Fitzroy Farm development really is bad news for the Heath
This week s revelation of the nature and scale of the Fitzroy Farm Development ( bonkers plan H&H 24 April 2008) is a wake up call for all those who love and value Hampstead Heath and its immediate environs. There are at least five things to be said abou
This week's revelation of the nature and scale of the Fitzroy Farm Development ("bonkers plan" H&H 24 April 2008) is a wake up call for all those who love and value Hampstead Heath and its immediate environs. There are at least five things to be said about this development on the very edge of Hampstead Heath, near Millfield Lane: it is disproportionate, inappropriate, unreasonable, unnecessary and totally self interested. It is also carries a contagion; if given final approval by Camden Council, it will almost certainly lead to a plague of other such disruptive, self seeking building site conditions lasting many long and disagreeable years.
It is the antithesis of everything Hampstead Heath stands for and has been. It is about making money whilst Hampstead Heath saved from developers by public subscription under the 1871 Hamspstead Heath Act, stands for the very opposite, putting nature and rural landscape above money. It is an unlooked for irony that the attractions of an unspoilt, unbuilt upon Hampstead Heath should be the attraction for a massive building development, lasting an estimated two and half years, at its very edge. The developers, reported to be an offshore hedge fund, appear to have perceived the scarcity value of the unspoilt charm and simplicity of this rare spot for another speculative killing.
This is not granny extension (not even a grand one) or an incremental improvement to what is there but a radical, lengthy - an estimated two and a half years - destructive plan involving the removal and inward transportation of huge quantities of material. The site is literally only a couple of hundred feet away from the Kenwood swimming pond, which in turn is part of a fragile and scarce water linked ecosystem that is threatened by such major works close to its banks. Unconducive and toxic materials could and probably would, over a lengthy two and a half year period, leach into these ponds, to the disadvantage of their wild life and vegetation. It could lead to contamination that would render them unsafe for swimming and wild life. It is a danger too great for contemplation. Years of noise, disruption and dangers to the health and safety of everyone; men, women, children, animals, residents, strollers and the many swimmers is guaranteed.
The area around Fitzroy Farm, with Hampstead Heath as its backyard literally over a fence, is miraculously preserved low density old Middlesex countryside. The hamlet of houses and lanes around Fitzroy Farm with its garden allotments, is a rare inheritance from a quieter, gentler domesticity in a rural setting that we can all still appreciate and enjoy in 2008. It could almost be Agatha Christie's St. Mary's Mead with Miss Marples herself appearing unexpectedly one of its lanes. This development and all that must follow, would kill the spirit of this spot. Transforming it perhaps into another version of the now vulgarised, brutalised, security gated camera swept Bishops' Avenue and colony of the non-dom super rich.
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Camden Council must be persuaded by all of us to refuse permission for this development.
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Robert Sutherland Smith.
Chairman, United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath.