CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Rejected! West Hampstead retirement village plan for former reservoir land

Neighbours say they are delighted that Gondar Gardens scheme has been denied planning consent

09 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

A COMPANY that builds high-end luxury retirement homes have been told they will not be given planning permission to create a complex on protected reservoir land.

LifeCare had bought the site in Gondar Gardens, West Hampstead, last year and applied to build an 82-home retirement village with a nursing centre, swimming pool, leisure complex, restaurant, communal areas and a basement car park.

But Camden Council has thrown out the application, citing 16 reasons why the scheme could not be given the green light. Town Hall officers said the scheme would damage protected land, failed to provide any affordable housing, was an “inward-looking enclave” that would fail to promote social cohesion and community safety, that it to did not provide “an inclusive design for all”, and that, due to its scale, bulk, mass and density, it would damage the neighbourhood. They also added it would cause an unacceptable increase in traffic.

It is the latest scheme to hit the buffers for the disused Victorian reservoir, which has been at the centre of planning wrangles for nearly 20 years. Thames Water had attempted to build homes but after having their bid thrown out by planning inspectors, they sold the land on developers Linden Wates. Eventually, after three different bids, Linden Wates were given permission to build a small development of street-side housing, which would have left a swathe of the grass land on top of Victorian brick storage tanks beneath untouched.

However, Linden Wates then sold on the property to LifeCare who submitted their plans last year. LifeCare’s proposals were met with huge opposition from a number of residents and civic groups, and the council received 180 objections to the project. The site is home to rare flora and protected species such as bats, slow worms and grass snakes.

David Yass, chairman of the Gondar and Agamemnon Residents Association who led the campaign against the proposals, said: “We are delighted that Camden has refused LifeCare’s planning application. This is a huge relief to all the 1,600 people who signed our petition against this ludicrous over-development.  Thank you to Camden for properly applying its policies and taking note of over 180 objection letters. Camden has listened to residents, now we need LifeCare to listen to Camden and accept that you can’t just turn a green space into luxury flats. ”

He adde: “It’s been a great community effort, and this refusal is excellent news for this green lung, protected slow worms, and everyone who cares about the environment. Of course, we know this is just one more battle in the long-running saga of protecting this valuable open space.”

A spokeswoman for LifeCare said: “We are disappointed with Camden Council’s decision to refuse the application, and are now considering our options for the site.”

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