Space-age bronze house can be built

A RADICAL, ultra-modern home in Belsize Park has been given the green light after the architect changed its cladding from zinc to bronze

Marc Mullen

A RADICAL, ultra-modern home in Belsize Park has been given the green light after the architect changed its cladding from zinc to bronze.

Councillors have approved Ian Wilson's plans to demolish the post-war house at 28 Belsize Lane and replace it with a space-age home.

The property was previously owned by Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown but in recent years has fallen into disrepair.

Hampstead councillor Chris Knight, who voted in favour of the new plans at a development-control meeting on Thursday, was impressed with Mr Wilson's proposals.

He said: "The existing house is an eyesore and needed to be dealt with. It does not fit in with Belsize Court or the Victorian houses on Belsize Lane or Hunter's Lodge opposite.

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"I think this is an extremely interesting design. It is well thought out. All that needs to be followed up are the exact details of the finish, which is what has been agreed."

He added: "I do have sympathy with neighbours regarding the size of the basement and the work that will be involved, with trucks removing the soil, but there is little we can do about that from a planning point of view."

The sharply angled bronze-clad house has been designed by Alison Brooks Architects, which is on the shortlist of designers for the athletes' village in the 2012 Olympics.

The two-storey, six-bedroom house will be 70 per cent bigger than the existing one and will have an underground swimming pool.

In November the architects withdrew initial designs and last month the council rejected the plans because the house would be clad in zinc - which is considered an "alien material." The council received 12 letters from neighbours - eight supporting the design and four objecting.

The Belsize Conservation Area Advisory Committee wrote in favour, describing the new building as "a well-considered design which fits well in its context and accords to the local character of the conservation area".

However, the Belsize Residents Association disapproved of the basement and the overall design.

Their planning officer, Gordon Maclean, said: "There is very little difference to the previous proposal. We continue to object to the bizarre, ugly proposals with bronze or zinc cladding options.

"There has been no attempt to relate the design to the adjacent houses or anything else within the conservation area. The architecture is formless without design discipline or style, and with no local precedent for the material options." However, council planning officers recommended the new design, and branded the existing house's "70s chalet-style" design as being of "no merit."

The planning officer wrote: "It is considered that the proposed house in its form and design arguably represents an enhancement to the conservation area to a greater extent than the existing house."