Plans to build an "oversized and out-of-keeping" 80-bed care home have been rejected after councillors overruled officials' recommendations.

Care home provider Kyn Developments sought approval for the former Heathside School site in West Heath Road after buying it from Harrison Varma Properties (HVP) last year.

Barnet Council planning officers had recommended councillors approve the "high quality" scheme - which followed a previous attempt to build flats on the land.

But at a planning meeting attended by Harrison Varma managing director Anil Varma on February 21, a majority of councillors voted to refuse consent.

Neighbour Beatrix Clark said she was "delighted" with the news.

She added: "This follows a fierce and protracted campaign by hundreds of local residents to overturn a proposal for an oversized, out of keeping and environmentally detrimental seven-storey apartment block then ‘care home’, no strategy for the organisation and running of which was ever provided.

"This is momentous news and will hopefully set a new precedent for a residential area blighted in recent years by overdevelopment.   

"I imagine it was also an unexpected outcome for Anil Varma, who was in attendance." 

In 2021 HVP proposed building 45 flats on the site formerly used by Heathside School.

But neighbours set up the West Heath Action Group to oppose the plans over issues including height, traffic impact and the provision of affordable housing.

Councillors had been twice set to debate the scheme, but each time protests and objections saw the council defer considering it.

In September 2022 HVP sold the site to home care provider Kyn.

The developer submitted a planning application, this time for a five-storey care home with 80 beds.

The proposal included 11 car parking spaces including two disabled bays, which opponents said was not enough for the staff and visitors at the home.

Recommending Kyn's scheme, Barnet Council officers said the "high quality" care home would have an "acceptable" impact on highways, the site and area, with "no significant harm" to neighbouring properties.

A Kyn spokesperson did not respond about Anil Varma's presence.

They said: "Hampstead is in need of care homes so it goes without saying that we’d love to bring KYN’s truly personalised model of care to the area.

"KYN do not own the land although we understand that further discussions on a revised scheme will be had, and we remain interested."