Plan to demolish ‘affordable’ Hampstead flats prompts petition

26 Netherhall Gardens. Picture: Josh Exell

26 Netherhall Gardens. Picture: Josh Exell - Credit: Archant

A petition has been started to prevent the demolition of a Victorian building in a Hampstead conservation area.

Planning permission was submitted earlier this month to destroy the five-flat, four-storey house in Netherhall Gardens and replace it with a new four-storey building with basement and sub-basement.

Applicants Dome Assets Ltd had a similar plan dismissed by Camden Council last year on a variety of grounds, including heritage, biodiversity, light obstruction and tree preservation.

Now the new application – for four two-bedroom flats and one three-bedroom flat – has attracted objections from neighbours, current tenants and the Heath and Hampstead Society.

The petition, started by photographer Josh Exell, states that the building provides “affordable housing for 17 young Londoners”, among them artists, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and students.

It goes on: “The loss of this diversification of the area to the development of non affordable, luxury flats, would push us out of the area as affordable housing in the Camden borough is becoming scarce.”

It was started on Tuesday and already has more than 170 signatures. Mr Exell, 26, who has lived in the house for four and a half years, said he would be forced to leave Hampstead if the plan went ahead.

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Other worries highlighted in the petition include balconies overlooking neighbouring homes, loss of light and destruction of trees.

Historic England has already said it does not need to be notified about the application, but the Netherhall Neighbourhood Association has submitted an objection.

Stephen Williams, writing on behalf of the association, explained: “There is no justification for the demolition of the building where sensitive restoration, modification to the interior and sensitive remodelling of inappropriate extensions can be made.”

Mr Williams also objected to the proposed demolition on the grounds of the building being a “positive contributor” to the Fitzjohn’s/Netherhall Conservation Area.

The Heath and Hampstead Society has also expressed its displeasure with the proposal, explaining the council was “right to have refused the previous application”.

It added: “[The development] most certainly has no pretensions of matching the existing building in style, proportion, scale or detail. Our Conservation Area would be harmed gravely by it, seen side-by-side with its other locally listed buildings.”

But Peter Stewart Consultancy, which carried out a heritage assessment for the developers, fundamentally disgreed.

It explained: “[The building] is of mediocre architectural quality that has an unsatisfactory relationship with its surroundings today. It has been compromised by

alterations, including the excavation of the front garden to reveal the basement level.

It adds that the proposed development would “positively address” Netherhall Gardens with its “considered elevational design”.

Neighbour Annabel Bacall, however, told the Ham&High she worries that if the development goes ahead it will further diminish Hampstead’s “bohemian” character.

She said: “I’ve lived in Hampstead for 20 years and I’ve seen a massive difference in the area over the last seven years.

“It used to be a much more bohemian place. You go to a cafe now on High Street and all you see are boring people.

“It’s all money, money, money.”

The petition can be found at