Developers win appeal to demolish former New End nursing home

Heathside Preparatory School pupils and parents protest against the redevelopment of New End nurses'

Heathside Preparatory School pupils and parents protest against the redevelopment of New End nurses' hostel. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Protesters have lost their battle to stop a seven-storey luxury flat complex being built on the site of a former nursing home in Hampstead.

Protesters have been left “speechless” after losing their battle to stop a seven-storey luxury block of flats being built on the site of a former nursing home in Hampstead.

The proposals to bulldoze the 1930s derelict nursing hostel. in New End, and replace it with 17 luxury homes and a triple-depth basement car park, were originally rejected by Camden councillors after a unanimous vote in 2013.

But Karawana Holdings Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands, launched an appeal against the decision and the Government Inspectorate ruled yesterday that the works can now go ahead.

Its decision rejected evidence from a group of schools and neighbours opposed to the development, who said the construction works would pose a danger to children at three primary schools neighbouring the site: New End, Heathside and Christ Church.

As reported in the Ham&High, neighbours, parents and students from Heathside School, armed with signs and T-shirts emblazoned with protest slogans, had staged a demonstration against the scheme during the two-week planning inquiry at the beginning of December.

Their main concern was for the safety of hundreds of schoolchildren at the neighbouring schools. They now fear a child could be seriously hurt by one of the trucks during construction.

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Reversing Camden’s decision, planning inspector John Chase said Karawana had prepared a “construction management plan” to minimise disruption during the works and concluded the development was “neither so extreme nor unusual as to justify refusal of planning permission because of the short-term consequences of the construction process, provided the maximum is done to mitigate their effect on the local community.”

He rejected other objections about the scheme’s negative effect on the Hampstead conservation area, impact on parking and effect of the basement on the structure of existing buildings and trees.

Heathside School headmistress Melissa Remus Elliot, said: “I am shocked and speechless. How is it possible when so many people were against this, that one man can over-ride everyone else?

“I cannot believe that a building project that will be so dangerous to children on its doorstep and have bad effects on so many local people’s lives, is now going through so that developers can profit.”

Hampstead campaigner Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “I am just gutted. I feel for Heathside Primary opposite with those school children being subjected to the dust and noise.

“The government talks about giving local people more powers to determine their destiny and then this happens. The law needs to change to give us the ability to stop this sort of thing and without being overruled by a planning inspector.

“Camden Council’s development committee came to the right decision to refuse planning permission for this development but the planning inspector has essentially neutered the local power. There is an inconsistency in the government’s stance on these matters and they must do more to devolve power to the local people to determine their destiny.”