'UFO' lights at Royal Free keep residents awake

NEON lighting from the new entrance at the Royal Free Hospital makes it feel like a UFO has landed next door, angry residents have claimed. The �5million entrance was officially opened on March 8 but with its bright blue and white lights pierc

Tan Parsons

NEON lighting from the new entrance at the Royal Free Hospital makes it feel like a UFO has landed next door, angry residents have claimed.

The �5million entrance was officially opened on March 8 but with its bright blue and white lights piercing the night skies, people living in Pond Street are being forced to keep their shutters completely closed to prevent their homes being illuminated all night long.

Piano teacher Bettina Blume, pictured above right, lives opposite the Royal Free entrance with her husband Norbert and son Raphael.


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She said: "In the day it's okay but as soon as it gets dark we have to close our shutters.

"It feels like a UFO has landed in front of our house.

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"There was no consultation at all with residents while the Royal Free's facelift was being planned. I wrote to the hospital to complain more than a month ago but we have not heard anything back."

She says the family next door have four young children and their bedrooms face onto the street where the source of the light is.

She added: "Our neighbours' bedrooms are not private anymore, and they are forced to install blinds or keep the shutters closed all day.

"The same applies for our reception room, where we have listed windows."

She is now calling for the hospital to agree to switch off the neon lights during the night.

Pensioner Marion Wesel-Henrion, also of Pond Street, recently returned from a three-week trip to discover the invasive blue light permeating all of the front rooms of her home.

She said: "It's appalling - there's a sort of Doctor Who atmosphere in our house now.

"And we are totally overlooked by anyone in that ridiculous cafe place that's part of the new building."

To add insult to injury she was refused permission by Camden Council planning chiefs for a balcony at the back of her property on the grounds that it would have overlooked her neighbours' garden. Former graphic designer Ms Wesel-Henrion added: "The whole thing has this ridiculous Walt Disney type architecture.

"My husband bought this house in 1946 when there were allotments where the hospital is now and there were just two cars across the street.

"No respect has been paid to the historical aspects. We are always told this is a residential street but it's hard to see what's residential about it any more."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Free said: "The front entrance scheme was constructed in accordance with planning application approval by the local authority.

"If there are any issues with the lighting, the hospital is more than happy to investigate and reply to residents regarding their concerns.

"We have had some very positive feedback from patients on the front entrance since it opened.

"The scheme provides a dedicated access for ambulances to the accident and emergency department on the lower ground floor whereas previously there was one access for all vehicles at ground floor level and this caused congestion.

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