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Dams project and schools development to turn Hampstead Heath into ‘battlefield’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:17 29 December 2014

An artist's impression of how the new Parliament Hill School building will look. Picture: ASTUDIO Ltd

An artist's impression of how the new Parliament Hill School building will look. Picture: ASTUDIO Ltd

Archant

Hampstead Heath will be a “nightmare” for three years when hundreds of lorries descend as part of construction works for a £22million schools redevelopment and the controversial dams project, a conservationist has warned.

Patrick Lefevre, chairman of the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee. Picture: Polly HancockPatrick Lefevre, chairman of the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee. Picture: Polly Hancock

Plans lodged at Camden Town Hall last week revealed that building works to transform Parliament Hill and William Ellis Schools on the edge of the Heath in Dartmouth Park will be carried out at the same time as the £15m project to raise the park’s dams.

It will mean hundreds of heavy-duty construction vehicles will drive in and out of the area while works are ongoing.

Patrick Lefevre, chairman of Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said: “The Heath is likely to be a battlefield.

“All the pressure on the Heath with the dams works and all the demolition at the schools – the whole area is going to be a nightmare problem.”

Jessica Learmond-Criqui. Picture: Dieter PerryJessica Learmond-Criqui. Picture: Dieter Perry

Works to raise the dams to prevent them failing in the event of a severe storm are set to begin in April and continue until October 2016.

They will overlap with proposals to demolish and build new school buildings for Parliament Hill, William Ellis and La Swap sixth-form consortium from autumn 2015 until spring 2018.

At the peak of construction, up to 10 lorries a day would drive in and out of the schools site, while a significant number of heavy lorries would drive across the Heath for the ponds project.

The works would also coincide with the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project from 2017, which would see a major increase of HGV traffic through Hampstead.

Community activist Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of Hampstead, said: “It’s not that we are against the schools getting new buildings. Camden needs to look at the applications which are in, in the order they have come in, and space them out so the area doesn’t become a permanent car park.”

Camden Council has come under fire from residents after lodging the application to redevelop the schools just one week before Christmas.

Plans include designs for a modern curved teaching block for Parliament Hill School and a dedicated study space for La Swap.

Christopher Harrison, 49, who lives opposite the schools in Grove Terrace, Dartmouth Park, said: “I think it is disgraceful. The tactic of shoving in an application nine days before Christmas, in the hope that everyone will be away or too busy to mount an effective opposition, is the modus operandi of the grubby developer.

“For the council itself to play this dirty game would be surprising except for the fact that, unfortunately, it is not surprising at all.”

Mr Lefevre accused the council of “railroading” the application through to cut costs.

A council spokesman said the local authority will accept comments on the proposals after the official closing date in light of the busy Christmas period.

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