Gardener wades in to row as planners set to decide fate of ‘Forsyte Saga’ house Grove Lodge tonight

Dennis McGuiness former gardener at Grove Lodge pictured with a painting of the garden by John Cross

Dennis McGuiness former gardener at Grove Lodge pictured with a painting of the garden by John Crossfield - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A former gardener at the Grade II-listed Hampstead home where the Forsyte Saga was penned is protesting at plans to dig a mega-basement under the landmark house.

As reported in the Ham&High, hundreds of protesters have signed a petition against the plans by finprivate equity partner Caspar Berendsen and wife Celia for Grove Lodge, where Forsyte Saga author John Galsworthy lived until 1933.

The former farmhouse adjoins historic Admiral’s House, in Admiral’s Walk, where Disney’s Mary Poppins was filmed.

Both 18th century homes were immortalised by painter John Constable.

The scheme for a basement gym, two bedrooms and a children’s playroom under Grove Lodge will be decided by Camden’s devlepment control committee tonight, A delegation of neighbours are planning to address the committee meeting.

Dennis McGinness, 64, who was a gardener at the house for forty years and now works next door at Admiral’s House, has written to the comittee members urging them to reject the scheme and will attend the meeting tonight as part of a delegation against the plans.

Mr McGinness started working at Grove Lodge at the age of 19 in 1970 for the Crosfield family who bought the property from John Galsworthy.

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He said: “I worked on these beautiful gardens for years. They are my pride and joy. My boss ,Mr John Crosfield even painted the gardens for me and gave me the work as a gift.”

In his letter he urges planners to reject the scheme writing: “A substantial part of Grove Lodge garden will be lost forever.”

“It will do substantial harm to the character of the conservation area, as well as possible damage to the structure of both these fine properties.”

Mr Mcginness, who now lives in Well Walk in Hampstead, said the “current vogue for basement digs” caused damage to neighbouring proprties and upheaval to neighbours.

Actor Tom Conti, who lives in Redington Road, said: “It is inhumane to expose your neighbours to that kind of disruption, noise and street closures.You should not be allowed to disturb people’s lives like that.”

In August, following objections, Mr Berendsen replaced his original plans with a smaller scheme.

Camden planning officers have recommended approval.