Plans for Swain’s Lane shopping parade are ‘as in your face as ever’, critic claims

The latest plans to knock down and rebuild a Highgate shopping parade are “as in your face as anything ever proposed”, a prominent critic of the scheme has claimed.

Patrick Lefevre, chairman of the Dartmouth Park Conversation Area Advisory Committee, spoke out passionately against proposals from the site’s owner, the Earl of Listowel, to overhaul the Swain’s Lane parade at a public meeting on Monday.

Mr Lefevre, who is also a member of the Save Swain’s Lane Steering Committee, although he was not speaking on its behalf, urged residents to “go in hard” in order to secure further changes to the plan.

He was speaking to around 100 residents who crowded into St Anne’s Church in Highgate West Hill, Highgate, to look at mock-up images of the two proposed three-storey buildings, one of which would drop to two storeys at the corner of Swain’s Lane and Highgate West Hill.

The Dartmouth Park resident, of Dartmouth Park Road, said: “The building is as in your face as anything they have ever proposed.

“We agreed to engage with Lord Listowel because the shopping centre was at risk. But they have done nothing more than take us back to where we got to in 2003 [when another application for a three-storey development was withdrawn].

“We have to strike hard and fast. We should go in hard to get the changes we want.”

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The two buildings would house 13 private flats and eight shops under the latest designs. They have been unveiled just over a year after proposals for two four-storey buildings were met with fierce opposition from the community.

Several residents at the meeting said that Lord Listowel’s design team had ignored feedback from the community.

Some expressed disappointment that the proposals do not include a mansard roof and that the buildings would not be made of brick, though a couple said the designs were a marked improvement on previous proposals.

Steve Tompkins, an architect and a member of the Save Swain’s Lane Steering Committee, said: “The site ­deserves a more beautiful and more skilful kind of architecture, but do we try and stop the scheme and drive it into the ditch or do we try our best to tweak it in the circumstances?”

A spokesman for Lord Listowel’s ­design team said: “It was most productive to hear the positive and negative local response at the recent public meeting.

“The submitted scheme takes on board the needs of Lord Listowel, the council and the community.

“The design team are pleased with the scheme and will now be working with the council to obtain planning permission as soon as possible, taking into account the views expressed through the statutory consultation process.”

Plans have been submitted to Camden Council and residents have three weeks to make comments online.