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‘Monstrous Swiss Cottage tower’ will blight view from Hampstead Heath, say conservation group

Save Swiss Cottage campaigners gather outside 100 Avenue Road. Picture: Polly Hancock Save Swiss Cottage campaigners gather outside 100 Avenue Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

Thursday, April 24, 2014
8:00 AM

Plans to demolish the Ham&High’s office building and replace it with the highest residential tower in Camden would “cast a blight on the whole area – including substantial parts of Hampstead and the Heath”.

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The front page of the Hampstead and Highgate Express (April 26, 1963) reporting on strongly objected to plans for 'skyscrapers' to be built a short distance from the Avenue Road tower currently being consideredThe front page of the Hampstead and Highgate Express (April 26, 1963) reporting on strongly objected to plans for 'skyscrapers' to be built a short distance from the Avenue Road tower currently being considered

That is the claim of The Heath and Hampstead Society, which has joined the growing opposition campaign against plans for a 24-storey building at 100 Avenue Road, in Swiss Cottage, submitted by developers Essential Living last month.

The council has since received a barrage of objections over the building’s height, disruption caused by construction work and the pressure on services and amenities due to added housing.

In a letter to the council, The Heath and Hampstead Society said: “The proposal is located a short distance outside the area in which we normally confine our comments, but its impact is such that it would affect many parts of Hampstead, and Hampstead Heath.

“Long-distance views of this tower block would intrude on many historic and publicly important areas.

“The impact of this excessive height on places not only in the vicinity but miles away would be unpleasant and intrusive. It would be visible from as far away as parts of Hampstead Heath.

“There is nothing exciting or interesting about the sight of a tower block, and the thought that it could itself become a precedent for more towers – a Northern Canary Wharf – is quite appalling.”

The society is urging the council to reject the building and a similar call from campaigners – backed by councillors from all parties – has been gaining support.

Members from the Swiss Cottage Action Group were protesting the plans outside the building yesterday (Wednesday).

Monika Caro, whose family home, on the corner of Winchester Road and Adelaide Road, was knocked down to make way for the Chalcots Estate residential development in the 1960s, said it had given some long-term residents a sense of deja vu.

“There was an enormous uproar about the construction of the neighbouring Chalcots Estate tower blocks during the 1960s.

“It was such a beautiful area then.

“I remember the council made a pledge never to build any tower higher because of all the complaints. Now it’s deja vu and we’re having to fight again.”

The scheme would replace the existing six-storey building with a 24-storey tower block joined to a five/seven-storey building, separated by an arcade through to a green space behind the site. The tower would be mostly residential, while the smaller building would accommodate retail space.

There would be 184 flats, 36 of them classed as affordable, and almost 1,000sqm of retail space.

Martin Hughes, spokesman for Essential Living, said: “Our high quality proposals will deliver much-needed new homes, including affordable housing, improved public space and access, as well as providing new jobs and attracting further investment.

“Whilst we recognise that some local concerns have been expressed about the tower element, we firmly believe that it is the right location for a landmark building.”

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