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Spring 2010

posted 25 Jul 2011, 05:16 by Stephen Taylor   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 16:17 ]
The committee continues to be preoccupied with the major planning issue of the day; the impact of basement construction in Hampstead.  But there have also been other issues to keep us on our toes 

We continue to present a professionally prepared case on the clear hazards inseparable from deep and/or extensive basement excavations in Hampstead, why this needs control, and why this justifies urgent action. The hydrogeological and legal facts are plain.  Our Planners do not, it seems, accept this, and continue with what to us is a complaisant stance on dealing with applications for basement excavations.

This is puzzling to us, especially in view of the new Planning policies set out by Camden themselves - with our support - in their new Planning Policy document, the Local Development Framework (LDF), now going through its ratification process with the Ministry. As we have explained previously, these new policies present a reasonable control system on basements, which will prevent at least the more outrageous proposals we are now seeing.  But Camden will not take account of these policies, and say they won’t until the last i has been dotted and t crossed in the Ministry ratification process, despite legal opinion insisting that these so-called “emerging” policies must be considered.

However, we must emphasise that all is not universally black on the basement front.  It is becoming clear that our Councillors, particularly in the form of the Council’s  Development Control Committee, do not always see eye to eye with their officers.  Two recent decisions, in respect of potentially extremely damaging applications for basements in South Hill Park, close to one of the Heath ponds, and in Kidderpore Avenue, have resulted in refusals.  This has pleased us considerably - but one has already gone to Appeal.  We will be presenting our evidence to the Inspectorate.

Athlone House
Following the long-running and widespread campaign of opposition to this application it was recently refused; this time, on officers’ recommendation.  Thus, good news - but an Appeal is likely to follow.

Article 4 Directions
These proposals, for use in Hampstead, Belsize and Swiss Cottage Conservation Areas, have now been approved by Camden, and are at the Ministry for ratification - expected in a month or two.

We of course welcome this - we did after all campaign for them ourselves - but now have proposed that more of our local Conservation Areas are added, in particular Fitzjohns/ Netherhall and Redington/Frognal.  Camden are sympathetic, but money is involved and, as you may know, there is not much of this around just now.

Heath House
You will have noticed the large, obtrusive and vulgar estate agents hoardings around this important listed house opposite Jack Straw’s Castle.  Estate agents boards have been forbidden in our Conservation Area for several years, and we called for their removal by Camden’s Enforcement department.  Although

a separate application for more, illuminated, displays was refused, Enforcement have declined to take action.  So these offensive advertisements, directly behind the War Memorial, remain.  

We are trying to get the decision reversed.