Search

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.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

51 minutes ago
Left to right: Jeremy Clynes, Deborah Warland, Hetty Colchester and Jonathan Seres, who all helped to set up Garden Suburb Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Campaigners who took over running their local library to save it from closure fear that new multi-million pound cuts will “decimate” Barnet’s library service.

16:45
Will Jenkins, of Highgate School, was a finalist in the 11-14 category at the 50th Wildlife Photograher of the Year Awards

When an 11-year-old Highgate schoolboy leapt out of a swimming pool to capture a striking dragon-like iguana on camera, he had no clue the snap would class him among the best young photographers in the world.

08:56
Patrick O'Leary

A member of a violent gang that burst into a woman’s home and stabbed her in the face with a screwdriver has been jailed.

11:39
Howard Jacobson at the LJCC. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Author Howard Jacobson may have missed out on a second Man Booker Prize recently, but it appears the planned closure of a historic Jewish community centre has caused him greater disappointment.

Most read news

And it’s said to be revolutionising access to donor sperm throughout the country.

Many people now feel they have to move jobs to better their career and get ahead.

‘Go get him’ said the police officer, and that’s just what the dog did.

It’s deforestation, but not as you’ve seen it before.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition