Protest at house plan for old parish jail site in Daphne du Maurier’s former garden

Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a new three-storey house with a basement swimming pool on the site of the historic Hampstead parish jail will damage a “special” part of the Hampstead Conservation Area and put local children in danger, say neighbours.

Parish lock up in Cannon Lane

Parish lock up in Cannon Lane - Credit: Archant

They are objecting to the plans from Greenway Architects for a new six-bedroom “low energy” house to replace an existing low-profile modern one-storey home built in the 1980s.

The new basement will house a pool, gym, wine cellar and utility space. Staff quarters will also be built above the old jail.

The Grade-II listed lock-up, in Cannon Lane, dates back to 1730 and was where prisoners were kept after appearing at the local magistrates court in 18th century mansion Cannon Hall, which later became the home of novelist Daphne du Maurier.

The site is part of the original gardens of Cannon Hall, which once boasted a fruit orchard and a maze and was sold to developers in the 1980s.

Kate Tilbury, of Well Road, who has met with neighbours to discuss their concerns, said: “This is a historically significant and special part of Hampstead and hence a conservation area. The Old Parish Lock-Up is set within a listed wall. We are concerned that they are proposing to knock down part of the wall to give builders access.”

Neighbours are also concerned about the danger to local schoolchildren from construction lorries, along with two other new developments in the area on the site of a former nurses’ home at New End, and another in Well Road.

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Ms Tilbury sad: “We have three primary schools and one nursery in the immediate vicinity. The cumulative effect of these developments have not been thought through and could result in a very dangerous situation for children.

“Well Road is used by Heathside School every day to access their play area on the Heath. The children walk down Well Road and turn right down Well Passage opposite this site.”

They also fear that HGV lorries having access to the all three sites through narrow streets will cause traffic chaos. The application was submitted by Greenway Architects at the end of January.

Architect Alex Greenway, whose father built the original house in the 1980s and who grew up there, stressed that the proposed house was well within the profile of the existing building and was no taller.

He said its footprint was in fact smaller, reclaiming part of the land back as gardens.

He said there was already a basement and swimming pool on the site and in terms of traffic to the location, a strict construction management plan would be adhered to.