CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

A ‘land-grab’ and failures of planners with the Royal Free’s development

10 August, 2017

• THE Royal Free building champion called a meeting last week to answer the public outcry against what can be regarded as a land-grab of the footpath by the side of Hampstead Green, the walkway between Rosslyn Hill and Pond Street.

Hampstead Green is an ancient wildflower meadow that was bequeathed by a grateful patient to Camden to be protected under covenant to be an unspoilt view for patients to aid their recovery.

The hospital developers wanted to narrow the path in order to accommodate their own plans. This was sheer cheek – not only would the public lose some of the walkway, but the new-build created an extra three entry points onto the path.

The champion said he wanted to announce that they would no longer narrow the path but because the land grab had already been permitted by Camden the hospital would seek to amend the plans. Had the locals not finally spotted the hospital intentions, the public space where people could stroll in comfort would have been reduced to a mean single file path.

The hospital is to be congratulated in making the u-turn; if they had not, nothing could have been done, so questions need to be asked as to how the plans were approved in the first place.

We welcomed the first announcements in 2014 that the Royal Free wanted to build a new research unit. But the whole planning application has been mishandled by the hospital and Camden. They agreed final plans with little consultation with residents.

What has materialised is an oversized block that not only looms over the open space of Hampstead Green but threatens the future of St Stephens, a listed heritage treasure.

Could the Hampstead councillors not see that the excavation for basements have potentially disastrous effects on buildings along Pond Street? Did they consider collaboration to persuade the hospital to locate the new build on the Fleet Road side where there are flat expanses of concrete, so bringing much-needed development attention and opportunity to that area?

Camden must do more to protect public interests and not be beguiled by the empty promises of developers.

LINDA CHUNG
Friends of Hampstead Green Member

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