Primrose Hill leaseholders celebrate as Camden planners block controversial Barrie House extension

Barrie House, Primrose Hill. Picture: Google

Barrie House, Primrose Hill. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A week ago today (Thurs), Camden’s planning committee rejected a recommendation to approve a controversial development at Barrie House in Primrose Hill.

Freeholder Robert Morley had hoped to build nine new flats adjacent to the existing block, but councillors voted four to three against the plans, which a group of leaseholders had opposed.

Their opposition was based on concerns their homes would be overlooked by an “outrageous” over-development.

The decision was greeted with cheer by leaseholders including Alain Gherson, who has owned a flat in the block since 2013.

He told this newspaper: “We won! We will have to be vigilant but the freeholder will at least have to submit new plans now.”

The councillors who rejected the plans justified their votes on the grounds that the project failed to “protect the amenity of community occupiers and neighbours particularly by reference to outlook and the increased sense of enclosure”.

Mr Morley was expected to appeal the decision.

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Before the meeting, the Barrie House Leaseholders Group had written to the committee to emphasise the vulnerability of leaseholders, including one who feared their adult son – who has autism – would have been unable to visit his father, who has serious health concerns of his own.

Cllr Leo Cassarani (Lab, Swiss Cottage) backed the leaseholders.

Beforehand he told this newspaper: “To me, it just seems outrageous. And there are all the stories about how people’s health would be affected.

“I get the impression that the freeholder has done the absolute least possible statutory consultation.”

Cllr Cassarani added that the leaseholders “are certainly not NIMBYs” and pointed to the acceptance of previous plans to build a family home on the site.

Mr Morley told the Ham&High: “Of course I have sympathy for the people affected.

”Particularly for the three flats which would have the views from one of their windows affected.”

Had the plans been approved, he envisaged the work – “a fairly straightforward project” – could have been completed inside a year.

But the leaseholders group had disagreed. One resident who did not wish to be named for health reasons told this paper her fear was that the development would “be far too close and turn our homes into a building site for however long”.

Members of the planning committee agreed with leaseholders that the proximity of the new building to Barrie House was a reason to block the plans.