Financier withdraws basement scheme for Forsyte Saga’s Grove Lodge in Hampstead

Grove Lodge, Admirals Walk

Grove Lodge, Admirals Walk - Credit: Archant

A City financier has bowed to his Hampstead neighbours by withdrawing “inhumane” plans to dig a mega-basement under his landmark Grade II-listed home.

Tom Conti

Tom Conti - Credit: Nigel Sutton

As reported in the Ham&High, the application from private equity partner Caspar Berendsend for 18th century Grove Lodge, where author John Galsworthy penned his Forsyte Saga, sparked a wave of objections from neighbours, including actor Tom Conti.

Hundreds were opposed to the scheme to turn the house into a modern family home by excavating space for a gym, two bedrooms and a playroom for his five children.

Shirley Valentine actor Tom, who lives in Redington Road, is opposed to the months of disruption the work to the £11million home would cause.

He said: “It is inhumane to expose your neighbours to that kind of disruption, noise and street closures. You should not be allowed to do that to people – to disturb their lives like that.”

But in a letter to planners, Mr Berendsend, of City firm Cinven Partners, wrote: “Due to a number of comments received in response to the application, we have identified certain relevant areas for improvements.

“As we will be living in the neighbourhood for many decades to come, we are keen to incorporate this feedback. Due to this development we are withdrawing our application with a view on resubmitting in due course.”

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Other residents complained they will have to endure up to six years of building work, because of two other projects in the same street – a demolition that has planning consent and another basement excavation likely to go to appeal.

Grove Lodge, which adjoins the grand neighbouring Admiral’s House in Admiral’s Walk, dates back to 1700 was immortalised in a work by painter John Constable.

It was home to author John Galsworthy from 1918 to 1933, and the Heath & Hampstead Society said its “importance cannot be overestimated”.

It described Grove Lodge as “an extraordinarily fine and largely complete survivor of its 1700 period”, but warned it is likely to be structurally “fragile”.

“It is linked to, and forms an architectural composition with, the remarkable and iconic Admiral’s House, forming the essential core of our conservation area. Anything that could harm it structurally or visually must be resisted.”

David Castle, vice-chairman of the Heath & Hampstead Society, hailed the news, but added: “The acid test will be what is resubmitted. We will keep a close watch.”

Mr Conti said: “I am delighted for the immediate neighbours who have lived there for years. But it depends on the new scheme. The basement plan really needs to be abandoned altogether.”

But in a reply to Mr Berendsen, Camden’s planning officer Gideon Wittingham, confirmed officers supported the scheme in principle.