Beatles artist and Hollywood actor back campaign to stop Hampstead development

Residents from the corner of Platts Lane and Kidderpore Ave are concerned about the impact of the pr

Residents from the corner of Platts Lane and Kidderpore Ave are concerned about the impact of the proposed new development on the opposite corner. From left Stephen Petit, Martin Craxton, Birte Leimkulehler and Sarita Mohapatra. Picture: Polly Hancock

Famous names including Hollywood actor Tom Conti and pop art pioneer Sir Peter Blake are backing a campaign to block a large-scale development in Hampstead.

Mr Conti, who starred in The Dark Knight Rises, and Sir Peter, who designed the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, have both signed a petition to stop plans for 128 flats in Kidderpore Avenue.

Proposals also include a two-storey underground car park at the King’s College London site, off Finchley Road.

The site is currently home to student halls and Hampstead School of Art, and developers have pledged to build a new three-storey art “pavilion” to replace the 1960s art school building.

But more than 100 residents have signed a petition opposing the design, scale and height of the development, which they say does not fit in with the Redington and Frognal Conservation Area.

Sir Peter is worried the setting of an arts and crafts building, designed by one of his favourite architects, Charles Voysey, will be ruined by the extensive development. He wants to protect the view of Annesely Lodge in Platt’s Lane, opposite Kidderpore Avenue.

Campaigner and resident Sarita Mohapatra, who lives in Annesely Lodge, said: “People come from America and Japan to see this house, it’s a big local attraction.

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“The development is just totally inappropriate for an area of quiet, green, leafy streets with extraordinary buildings.”

In a statement included in the petition, Sir Peter says: “The proposals ignore the historical interest, and would permanently harm the character of Redington and Frognal Conservation Area.

“The development should not be allowed.”

Under current proposals, the construction works would take five years to complete.

Actor Peter Egan, who has starred in Downton Abbey, is also backing the campaign, voicing concern that around 81 cars in the underground car parks will “overload the roads”.

Blues musician Stephen Dale Petit, partner of Ms Mohapatra, said: “On a selfish level, if I’m going to have five years of misery, let’s have it in keeping with the conservation area.

“But no one lives forever and people in 100 years’ time will have no idea how special this area was if the plans go ahead.”

A spokesman for the developer said: “Our proposals will deliver 35 much needed affordable homes and secure a long-term future for the Hampstead School of Art.

“More than 200 residents have written to the council in support of our plans, which were developed with extensive public consultation.

“We listened to the community by changing the architects and redesigning the scheme to protect the school of art, restore the arts and crafts buildings, enhance the green space and reduce the scale of the development.”