Proposed development will ‘ruin tranquility’ of Heath ponds

Furious Hampstead Heath users have renewed their battle to stop the tranquillity of the ponds being destroyed - after building plans were put forward which will bring heavy lorries to the edge of the beauty spot.

Owners of the Waterhouse, which lies behind the Ladies Pond, want to tear down their home to make way for a modernist two-storey building with a basement.

But the house can only be accessed by Millfield Lane - a small, quiet track used by thousands of walkers and swimmers to access the Heath and its ponds.

Critics have warned if the development is approved, lorries will choke the path destroying the cherished peaceful environment.

But the owners of the Waterhouse insists that no more than six lorries will visit the house each day.

Denise Martyn, who swims in the pond nearly everyday in summer, said: “It is going to be horrendous. It is destroying what is meant to be the peaceful experience of the ponds.

“The only access to the house is via Millfield Lane. So yet again there will be the threat of heavy lorries going down the lane and causing extensive disruption to the thousands of walkers and swimmers who use the lane every year.

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“The whole ethos of the Ladies Pond is that it is meant to be an oasis of calm, but this will spoil it.”

But Paul Munford, who owns the Waterhouse, said the safety of Heath users was “paramount”.

He said that every lorry will be flanked by a marshal and stop when someone passes.

He said: “It is a tranquil and sensitive area. But the only means of access I have to my home is by Millfield Lane.

“This house is at the end of its life and has to be rebuilt. This is a scheme of architecturally high quality in an area of varied and outstanding architecture.”

The controversial application follows a protracted battle by owners of the neighbouring mansion, Fitzroy Farm, to renovate their property.

They eventually won planning permission last year - only when they agreed not to use Millfield Lane after residents physically blocked the route in a protest.

Conservationists have urged City of London Corporation, which owns half of Millfield Lane and runs Hampstead Heath, to consider blocking use of the lane.

Michael Hammerson, environment committee chairman of the Highgate Society, said: “City of London must consider whether allowing them to use this path is acceptable.

“On that site there are established underground streams and this could damage them and increase the risk of flooding.”