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Cracks appear in road's quiet veneer

PUBLISHED: 15:42 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010

ANGRY residents in Highgate have joined forces to stop their quiet road being destroyed by oversized buildings and underground swimming pools. Since July 2006, Haringey Council has granted permission for what residents say will be seven noisy

Tan Parsons

ANGRY residents in Highgate have joined forces to stop their quiet road being destroyed by oversized buildings and underground swimming pools.

Since July 2006, Haringey Council has granted permission for what residents say will be seven noisy and disruptive developments in Grange Road, similar to one around the corner at 8 View Road.

They say the council has breached planning rules and ignored the road's status as part of the conservation area in granting permission for houses which are too big, and where excavations have been permitted without proper knowledge of underground streams.

They are now considering taking legal action.

"These new houses will swallow up all the green space," said Stephen Rose, who has lived in Grange Road for 12 years.

"This is a conservation area. It's summed up by the surface of our road - it's gravely. We don't want it tarmaced, it's unique to the area. It's what we love about it and we feel it should be preserved."

Linda Wright lives next door to 8 View Road, a new house at the end of Grange Road which has been under construction by developers Harrison Varma Ltd for the past 18 months. It is similar in design and size to the developments the council has approved for Grange Road.

"There has been no consultation whatsoever," she said. "It's been absolutely awful to watch my house, which used to be beautiful, crumbling around me.

"They spent six months drilling and piling and you could feel the whole house shaking. It left my house with cracks in the wall so big I could put my hand through them to the outside."

Other Grange Road residents are worried the same fate could happen to their homes if other planned developments are allowed to go ahead.

"We know there are huge problems with the water table in this area as well," said Ms Wright. "There are some lovely trees in the gardens in this road, and it would be a tragedy if their water supply was cut off."

Liberal Democrat councillor Rachel Allison has called for a meeting with the council's planning department. She said: "The council has not taken into account any of its own guidelines. The houses here are supposed to be of a varied nature but all the buildings that have been approved seem to be identical designs by the same firm, PKS Architects.

"These residents are not Nimbys - their lives will become a misery if this goes on. These developments should not have been granted permission."

Gordon Forbes, chairman of the Highgate Society, said: "Grange Road seems to be under attack from over-ambitious developers who do not understand the character of the road, and it is being destroyed as a result. It seems essential these days for everyone to have swimming pools, gymnasiums and underground cinemas, and we feel the burrowing activities needed to create these are inappropriate."

Haringey council's enterprise and regeneration boss Cllr Kaushika Amin said: "We consider all applications carefully on their merits, taking into account the character of the area, agreed planning policies and any representations made. Contemporary design will not always be inappropriate in areas like this, as recent appeals in the area demonstrate.

"On underground excavation we follow Environment Agency guidelines. Highgate is not a flood risk area so there is no requirement for survey information on groundwater conditions for single house excavations.

"All developments are monitored by our building control team."

A spokesman for developers Harrison Varma said: "We are very sorry for any disturbance caused to Ms Wright, but everything was done absolutely correctly through professional surveyors. We have taken full responsibility for the crack that appeared on the extension of her house and sorted it out."

tan.parsons@hamhigh.co.uk

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