Flats threat to Hampstead church’s rare stained glass windows

A battle is underway to save some of the most precious stained glass windows in London - which are threatened by development in Hampstead.

A planning inspector heard the case for building a block of flats next door to St Andrews United Reformed Church, on the corner of Finchley Road and Frognal Lane, on Monday (January 9).

Developers Gapland were refused permission for 14 flats over five storeys in March but have appealed the decision.

Church representatives and stained glass aficionados claim the proposed flats would block light essential to illuminate the intricate stained glass.

Alison Robison, founder of the Scottish Stained Glass Trust, travelled from Edinburgh to express her vehement opposition.

She said: “This is the most important and finest First World War memorial in London by the greatest ever Scottish stained glass artist.” The rare 20th Century windows were made by Douglas Strachan and are the only ones of their kind to survive the Blitz.

Caroline Benyon, from the British Society of Master Glass Painters, said to lose light to the windows would be a travesty.

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“It would be like putting a veil on them,” she said. “Like putting a brass ornament in a box. The whole beauty and joy of stained glass is how the light falls on them.”

There is also concern about the demolition of an Arts and Crafts building next door to the church to make way for the flats.

Neighbours added their fears about subsidence, as previous works to build a retirement home on the other side of the proposed site in the 1980s caused the partial collapse of their gardens.

Robert Hagemans, who lives in a flat next door, said: “Our main concern is the basement and how close it will come to our foundations.

“We have the feeling it will destablise our property and that the developers haven’t done their homework.”

Planning Inspector Terry Phillimore is due to present his findings in a matter of weeks.

The Ham&High was unable to contact developers Gapland Ltd.