Victory for Hampstead Heath campaigners
Ben McPartland CAMPAIGNERS have won a landmark victory after plans to send hundreds of 22-tonne dump trucks along a tranquil lane bordering Hampstead Heath were thrown out. This week a planning inspector delighted conservationists, swimmers, allotment hol
CAMPAIGNERS have won a landmark victory after plans to send hundreds of 22-tonne dump trucks along a tranquil lane bordering Hampstead Heath were thrown out.
This week a planning inspector delighted conservationists, swimmers, allotment holders and Heath users, who have fought the plans for months, when he rejected a scheme which would have seen lorries using Millfield Lane in Highgate every 12 minutes for almost three years.
Campaigners said the plan would have turned the 250-metre long narrow track, used by hundreds of pedestrians and joggers, into the 'slow lane of the M1'.
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Isle of Man-based developers Millamant Ltd already had planning permission to demolish the house at Fitzroy Farm, rumoured to be owned by a Russian billionaire and replace it with a neo-classical pile nearly three times larger, featuring a two-level basement and swimming pool.
But the company now faces the prospect of being unable to build the mansion, after planning inspector Stuart Hall dismissed their construction management plan (CMP).
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Harley Atkinson of the Fitzroy Road Residents' Association said: "It is due for a radical rethink for the scheme and how they carry out the building. I don't know if they got that message yet but they should have. If the decision had gone the other way then it would have opened the door for other destructive developments."
Millamant's plans involved trucks being led by golf buggies at a maximum speed of 10mph to the construction site along the lane, past the entrance to the Kenwood ladies' pond.
Hundreds of lighter vehicles would have had to use the private road Fitzroy Park.
But Mr Hall said the safety of residents and Heath users could not be guaranteed.
He said: "The approved development could not be constructed without causing considerable and prolonged risk to safety and disturbance to residents and the many visitors to the locality."
Claire Dale, whose house could have been left damaged by the trucks passing by, was delighted with the decision. She said: "I walk my kids to school along the lane every day so the risks to our safety were not just theoretical. This is such good news."
Regular swimmer at the ladies' pond 87-year old Margaret Hepburn said: "This is a triumph of good sense, which is something you don't often see nowadays.
"The ladies' pond is a sanctuary for many women. It would not have been the same if enormous trucks were passing by every 12 minutes."
The appeal hearing, held at Tavistock Square on April 30, was packed with protesters including the Heath and Hampstead and Highgate societies and the Corporation of London.
Michael Hammerson, environment spokesman at the Highgate Society, said: "I would like them to rethink the design which is what we objected to in the first place.
"We would be delighted to meet the developer and come up with a responsible plan."
Highgate's Green Party councillor Adrian Oliver said the Town Hall should consider cancelling the initial planning permission for the mansion.
Mark Harnett, the solicitor acting for Millamant said: "At this stage we will be reviewing the decision carefully and deciding the appropriate course of action over the next few weeks."
Meanwhile, celebrations took place on the Heath among residents and Heath users including Monty Python star Terry Jones.