'They're setting off burglar alarms!' Neighbours' fury as UCS Hampstead lets helicopters land on playing fields
PUBLISHED: 17:30 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 12 October 2018
Neighbours are in a spin over UCS Hampstead's unusual decision to allow a commercial helicopter firm to use its playing fields as a landing pad.
Homeowners say they knew nothing about the school’s plans and have complained the vibrations and deafening noise keeps setting off their burglar alarms.
Elite Helicopters have made seven landings already this month, and the “H” painted on the grass suggests the operation isn’t a short-term one. MP Mike Freer has now raised concerns about “safety and disturbance”.
Philip Silvert of Hocroft Road told the Ham&High it was causing “quite a riot” – and Elite has now agreed to ask pilots to “vary their approach” so they are not flying over the same houses repeatedly.
“One landed 80 metres away from the schoolchildren,” said Philip. “That’s f*****g close. It’s dangerous.
“It’s also setting off alarms when people lock their houses up. This is a built up area but apparently it’s legal.”
Philip says he was told by the school that Elite Helicopter was making a donation to its sports facilities in exchange for being allowed to use the grounds.
“We’ve got taxis taking people away [from the landing pad],” he said. “I’d like to know who’s in them.”
The Finchley and Golders Green MP is on the case as part of the playing fields lie in his constituency. He told us: “I am aware of the issue and am raising it with the Civil Aviation Authority and UCS.
“Clearly, there are questions about safety and disturbance to residents in what is a built up area.”
William Fanshawe, head of flight operations at Elite, addressed concerns about helicopters landing near schoolchildren in an email seen by this newspaper.
He said: “They were being supervised as part of a sports class and were separated by a fence from where the helicopter landed. The pilot estimated that they were 80 metres away and were allowed to approach the helicopter when it was closed down.”
He added: “I imagine the main reason for your complaint is that you don’t like the noise disturbance. To reduce this we have agreed with UCS to limit movements to sociable hours and will encourage our pilots to vary their approaches when safe to do so to avoid flying over the same houses.”
UCS has been contacted for comment.