Surgeon’s new Camden eco-home under investigation over noise and social distancing complaints
PUBLISHED: 11:26 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:14 05 June 2020
Top doctor James Youngman’s dream of building an eco-home has sparked investigations into planning and social distancing breaches after his new neighbours complained.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Camden Council both confirmed they were investigating complaints about a Harley Street doctor’s construction project.
Dr James Youngman is building a house off Brecknock Road and Montpelier Grove – where the average house price is almost £800,000.
The development was issued a Section 60 notice, which places limits on noise, in May for “excessive noise outside permitted working hours” - and now the council is investigating again.
More than two-dozen neighbours – represented by a TV producer – have signed a petition complaining about noise and lack of social distancing.
Dr Youngman – a leading orthopaedic surgeon whose patients include Olympic sprinter James Ellington – was granted permission in 2018 to build a bungalow in the back gardens of three properties in Brecknock Road, facing onto Montpelier Grove.
In 2019 his son Leo obtained permission to build a two-storey, four-bedroom home covering even more of the gardens.
Now the project is under way, Dr Youngman’s name appears as the developer on signs at the construction site.
vPPR Architects describes the project as a “new low carbon emission home” being built on “three under-utilised back gardens”. It will feature “two triangular double-height livings spaces... clad with charred timber boards to achieve a contemporary yet subtle appearance”.
Planning files show a handful of neighbours objected to the planning application, with one describing the 230-square-metre house as a ‘vanity project’ which was depleting the area’s green space by paving over gardens.
But since works began, more than 25 neighbours have complained about noise from the construction site, claiming it begins shortly after 7am.
Residents have also photographed workers at the site allegedly failing to adhere to social distancing rules.
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TV worker Nora Meyer, who is acting as their spokesman, said: “Most of my neighbours are social tenants or residents of the St Mungo’s hostel... As a house-owner and freeholder, I am secure about raising concerns with the council and authorities, so felt a responsibility to represent our collective interest.”
When the Ham&High contacted Adriatic Selmani, whose firm Selmani Building Limited is erecting the property, he alleged Mrs Meyer was trying to turn the planning row into a documentary.
Mrs Meyer has worked as a researcher on BAFTA-winning Simon Pegg film Hot Fuzz, a consultant on Oscar nominated Baby Driver and is now a story producer for TV.
She has also produced and directed documentaries, including 2007’s Oona & Me, in which she followed around her childhood friend Oona King MP – now Baroness King of Bow.
But Mrs Meyer said: “Selmani is mistaken. I am not making a documentary.”
She said she had just taken photos and videos as evidence to support complaints.
Camden councillor Danny Beales said: “A section 60 notice has been served on the company responsible for the works, for making excessive noise outside permitted working hours.
“Alongside this, the council’s planning enforcement team are investigating to ensure the site is working in line with the agreed construction management plan and are liaising with residents to collate evidence on any breaches and monitor the site.”
But Mr Selmani claimed he had no knowledge of the council finding fault with noise levels, saying: “We do not work outside of permitted hours, end of. The noise from the site is not excessive.”
He insisted social distancing rules were being followed and urged neighbours to stop “wasting everyone’s time with this nonsense”.
Dr Youngman, however, said he was aware of the council and HSE investigations and would “respond with any information needed to keep the site compliant.”
He said: “The photos show transient proximity that appears closer than advised and we thank our thoughtful neighbour for highlighting this apparent lapse.
“We continue to use gel hand sanitiser and gloves and our team have a good supply of protective equipment, including masks. The site is in open air with no work being undertaken in confined enclosed spaces.
“I have ensured that the workers understand the importance of minimising all risks on site.”
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