Town hall blocks bid to transform street’s eyesore

THE future of a half-demolished Hampstead house is back in doubt after a family s grand designs were refused by Camden Council

Marc Mullen

THE future of a half-demolished Hampstead house is back in doubt after a family's grand designs were refused by Camden Council.

Barry McKay bought Vine Cottage on Gayton Road for £850,000 at auction last September.

And neighbours hoped the move would bring an end to the house's chequered history.

The house was left abandoned and in a state in 2001 by previous owner Ines De Carzalho Ferreira after Camden Council called a halt to a second storey extension that did not have planning permission.

After years of the house being left to decay and ruin, Mr McKay seemed to come to the rescue with plans to pull it down and build a new one. He had the full backing of neighbours and the Gayton Residents' Association - but Camden Council has this week thrown out his scheme.

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Mr McKay said: "I have had enough and have now agreed to sell the house. We have made a substantial loss. We spent thousands of pounds making the application.

"The previous owner was turned down for planning permission because she wanted to have a building covering the whole site. Ours was nothing like that."

Mr McKay's application was for a four-bedroom, three-storey L-shaped modern house built around a basement courtyard.

He presented his plans to the residents' association's AGM last month and promised to modify his plans for timber cladding.

And in December, Dr Michael Black, the association's life president, sent a letter in support of the application.

He wrote: "I have no objections to the plans proposed.

"The site has been an eyesore now for as long as I can remember and it would be a blessing if it could be restored into a respectable family dwelling."

But two weeks ago, Mr McKay received notice that his plans had been refused because of "inappropriate design which would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area".

Residents are furious that the site will remain a blight on their leafy street. Phil Peters, from Gayton Road, said: "We have just been slapped in the face by Camden Council. There was an issue with a tree which would be lost but he promised to replace it in full. This is council democracy in action."

Residents are also unhappy that planning officers made the decision rather than putting the plans before elected councillors.

Hampstead councillor Mike Greene said: "If it had come before me, I would almost certainly have voted against it.

"Although I am sure there are residents who did think the design was reasonably good, there are others who are more influenced by just what a mess the site is now.

"I would rather have a few more months of a mess than 100 years of an eyesore.