'Big elephant's backside': David Hare and Nicole Farhi slam house plans

Sir David Hare and Nicole Farhi, pictured in 2016

Sir David Hare and Nicole Farhi, pictured in 2016 - Credit: PA

Playwright Sir David Hare and his sculptor wife Nicole Farhi have blasted plans for a neighbour’s Hampstead home as “an unholy mix of the gargantuan and the twee”. 

They compared the proposals to redevelop 18A Frognal Gardens with a “big elephant’s backside”.

Plans have been lodged for the Hampstead home, valued at £3.73m by property website Zoopla, to be knocked down and replaced with a four-storey, four-bedroom home.

A proposed all-green façade has been met with ire by neighbours, who believe it is “insensitive” to the character of the conservation area.

Camden Council’s planning committee will decide on the proposals on April 29. A draft decision from a council officer recommends the plans be approved. 

In a joint statement submitted to Camden Council, seen by the Ham&High, Mr Hare and Ms Farhi said: “We are both enthusiastic admirers of modern architecture, particularly in NW3 where the mix of the old and the new is very rich.

The existing home is valued at £3.72m 

What 18A Frognal Gardens currently looks like - Credit: Polly Hancock


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“But this proposed development is hideous – a big elephant’s backside with namby-pamby balconies which belong on a Tyrolean fairground ride.  

“The whole design, out of proportion to the rest of the street and violently obtrusive to anyone who has to live near it, is an unholy mix of the gargantuan and the twee – and has absolutely nothing to do with design principles of the surrounding streets. It looks like it’s been blown up with a bicycle pump.   

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“I can’t believe that Camden is going to go ahead with anything so remarkably ugly. If there is an opportunity at 18a to build a beautiful new house, then please let it be in scale to everything else.” 

A joint letter from Frognal Gardens Residents called the designs “too muscular and ostentatious, bearing no relation to its neighbours”. 

Janine Griffis, of Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, said: “You don't have to be an architect to see that the proposal is too large and too green and cannot help but clash with the character of the area.” 

18A Frognal Gardens could be turned from red to green

The Hampstead home's fate will be decided on April 29 - Credit: Polly Hancock

Alison Brooks Architects, acting on behalf of the applicant Roger Pilgrim, said it would not comment on the plans until a decision had been made. 

In its application documents the firm wrote that the building would be “an exemplary piece of architecture”, and one that “contributes positively to the character of the street and the wider conservation area”. 

For more information use the reference number 2020/5214/P on Camden Council’s planning application portal

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