Plans go back in – for the sixth time

A DEVELOPER who has spent 10 years and thousands of pounds on failed planning applications hopes it will be sixth time lucky before the council tonight

Marc Mullen

A DEVELOPER who has spent 10 years and thousands of pounds on failed planning applications hopes it will be sixth time lucky before the council tonight.

Gary Hodes' plans to build a coach house at the entrance to Hodes Row, off Estelle Road, in South End Green were first thwarted by Camden Council in November 1998.

Last December his plans were rejected because his proposals for rear balconies would overlook neighbouring properties.

Councillors will vote on his latest proposals at tonight's planning committee meeting, and they have been recommended to grant approval by planning officers.

Despite 120 objections from neighbours and the Mansfield Neighbourhood Association (MNA) and Mansfield Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CAAC), Mr Hodes is hopeful the plans will finally become a reality.

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"It's cost me many thousands of pounds in architects' fees, planning consultants and interest on capital. I have lost track of how much exactly," he said.

"It is an inoffensive building now. I will admit I made a mistake in the past, but this is a much more considered submission, and for that reason I am quite hopeful.

"If it is approved I hope that in time people will get used to it and realise that the fear of this thing far exceeds the reality."

The plans, which were rejected in March last year, were for a modern concrete and stained glass building, which councillors said was out of keeping with the area.

His latest proposal is for a four-storey "modern interpretation of the existing Victorian houses", which would be next door to the property.

Chris Fagg, chairman of the MNA, said the proposal is "unbuildable".

And Gospel Oak councillor Chris Philp will speak at tonight's meeting against the plans.

He said: "It is unbelievable he has come back again. It is ridiculous. This guy is wasting public money.

"I think he is trying to wear down planners and residents with these constant applications.

"He has made cosmetic changes to what is a ridiculously shaped building, which does not enhance or preserve the character of the area."

Mr Hodes says the house is for his son. The secluded mews was named after him by the developer who sold him the site of a former dairy.

He said: "It is a source of enormous embarrassment to me. I tell people I am not in the phone directory, but I am in the A to Z."

Melanie Cooke, who lives next door to the proposed house, remains unimpressed: "Mr Hodes can hire all the sunlight specialists he likes, but they can't make the sun shine through bricks.

"His building will forever block the beautiful sunrises which fill my room with a fantastic light, allowing me to work before my daughter gets up for school.

"It's the most used room in the flat and this light will quite literally disappear if this property is built. I may as well go and work in the cellar."