'Why come to planning committee?' Councillors unable to reject West Hampstead development

Camden Council's temporary town hall at the Crowndale Centre. Picture: Creative Commons/Philafrenzy

Camden Council's temporary town hall at the Crowndale Centre. Picture: Creative Commons/Philafrenzy - Credit: Archant

More than 90 households in West Hampstead will endure building works in a development which councillors have no planning authority to reject. 

Councillors at a planning committee meeting were told on Thursday (April 7) that because Beaufort Court meets government criteria for prior approval, the developer does not need to submit a planning application. 

Sixteen new flats are to be built on top of Beaufort Court, a five-storey residential building in Maygrove Road, by developer Avon Ground Rents Ltd. 

Cllr Anna Wright (Lab, Highgate) asked for someone to "help us understand what the nature of our decision is here". 

She asked whether there was "nothing we can do about the things we don't like", saying she had sympathy with residents opposing the development, adding: "Why come to planning committee?"

Bethany Cullen, head of development management, said: "Because the number of units is over 10 so technically its still triggers a requirement to come to committee. I know it's frustrating."

Alex Rogansky told the meeting, via video link, that the development would cause "significant noise and disturbance" for residents working from home.

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He said: "It's appropriate to remind the council of the 91 families many with babies and young children apparently living in Beaufort Court, whose quality of life and mental wellbeing will be severely affected if the committee allows this disruptive development to go ahead.

"Is it really worth having 16 flats, none of which will be affordable, at the expense of of the 91 flat owners being unable to mortgage or sell their properties?"

Cllr Peter Taheri (Lab, West Hampstead) said: "It's with great express regret and sadness that the national government changes to the GPDO (general permitted development) position make it so difficult for us on the committee to stop them building an extra floor."

He asked whether the developer could voluntarily include affordable housing in their plan. 

James Waterhouse, for the applicant, said he did engage with residents from Fortune Green and West Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum. He did not comment on the lack of affordable housing. 

"The committee can be assured this development will be in compliance with the latest building regulations," he said.

The application received six votes in favour, four against and two abstentions.