Green light for ‘big ugly block’ in Hampstead

Divisive: an impression of plans for 317 Finchley Road

Divisive: an impression of plans for 317 Finchley Road - Credit: Archant

Controversial plans to build a 10-storey “big ugly block” of luxury flats in Hampstead were last night waved through by Camden Council.

317 Finchley Road site

317 Finchley Road site - Credit: Jamie Prentis

The decision was a final blow to dismayed residents who campaigned against the height and lack of affordable housing in the proposals for 317 Finchley Road.

But despite the 20 objections submitted against the planning bid, Linea Homes Ltd now has the green light to knock down the derelict 3one7 pub and in its place build a Marks and Spencer’s shop with 22 flats on top - only two of which will be affordable.

James Earl, chair of the Fortune Green and West Hampstead neighbourhood development forum (FGWHNDF), said the building would “stick out like a sore thumb”.

“Ten storeys is excessive for an area of predominantly five storey buildings. The design was ugly. It’s a blot on the landscape.”

A six-storey, well-designed building that was in keeping with the red brick architecture of the area would have been more acceptable, he said.

“This modern block style design is not very sympathetic. It doesn’t reference local character apart from by being red. There is no detailing or curves. It’s just a big ugly block.”

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The original plans included no affordable housing provision at all, but the developers eventually agreed to include two flats.

“For a developer to submit an application of that size - which is clearly going to make a large profit - without committing to affordable housing is shameful.

“They could have afforded more and should have offered more. We feel it had to be forced out of them.”

He said the council should have “put up more of a stand on height and affordable housing”. “This was a missed opportunity. It doesn’t bode well for future developments”.

The FGWHNDF is worried the decision sets a “concerning” precedent for other similar sites, such as the council owned 156 West End Lane.

However some local businesses have welcomed the plans as a way to brighten up the area and the FGWHNDF conceded that the street-level part of the building was well designed.

A spokesperson for Linea Homes, which was also behind the conversion of the former Parrs Head pub in Camden Town into five luxury homes, said: “Our plans for 317 Finchley Road will enable a comprehensive redevelopment of this derelict site.

“It’s a great design that will bring real benefits to the local area, and we are pleased that Camden agreed that it can now go ahead.

“We are creating 22 new homes including two family homes for social rent, both with access to proper gardens.

“We are improving the public space around the site, making Billy Fury Way safer, and adding five new trees on Finchley Road.”

A spokesman for Camden Council said: “The Officer recommendation was to grant conditional planning permission, subject to a Section 106 agreement. After debating the item, the Planning Committee agreed.”