Up to 500 join Hampstead schoolchildren’s New End protest march

Schoolchildren march up Rosslyn Hill

Schoolchildren march up Rosslyn Hill - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Hundreds of families marched through the streets of Hampstead blowing whistles, strumming guitars and chanting in protest at the controversial New End development.

The protesters march up Heath Street

The protesters march up Heath Street - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Organisers estimate that up to 500 schoolchildren and their parents joined a procession along Hampstead High Street and onto Hampstead Heath singing John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.

They want to halt developers from bulldozing a former nurses home in New End to make way for a seven-storey block of 17 luxury flats and an underground car park, which was recently granted planning permission.

The protest on Saturday was organised by community campaigner Jessica Learmond-Criqui who recently led a delegation to the Home Office to present a 1,500-strong petition and 161 letters against the scheme to communities and local government minister Eric Pickles.

The protesters from three neighbouring primary schools – Heathside, New End and Christ Church – fear the building work and construction lorries will have a serious impact on the health, safety and education of thousands of young pupils.

They fear the dust, pollution, noise and heavy construction lorries will put schoolchildrens lives at risk.

As reported in the Ham&High, the scheme was originally rejected by Camden Council in 2013, but Karawana Holdings Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands, launched an appeal against the decision and the government’s Planning Inspectorate ruled that the works can go ahead.

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Protesters had also objected to the scheme’s negative impact on the character of the conservation area, the lack of affordable housing provided, a large number of parking spaces and the effect on traffic congestion in the area.

Campaigners want Mr Pickles to use his power to revoke planning consent. They may also consider launching a judicial review.

Melissa Remus, headteacher at Heathside Prepatory School opposite the site, told the planning inquiry last year: “My main concern, and that of every parent and teacher I know, is the frightening impact that this development will have on the safety, the education and the well-being of over 1,000 children in the area.”

Mrs Learmond-Criqui said: “It was wonderful, there were around 500. Families kept joining the procession, coming out of shops and restaurants.”

Head of planning casework Richard Watson, from Mr Pickles office, said last week that campaigners would receive a response to their petition within three weeks.