Banker’s home rebuild next to Fenton House and former John Constable residence is ‘blow to conservationists’

Artist's impression of the new house, looking east along Admiral's Walk

Artist's impression of the new house, looking east along Admiral's Walk - Credit: Archant

A top banker’s plan to build a modern home next to historic Fenton House – which could threaten views painted by John Constable – has been approved by Camden planning chiefs.

The current Fleet House is set to be bulldozed. Picture: Google

The current Fleet House is set to be bulldozed. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Peter Rading, who was a senior executive at the Royal Bank of Scotland before resigning in January, has won permission to bulldoze Fleet House to make way for a 40 per cent larger four-bedroom house.

Fleet House, a 1950s building in Admiral’s Walk, Hampstead, sits next to the National Trust-owned Fenton House, a grand 17th century property with walled garden, and 60 yards from the Lower Terrace house where John Constable spent two summers in 1821 and 1822.

Camden Council’s development control committee rejected an earlier design in January but the revised plan was approved on Thursday.

The proposal has been reduced in size and no longer rises above the height of a shared wall with Fenton House, which had caused concern.

But aghast residents say the scheme is still too big and will serve to erode the area’s special character.

Literary historian Dr Christine Pullen, who now lives in the Constable house, said: “It has gone through without very much changing.

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“We don’t want to be Nimby’s, and the present Fleet House is not such a pretty building, but we feel the replacement is going to be much too large.”

Dr Pullen had warned that the development would “overwhelm” the historic view from her home, which was painted by Constable and frequently attracts groups of tourists.

Another major bone of contention is that the new building’s walls will be brought forward, right up to the pavement.

“The architects have tinkered about and made it look a bit prettier and less barrack-like, but they have still kept the foward line of the building,” Dr Pullen added. “That was one of the main reasons for the first refusal.”

She also raised concerns that a “precedent” has been set that will make large developments more likely, adding: “This is a very historically sensitive part of Hampstead, but there are people with a lot of financial resources who don’t particularly care about the heritage of Hampstead.”

Cllr Linda Chung, Liberal Democrat member for Hampstead Town ward, described the decision as “distressing” and a “blow to Hampstead conservationists”.

She said: “To bring forward the building line sets a precedent and means that creeping development will spoil the whole setting of that historical bit of Hampstead.”

Mr Rading’s architects, Stanton Williams, said the revised design followed “extensive discussions” with neighbours.

The firm’s director Patrick Richard added: “We are confident that this scheme will add significant value to the conservation area, following a long tradition of architect designed contemporary houses in the historical context of Hampstead.”