a “descant singing against the prevailing tune, which can be a beautiful thing”.

A decision on the planning appeal will be made in coming weeks.


Latest News Stories

The London Fire Brigade has put forward proposals to axe 13 fire engines to save £11million

‘While a new website would be welcome, this should not be done at the cost of frontline cuts’ says fire resources committee chief

Yesterday, 18:01
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

The two young men from Kentish Town who left the UK to fight for Islamic State (IS) in Syria are former pupils of Acland Burghley School.

Yesterday, 16:46
The government says the HPV vaccine is safe and will protect against deaths from cervical cancer

East Finchley mother accuses pharmaceutical industry and government of ‘ignoring generation of sick girls’ as European Medicines Agency finds no link between illnesses and cervical cancer jab

Yesterday, 15:58
Carl Ryan, who is charged with misconduct in a public office, outside court (Picture: Central News)

A detective who faked records - including witness statements by Whittington Hospital staff - thwarted three investigations into serious sex assaults, a court heard.

Yesterday, 12:18
Firefighters from West Hampstead were called to tackle the large blaze in Finchley Road - which burned for 72 hours

West Hampstead and Hornsey fire stations could both lose an engine under controversial cost-cutting proposals

Yesterday, 10:04
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

Two sons of a nursery teacher at a Kentish Town primary school have fled the UK to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Mon, 18:54
Counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco pouches, fake duty stamps, and other packaging seized during the raid

Warning over danger to public health as illicit tobacco products worth £11,000 taken off streets

Mon, 13:25
Del Cooke, headteacher of Henrietta Barnett School, with pupils in front of the school. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Hampstead Garden Suburb grammar school Henrietta Barnett is once again rated the best all-girls state school in the country in an annual league table published by The Sunday Times.

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


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

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

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder