CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

New battle for The Water House next to Hampstead Heath

1960s property would be expanded rather demolished under new proposals

28 July, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

How the house in Highgate could look

IT is a planning saga that has run for more than half-a-decade with the future of a prized Heath-side site – and the leafy trail that leads to it – at stake.

The latest owners of The Water House, in Highgate, now believe they may be able to please all sides by asking for planning permission for a more modest redevelopment than those which have previously been refused or mothballed.

But, like those who have gone before them, Leonard and Ingrid Lewis have been warned that if they want their dream home proposals to become a reality, they must still show how they will get building materials in – and spoil out – without ruining the one access road, a picturesque footpath which leads to the Ladies’ Pond near Kenwood.

This has been a major sticking point in a series of masterplans for the site. Rather than demolish the house, the couple, whose family own the River Island clothing chain, want to refurbish the 1960s property and add an extension to include a hydrotherapy pool and gym to help Mr Lewis with rehabilitation.

The entire house will be wheelchair-accessible. Members of the Fitzroy Park Residents Association, however, say they cannot offer full support until a construction management plan has been agreed and a series of ancient oak trees along the path are protected. Neighbour Karen Biere told the New Journal: “The new proposals are in principle well supported and the genuine efforts to consult with the local community are much appreciated. However, as with previous proposals, the make or break of any application is a safe and workable management plan.”

Plans show a current pool house will be turned into a cinema and library, with a lift also installed to help access to the first floor. The architects’ application added: “The existing house is now in poor condition and will be refurbished. The purchaser is disabled and the proposal seeks to meet his needs. A key part of the brief is to minimise the effect of these proposals on the surrounding area.”

Planning consultant Stuart Minty, of SM Planning, who is working for the architects, said a contractor had yet to be appointed. He said that when they are chosen, the size of the vehicles would be clearer and put to consultation.

He added: “It is a very sensitive project and when Leonard bought the house he was aware of the history. There were up to 10,000 objections and he agreed with most of the issues. We understand people will not be comfortable until they see the plans and they should be ready by the end of August. “Above all, the Lewises want to live there and be part of the neighbourhood. They have invited neighbours in to see the house as it is and discuss the plans and have talked through the plans.”

The Town Hall has yet to say when the scheme will go to the planning

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