Neighbours and conservationists oppose Gollum star Andy Serkis’s house demolition plans
The 20th Century Society appeal to Camden Council to protect the actor's modernist home in Highgate
09 February, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
How the actor’s new home would look
LORD of the Rings star Andy Serkis is facing a battle with neighbours over his plans to demolish a celebrated piece of Modernist architecture in Highgate – and replace it with a home twice as large.
The actor is hoping to move his family into a new property he has bought near Fitzroy Park, but has sparked objections by applying for permission to knock it down and start from scratch. His application, made available for public view by Camden Council planners, is for a three-storey home with five bedrooms in place of the existing two-storey, three-bedroom house.
Prominent civic group The Highgate Society and conservation campaigners at the 20th Century Society are among objectors, while a joint letter from some of his neighbours warns that the proposed house is too big for the site. The letter claims the work would cause irreversible damage to the lane leading to the home and trees that run alongside it.
Mr Serkis won plaudits for his role as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien film adaptation and has starred in the new Planet of the Apes series. If he gains consent from planners, he would be knocking down a property that is one of six timber-and-glass buildings built in a style known as New Humanism, influenced by Swedish design of the 1940s.
Actor Andy Serkis
The house was designed by Leonard Michaels, a friend of celebrated engineer Ove Arup, who lived in Fitzroy Park. One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, told the New Journal that the plan amounted to “cultural vandalism of the worst type”, and that the actor should “respect the heritage of the neighbourhood or buy somewhere else to live”.
The 20th Century Society’s official objection said the current house is part of a “significant” and “interesting” private estate, adding that “the society considers it contributes to the rich 20th century heritage of Fitzroy Park”.
Seventeen gardeners at Fitzroy Park Allotments Association have opposed the plans after learning they face being prevented from parking near the gates to their plots during building work, due to the need to get lorries in and out of the tight, one-track road leading to the house.
The firm Soup Architects, which has designed the new building, declined to comment, but its planning application says the new house “will provide high-quality, residential accommodation appropriate for the character of this location”.
It adds: “The new dwelling will complement the established qualities of the site and surrounding dwellings.”
Mr Serkis’s press spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.