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Hampstead neighbours prepare for battle as swim pool plan resurfaces

Published: September 1, 2011

ONE of the most fiercely fought home improvement schemes since the vogue for new underground swimming pools hit the borough is due to go back before the Town Hall’s planning committee tonight (Thursday).

The project was dismissed by councillors and then thrown out on appeal two years ago – but now revised plans have again met wide opposition from those living nearby.

The new plans would see the 20th-century house in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, comprehensively remodelled with a new basement incorporating a swimming pool sunk beneath.

Previously, the owners had asked to demolish the existing swimming pool building in the back garden and carve out a new pool underground. A temperature-controlled cigar store and staff accommodation were also planned.

Both have been removed from the new application.

Neighbours have told Camden Council the revised plans should be refused for numerous reasons, including claims that they will mean more than 1,000 truckloads of earth being moved.

They claim that a river runs below the properties and that the gardens have underground streams that have not been sufficiently mapped to ensure the work will not cause damage to houses.

Neighbours have told the committee that the plans set a bad precedent for the street and that, if the owners want these improvements, they should move to a house that already has them.

At the planning meeting, the chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, Tony Hillier, will speak against the plans, as will neighbour Norman Glinert, on behalf of a number of people living in the street.

Mr Glinert said: “There is overwhelming opposition to the scheme in the street. Not because we are opposing basements but because this one is too big and inappropriate for a narrow Hampstead street.

“The basement will be the size of three average-sized semi-detached houses and will damage adjacent homes and trees.

“The noise, dirt and dust from 1,000 lorries moving earth over two or more years will also cause distress.”

Ilan Sharon, a director of building development company Siaw, which is working for the owners, said the scheme was similar to the original, but had been reduced in size.

He disputed claims that the basement would affect underground water courses. “We have sunk a borehole that is going down to the centre of the earth,” he said. “We, of course, want to give a good service to the client but also give neighbours peace of mind.”

He maintained that the scheme would benefit those living nearby. “The current structure we will be taking down is industrial and ugly,” he said. “We will be giving those nearby open land with beautiful landscaping. From an environment point of view it is such an improvement.”

Mr Sharon dismissed fears that lorries carrying earth would cause congestion or be dangerous. He said: “We will carefully manage traffic.”


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