Terry Jones joins protesters hoping to stop developers in their tracks

SWIMMERS, residents and community leaders are furious the council is set to approve developers' plans to send 24-tonne trucks down a dirt track on the edge of Hampstead Heath

Marc Mullen

SWIMMERS, residents and community leaders are furious the council is set to approve developers' plans to send 24-tonne trucks down a dirt track on the edge of Hampstead Heath.

Millament, an Isle of Man-based developer, was granted permission in January to demolish Fitzroy Farm in Fitzroy Park and replace it with a neo-classical pile nearly three times the size of the existing house with a 10-metre deep two-storey basement and swimming pool.

To build the mansion, the developer needs to make some 1,600 trips down Millfield Lane with a truck to remove soil and deliver concrete, leaving neighbours and Heath users furious.

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But despite the objections of 37 neighbours, Highgate councillors, the Highgate Society, Highgate Conservation Area Advisory Committee, Fitzroy Park Residents' Association, Parliament Hill Lido Users Group and the City of London Corporation which manages Hampstead Heath, council planners have recommended councillors approve the project at tonight's planning meeting.

Harley Atkinson, who lives in Fitzroy Park, said: "I honestly don't think the plan is capable of being made to work.

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"There is so much missing from the plan I do not see how it can possibly be approved - they haven't proposed any way of segregating the trucks from children, pedestrians and cyclists or minimising the impact of the work by recycling some of the materials on site.

"If you read the rest of the council document it makes a very good case for rejecting the plans - the conclusion does not follow from the report."

If the plans are approved, trucks would be using the track for 18 months.

Millament has told the council it will place a marshall at the entrance to Millfield Lane, advising truck drivers when it is safe to proceed, and will have a "banksman" walking in front of any deliveries.

Heath superintendent Simon Lee said: "The City of London has a duty to maintain the Heath and to protect and preserve its amenity and character for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

"Millfield Lane is used extensively and is a major gateway to the Heath and the main access to the ladies pond - a facility that can attract more than 3,000 users on hot summer days.

"The large number of vehicular movements represents a very significant risk to users of the Heath and the City is opposed to any use being made of this narrow unmade rural lane."

Residents have set up a website www.fitzroyfarm.com, where Heath users can register their opposition.

Monty Python star Terry Jones joined protestors two weeks ago, when they hired a 24-tonne truck to show the extent of the problem.

Vaughan Thomas, who lives in Fitzroy Park and set up the website, said: "I cannot believe they have recommended this for approval.

"We have now had in the region of 450 emails sent to us, by people who have been quite passionate in their opposition. We have had some from fourth generation Heath users. I hope the councillors see sense."

o See the Ham&High's website at www.hamhigh.co.uk tomorrow for the planning decision.


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