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Controversial plans to demolish Athlone House rejected

PUBLISHED: 14:32 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:54 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton A CONTROVERSIAL plan to bulldoze a Victorian mansion on the edge of Hampstead Heath has rejected by Camden Council s planning committee. Developers Athlone House Ltd applied for permission to demolish the much loved Athlone House, which

Charlotte Newton

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to bulldoze a Victorian mansion on the edge of Hampstead Heath has been rejected by Camden Council's planning committee.

Developers Athlone House Ltd applied for permission to demolish the much loved Athlone House, which was built on Hampstead Lane in 1870. They want to replace it with an eight bedroom property complete with underground parking.

During an impassioned debate in the council chamber last night (Thursday) Professor Robert Adam, the architect representing the owner, claimed the current house was too dilapidated to be restored.

He said: "It's old, weathered and seriously debased. It's lost many of its key features."

But Officers said that a 2004 planning application to build 27 luxury homes in the grounds of Athlone House was granted on the grounds the mansion must be restored under a section 106 agreement.

They also warned that the proposed development was inappropriate in terms of bulk, form, design and materials. It would be detrimental to views from the Heath and surrounding Highgate conservation area, they said. The application sparked more than 500 objections from residents' groups, users of the Heath and conservationists.

Martin Humphery, a member of the Athlone House Working Group said: "We strongly condemn the applicants' failure to carry out the first stage of their obligations under the Section 106 Agreement with the council, by neglecting adequately to preserve the existing house, and allowing it to decay. We call on this committee to instruct the enforcement department to take immediate steps to enforce this legal agreement."

Councillors unanimously agreed to throw the application out.

After the meeting Mr Humphery said: "We are delighted to have been able to support Camden planners in achieving the rejection of this appalling scheme, which would have seen a hugely intrusive and palatial mansion replacing a much loved Victorian house.

"We anticipate an appeal and need the continued support of the community to resist this."

Prof Adam said after the meeting that he would appeal against the decision: "This is the decision we were expecting but we will be appealing against it immediately," he said.


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