Downton Abbey’s Carson joins West Hampstead protest

Actor Jim Carter joins the "Stop the Blocks!" campaign demonstration in West Hampstead

Actor Jim Carter joins the "Stop the Blocks!" campaign demonstration in West Hampstead - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Actor Jim Carter, who plays Carson in Downton Abbey, joined protestors in West Hampstead in their bid to prevent a pair of six and seven storey tower blocks being built on their doorstep.

Actor Jim Carter, who plays Carson in Downton Abbey, joined protestors in West Hampstead in their bid to prevent a pair of six and seven storey tower blocks being built on their doorstep.

Mr Carter was supporting his neighbours at the Travis Perkins site in West End Lane, where Camden Council have sold off land to private developers A2Dominion, who plan to erect the blocks.

Residents say the proposed development would be totally inappropriate in the surrounding conservation area, and have vowed to fight the plans “tooth and nail”.

At Saturday’s protest, a cherry picker was raised to illustrate the height of the proposed development.


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And whilst his conservative character, Carson, is happy to know his place as a servant, the actor displayed a more radical, fighting spirit, as he told the Ham and High:

“Seeing this graphically displayed by this cherry picker, it just seems insane, doesn’t it? This is 25 meters high and the impact, not just on Lymington Road, is ridiculous, totally out of proportion in the area.

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“We’re getting hemmed in by development more and more, and it doesn’t seem to take into account the local infrastructure, the transport system, the need for affordable housing – it just doesn’t seem to take into account anything of this local area or the local character.

“What makes West Hampstead so special is it’s an urban area, but it’s domestic and it’s mixed. It’s a complete mixture socially of people and we’ve got to try and preserve that to preserve the character of the area.

He said he remained hopeful the council would listen to people’s concerns, and referred to the promise of a new kind of politics from Labour’s recently elected leader.

“What does Jeremy Corbyn say? A more caring society. So let’s have a bit of that, let’s have a bit of thought and care go into these things, so it’s not just about making money and utilising the fact that the Jubilee Line goes down here so people with money working in the city can get down here.

“We do need housing, but it’s got to be the right kind of housing, and affordable housing. Where are teachers and nurses and young people supposed to live?”

Residents met with the developer’s representatives at a council-organised meeting on Tuesday to voice their objections to the proposals, which they argue contravene the council’s own planning laws and should be refused permission.

Some who attended the meeting said they were left with more questions than answers.

Johnny Farmer, branch manager at Travis Perkins, said: “Travis Perkins, like a great many people, simply wants some straight answers to some straight questions. We want to know why the Council thinks a scheme like this is acceptable in a location like this and why Camden Council is applying its own planning policies differently here to the way it applies them to third party developers in other parts of the borough?

“There’s a very real probity and consistency point and it’s crucial that it’s answered. No-one from the Council was prepared to answer the question last night. We would also like to know more about the 78 new jobs the scheme says will be created – what about the 30+ employees we have? Has anyone thought about the effects on them and their families?”

A2Dominion said the company was listening to the concerns of residents and had reduced the proposed number of units from 191 down to 163.

A spokesperson for A2D said: “Rents of affordable homes at the scheme will be in line with Camden Council’s Housing Policy and the sale of shared ownership homes will be prioritised for people either living or working in the borough on incomes set in line with its affordability criteria and the Mayor’s London Plan.

“A2Dominion’s plans for the site meet key objectives of the new Neighbourhood Development Plan, which sets out how the West Hampstead and Fortune Green wards will develop over time as well as the priorities of Camden Council’s Local Plan.

This is alongside the high proportion of affordable three and four-bedroom family-sized housing and apartments for tenants who currently under-occupy existing council properties and new employment opportunities.”

Camden Council has defended its decision to sell off the land – which used to house council offices - saying it needs to raise capital because of government cuts.

Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for regeneration, has stated that as a condition of sale, fifty per cent of the homes provided by A2Dominion should be classed as “affordable” – although it is unclear at this stage exactly what percentage of the units will be social housing, as opposed to “affordable”, which can mean up to eighty per cent of market rate.

The proposed development will not go before the planning committee until next year.

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