Strict new planning rules anger residents
PUBLISHED: 12:12 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 07 September 2010
Katie Davies NEW RULES will ban hundreds of Hampstead residents from making minor changes to their homes, such as painting their front doors or putting up satellite dishes. On Monday, Camden Council approved plans to stop residents in Belsize, Hampstead
NEW RULES will ban hundreds of Hampstead residents from making minor changes to their homes, such as painting their front doors or putting up satellite dishes.
On Monday, Camden Council approved plans to stop residents in Belsize, Hampstead and Swiss Cottage conservation areas from making even small alterations to their properties without first being granted planning permission.
The change is intended to cut the number of people 'spoiling' the area's homes. It has to win public approval but has the backing of conservation groups including the Heath and Hampstead Society and Belsize Residents Association.
"Clearly we don't want to see the rights of the Englishman and his castle taken away - but instead we will be protecting that castle," said environment boss Cllr Chris Knight. "The erosion of property across the conservation areas has been going on for many years and it is noticeable, particularly in the Belsize area. In my view these plans are long overdue."
Hampstead councillor Linda Chung said: "No doubt there will be one or two developers who are not happy but I think residents will be so supportive they will trample their views."
Other changes coming under council control include the revamp of windows, garden walls, porches, gates, the installation of solar panels and painting the fronts of houses. These changes can currently be made without the often expensive and lengthy process of applying for planning permission.
Gene Adams from Belsize Conservation Area advisory committee said: "People need to be told that once they do something to a building it is very difficult to undo.
"You have rich people coming in to these desirable houses and they don't realise that people here have been fighting to preserve their appeal.
"If only they realised that it's in their interest to protect them, they would stop themselves. Often it is a case of what's in fashion - people may think a house will be nice in pink, but it won't."
The battle is one of many pitting established residents against new wealthy developers. Last week the council revealed it was banning basements deeper than three metres (10ft) - the latest fad among new residents looking for added gym or living space.
Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Tony Hillier said: "These things do make an impact on Hampstead. We also have rules against estate agents' boards, rules about how large yellow lines can be on the roads - these things have a cumulative detrimental effect on the style and history of the area."
Society member Martin Humphery added: "There are too many houses which have been destroyed by changes to doors or by painting, and that sort of thing."
However, some residents are already in opposition. Kas Jalalband, 57, of Pond Street, said: "It sounds like a waste of time, money and energy and it restricts people too much. I imagine the public won't just sit back and let this happen. It's totally silly."
The Holly Lodge Estate in Highgate is also in line to get a version of the new rules.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.