Green light for controversial home expansion plan on picturesque Lissenden Gardens estate
24 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
The Lissenden Gardens house – built by its owners in 2006
A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to add extensions to a celebrated modern house on a late Victorian estate in Parliament Hill Fields won the unanimous support of the Town Hall’s planning committee.
Councillors voted to pass the plans submitted by architects and graphic designers Jean-Jacques and Sophie Lorraine, who want to radically enlarge the family home they built in 2006. Their proposals had been met with a raft of objections from neighbours, including more than 60 letters against the scheme, but councillors were swayed by an officers’ report that played down the loss of light, bulk and size of the additions to the house.
The project will see a storey added to the roof, a first-floor extension and a ground-floor rear extension.
A deputation from residents to the committee last Thursday outlined objections to the project. Lissenden Gardens Tenants Association member Michael Thorp told the meeting there was “a high level of opposition” and cited an increase in the building’s height and mass.
He said the project would take away light from people living nearby in a block known as Clevedon Mansion, adding: “The building would be just 15 metres from Clevedon. It will increase a sense of enclosure. This setting is not meant for a building of this height and mass, and the space was originally intended to provide residents with a sense of openness.”
Sally Gimson said the plans were ‘greedy’
He also cited how Parliament Hill school, behind the house, is in the process of building a new wing that would further increase issues of mass and loss of light for the estate.
At the meeting, Mr Lorraine told councillors they had two children at a state primary school nearby, had made close friends in the neighbourhood since they moved in 10 years ago, and did not want to leave the area. But Mr Lorraine said his family had outgrown the current house, and they wanted more space to play music and have grandparents to stay over. They added that they would not be using the extra floor for professional work, but the roof extension would allow Mr Lorraine to paint and draw, while his partner Sophie would use the space for sewing and handicrafts.
He said: “Sophie and I can assure you the rooftop extension will not be used for commercial use.”
And Mr Lorraine offered an olive branch to the scores of neighbours who did not want the project to go ahead, adding: “We intend to address the objections, and we feel it is important to say that it is absolutely right for the community to rally round and to protect the character of Lissenden Gardens. There is a sense of community in Lissenden Gardens – that is why it makes it so special to live there.”
He also cited the Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum plan, which has yet to be ratified by the Town Hall, as having a specific policy dealing with these types of projects. He said: “The DPNF plan has a policy aimed at families in our situation, so we don’t have to move out to deal with growing pains, uproot our family and start again elsewhere.”
Mr Lorraine added: “Yes, there will be an impact, yes it will be visible but we do not think it will be that bad, we don’t think it will dominate and won’t affect amenity or the setting of the building. We have changed the design three times.”
Speaking against the project, Highgate ward Labour councillor Sally Gimson called the project “greedy” and added that with Parliament Hill School’s project due to start soon, the combination would leave people in Clevedon Mansions feeling boxed in. She added: “There are residents here tonight and this shows the strength of local feeling. The flats are quite dark anyway and will be made darker by the mass of this new extension on top. It’s a great house that replaced a one-storey cottage and there was a lot of grief to go through to get to something acceptable to add to the estate. It seems quite greedy to go against the principle originally of having this building.”
Highgate ward Green councillor Sian Berry added that the current house was a valued addition to the conservation area. She said: “We all love the building as it stands. It is sensitively designed and fits in. It’s just the extensions we object to. “When you add the school plans, people will feel very surrounded. There is a cumulative impact to this – it is taking light away from flats with low light levels already. It’s a bit too far. “There are alternatives to do this which would not alarm people so much.”