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Autumn 2010

posted 25 Jul 2011, 05:19 by Stephen Taylor   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 16:16 ]
by Douglas Maxwell 

When I took over from Gordon Maclean as Chairman of the Society’s Planning committee in the spring, I was conscious that his determination, vigour and formidable powers of analysis would make him a hard act to follow

Suffice it to say here that it has needed three people to replace him – and one of the other two is Gordon himself, as he continues to analyse and comment on every planning application made that relates to Hampstead and its environs – and last month there were seventy-four of them. In addition, Jenny Alderman has kindly agreed to act as secretary to the committee on an honorary basis.
In planning terms it has been a significant and demanding few months. We continue to see a large number of new basement proposals, some of considerable size, either alone or as part of larger developments. A new twist has been that the Council is now acquiescing in some basement works on the grounds that they are permitted development; a view which we consider is entirely wrong and which we are challenging vigorously. We are very fortunate in that the Society’s Chairman, Tony Hillier, is combining his main role with leading the charge on this important issue.

Article 4 Directions Imminent 
Some of our campaigns have at last borne decisive fruit; following their approval by the Council in the spring, Article 4 Directions are expected to come into effect at the beginning of September in the conservation areas of Hampstead, Belsize and Swiss Cottage. These remove certain householder-permitted development rights to the front of houses and their front gardens and front walls, fences and hedges, and will make a great difference in our efforts to maintain the character and appearance of the conservation area at a detailed level.

Local Development Framework 
As well as this, the new Local Development Framework (LDF) which will replace the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) has now progressed through its public examination stages, some sessions of which were attended by committee members to maintain a watching brief on coveted policies. These new policies covering basements, groundwater and other issues are now being accorded weight in planning decisions, and the LDF comes into full effect later this year.
The Garden House saga continues
A few days ago we received the welcome news that the appeal against refusal of planning permission for the second scheme for The Garden House has been withdrawn. However application has now been made for a Lawful Development Certificate for basement construction. The society has issued a vigorous objection on several grounds, including that a basement of this size and arrangement cannot be considered permitted development.

South Hampstead High School 
Many of you will know that a new scheme for South Hampstead High School located off Fitzjohns Avenue is in preparation, and a planning application will probably have been made by the time you read this. The Society is well aware of the differing views held by members on this proposal, and its Planning Committee intends to consider all aspects of the application carefully before coming to a view, which will then be referred to the General Committee for a final decision. We also understand that the Council will be arranging for a development forum later in the year, over and above its normal consultation process; so there is every opportunity for individuals to make their views known in the decision-making process.

A tree survey 
The Planning Committee also deals with trees, and Vicki Harding continues to work with great energy in reviewing applications for tree works or built development affecting trees. The Committee is currently looking at carrying out a tree survey in conjunction with Camden and possibly also a volunteer tree warden scheme, as well as seeking to move the issue up the agenda with the GLA.
Those of you who came to the Annual General Meeting will have heard Tom Oliver remind us that it is the detailed work which underpins the pursuit of our objectives; and I would like to thank all the Planning Committee members for their various contributions to this. I’d also like to thank the various officers at Camden for their hard work, particularly on the Article 4 Directions and Local Development Framework adoption process; and of course our councillors, who have been unfailingly supportive and helpful with planning issues.