Heath and Hampstead Society fears over how new London Plan could spell disaster for Hampstead

School children & local residents march around Hampstead to protest over New End Nurses Home develop

School children & local residents march around Hampstead to protest over New End Nurses Home development - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Conservationist have slammed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s draft London Plan as a threat to the future of historic Hampstead and the surrounding area.

Sian Berry AM is concerned about the impact of the London Plan on garden spaces

Sian Berry AM is concerned about the impact of the London Plan on garden spaces - Credit: Green Party

The Heath & Hampstead Society (HOHS) is concerned that the housing chapter of the guidelines which will govern the planning rules for the next decade for London could end up threatening conservation areas across the capital.

The section in the plan is centered around encouraging new housing builds. The plan says Camden needs to build a further 10,860 houses to meet current demand. Around 50 per cent need to be “genuinely affordable.”

The plan was first drawn up in 2017, after a two month consultation the previous year.

A four-month consultation on the draft plan, finished in March.

Described by the Mayor of London’s office as “one of the most important documents for the City”, it will shape how London’s planning decisions are made.

When it has been adopted, all future planning decisions will have to comply with the plan. It also sets a framework for local plans across London.

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Currently the mayor’s office has power over plans of potential strategic importance. Applications are referred to his office if it is a development of 150 residential units or more, a development more than 30 metres in height, or development on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land.

Once a plan has been referred, the mayor has six weeks to comment on the plan, before giving a final decision.

As part of the plan there will be a “presumption in favour of development” of all applications which provide between one and 25 houses, and involve the “demolition and redevelopment of existing buildings,” and “upward development.”

David Castle, chairman of the HOHS planning sub-committee said the draft plan, if unamended could spell disaster for Hampstead.

“The objectives of Policy H2, to encourage housing infill and development are laudable – though in Hampstead there is so much money to be made by developers that they need little encouragement in producing luxury housing for the rich.

“Parts of Policy H2 of the draft London Plan issued recently by the Mayor, unless amended, could have a disastrous effect on most Conservation Areas though, of course, we are particularly concerned about those in Hampstead.”

A later clause in the housing section says special attention will be required within conservation areas, to ensure “housing provision is accommodated in a way that also complements and enhances an area.”

However Mr Castle believes the plan’s protection isn’t sufficient.

“We’re aware of 4.2.7 mentioning conservation areas, but this gives little protection. We have noted in the past few years that all applicants and their legal and professional teams will state their proposal ‘enhances’ an area, and if more dwellings result, inspectors will usually decide in favour of demolition.”

“We have found it very difficult in the past to save structurally sound buildings which contribute to a conservation area from demolition and some areas have been devastated by gradual demolition when in many cases conversion of an existing building rather than demolition would provide an increase in dwelling numbers.”

In their response to the plan, Camden Council said it was supportive, and the Draft London Plan is “an endorsement of the council’s progressive policy approach.”

Tne Heath & Hampstead Society was set up in 1897 to preserve the wild and natural state of the Heath and to maintain the character and amenities of Hampstead.

It has previously fought campaigns against the carving up of Heath House into flats and the controversial New End development.

Highgate councillor, and London Assembly member Sian Berry shares the society’s concerns about future developments on green space.

“The change in presumption against development in people’s gardens is a worry, especially as there’s no link between that and it being new housing units.

“It means people could potentially just extend their already large house into their garden and get easier planning permission for it. These green spaces are really important and they should have more protection.”