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Camden planners accused of ruining Hampstead residents' 'quality of life'

PUBLISHED: 12:21 06 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:21 06 December 2015

Michael Taylor of the  St Stephens Trust told the meeting the former church will be at risk of falling down when work starts on Royal Free research building

Michael Taylor of the St Stephens Trust told the meeting the former church will be at risk of falling down when work starts on Royal Free research building

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Hampstead residents are demanding a full review into the working of Camden's planning department accusing them of making decisions that are turning Hampstead into a congested building site and ruining the quality of life in the village.

The meeting was called by Jessica Learmond-CriquiThe meeting was called by Jessica Learmond-Criqui

As hundreds filled former church St Stephens to confront council representatives at a public meeting last night they were shocked to hear that a new report has warned that the building they were sitting in is at risk of falling down when one of the most controversial developments passed by planners to build a new Royal Free Research Centre gets underway.

They also heard from the desperate mother of a disabled young musician who has made a formal complaint to Camden that her plans to adapt her South Hampstead home to accomodate him have still not been decided after a year.

The public meeting was called by Hampstead solicitor Jessica Learmond Criqui to give residents an “opportunity to put their concerns to senior officers in Camden Council about the application of planning rules, basements, the number of new developments being granted.

The audience applauded when local resident Jane Henderson accused Camden planners of constantly putting developers first and ignoring planning guidelines to recommend new buildings which are ruining the lives of the people who live and work around them.

Susan Zur-Szpiro has made a formal complaint to CamdenSusan Zur-Szpiro has made a formal complaint to Camden

“Hampstead residents and Highgate residents demand a full review of Camden’s planning department.”

Mayer Hillman spoke of an overall injustice of neighbours to large developments having to put up with months of noisy disruptive buildng work while the owners move out. “There is an overall huge injustice. People have to live next to building sites while their quality of lives are affected. Should they have a right to any redress or it it just hard luck?”

Michael Taylor, of the St Stephens Trust, told the meeting how they were considering a judicial review against Camden planners decision to approve The Royal Free Hospital’s plans for a £42million research centre next to the former church, in Pond Street.

He said an expert’s report showed “this building where you are sitting now is at risk of collapse”.

Camden has no home for drummer Saul  Zur-Szpiro of the band AutistixCamden has no home for drummer Saul Zur-Szpiro of the band Autistix

Officers from Camden’s planning department told the meeting they did not have any power to reject applications because of the disruption building works would cause, but that they could deal with residents concerns through construction management plans.

A distraught mother who has been battling for year to adapt a basement in her home for her severely disabled musician son told the meeting she has made a formal complaint against Camden’s planning department.

Susan Zur-Szpiro fears son Saul, 22, will be left homeless as Camden has still not decided on her application to create a basement “semi-independent” flat at her home in Goldhurst Terrace a year after it was submitted.

Saul, a drummer with the Hampstead band Autistix, suffers from a genetic abnormality causing learning and movement difficulties, autism, speech and language problems.

She said: “We want to adapt our home with a basement conversion to meet our son’s needs to have (semi) independent space where he could have his own flatlet to be with his live-in carer and still be fully part of family life. Camden has made it clear that they do not have appropriate housing for Saul now or in the future.”

Her architect Sarah Murray-Smith has written to complain about mismanagement of her case.

A representative from Camden’s planning department told the meeting that he would look into Mrs Zur-Szpiro’s case as a matter of urgency.

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