Green light for scheme which will turn Hampstead into ‘rich ghetto’

Tom Conti & Esther Rantzen at a demonstation against the plans for the former Kings College site

Tom Conti & Esther Rantzen at a demonstation against the plans for the former Kings College site - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Plans to build a luxury housing development with a two-storey underground carpark on the site of a grade II-listed wildlife haven in Hampstead have been given the go ahead.

Rev Alistair Tresidder

Rev Alistair Tresidder - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The decision by members of Camden’s development control committee last night flies in the face of a 200-strong petition against the scheme for the redevelopment of the former King’s College site in Kidderpore Avenue.

Actor Tom Conti, television presenter Esther Rantzen joined a demonstration against plans from developer Mount Anvil for the northern part of the former student residence which they bought in October 2014.

The site currently houses the Grade II-listed Kidderpore Hall, a white Grecian-style building dating back to 1843, standing in two acres and a classical chapel and summer house

Other buildings include the Maynard Wing dating back to 1889 and the Skeel Library. Under the new plans, Mount Anvil will convert the site into 156 residential units made up of three new four and five storey buildings with another ten town houses, demolishing three existing buildings.

The five listed buildings in the site are to be refurbished and extended into luxury homes.

A two-storey basement car park with 97 spaces will also be built.

Most Read

The site has been designated by Camden Council as a Grade II Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) for its wide range of trees and shrubs which attract insects and birds.

Actor Tom Conti said after the meeting: “This decision is no surprise from a council which puts developers before its residents. We need green spaces and the idea that this will become an underground car park bringing 97 more cars into Hampstead streets will all add to the hell.”

Local vicar the Rev. Alistair Tresidder, of St Luke’s Church, had written a letter of objection to the scheme which he said would turn Hampstead into a “rich Ghetto” and put huge pressure on local school places.

He wrote: “Of course there must be redevelopment - this is a city- but please can this development be much more modest and mixed mode - socially, so that it does become a rich only ghetto and educationally so that children can be walked safely to school; environmentally so that the bats who fly in my back garden can continue to fly in and out the trees as they have done for a century.”

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The decision by Camden planners is entirely predictable, ignoring of all those who will be most affected by the decision and a prediction of huge shortage of local primary places in about three years time.

“Our admissions meeting at St.Luke’s School this morning sifted through 114 applications for 15 places. Enough said. I also thought Camden was trying to discourage more cars in the borough.”

Nancy Mayo, secretary of Redington Frognal Conservation Neighbourhood Forum, who had led the protest, said: “It is unfortunate that this application was submitted before our Redington Frognal neighbourhood plan could be in place. However, we are progressing well with the plan and have reached the policy drafting stage. With the support of residents, a confirmed neighbourhood plan will be able to prevent other inappropriate planning applications in the future.”

A spokesman for Mount Anvil said: “As outlined in the Committee report, one in five homes on the site will be affordable. Eighty per cent of those will be for social rent, and 60pc are family-size homes. This recognises the high complexity involved in sensitively restoring and conserving five dilapidated Grade II-listed buildings.”

““Kidderpore is a beautiful, historic and highly complex site. Over the last year we have consulted extensively, working in collaboration with the council, local residents and community groups to develop a carefully considered, holistic plan for the site.

As well as providing more than £4million to fund improvements within the borough of Camden, our proposed redevelopment will see the sensitive restoration of several dilapidated Grade II listed buildings, create much-needed high-quality new homes – both for private sale and affordable, and open up previously private gardens for public use, ensuring a positive lasting legacy for the whole community.

“The biodiversity of the site will also be much improved. Additional shrubs and hedgerows will be planted, a new pond will be introduced, a biodiverse green roof will be installed, and more than 25 new trees will be planted on-site as well as additional trees within the Redington and Frognal Conservation Area. The currently dilapidated Grade II listed Summer House will also be restored, to be used as an arts and wildlife education resource for local schools and the community.”