Neighbours prepare for new battle over Gondar Gardens reservoir land
Luxury retirement homes company submits proposals to build 20 new blocks
20 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
LifeCare’s vision for a sheltered housing development in Gondar Gardens, West Hampstead
A HIGH-END retirement homes firm hoping to build a new village for older people on protected open land in West Hampstead is facing stiff opposition to the scheme.
Luxury sheltered housing company LifeCare bought a former Thames Water reservoir in Gondar Gardens earlier this year and have filed plans at the Town Hall for 20 new blocks which are up to six storeys high and will include a 15-bedroom nursing home, a cinema, a swimming pool, restaurant, bar and gym.
But members of the Gondar and Agamemnon Residents’ Association (GARA) are gearing up to fight the project – the third time in almost 20 years they have campaigned to save a piece of land that enjoys the same protection under planning law as the green belt.
GARA chairman David Yass said: “It feels like either LifeCare were misled when they bought the land, or are arrogant. They are proposing to build on protected open space with no affordable housing whatsoever, while ignoring the planning designation of this land.”
A petition opposing the development already has more than 1,000 names on it and Mr Yass added: “We do not see any benefit to the people of Camden by building luxury housing. The only people who will benefit is developers. It does not tick any of the council’s boxes for care space for older people as it is solely aimed at the luxury end of the market. It constitutes massive over-development and the size, scale, impact on transport and effect on wildlife means it should not be passed.”
LifeCare say they have listened to concerns and revised their plans to reduce the size of the project by 25 per cent.
Development manager Dan Perfect added: “LifeCare has made numerous efforts to engage with the local community to fully understand concerns and, where possible, have made changes to the scheme to accommodate feedback. This scheme will make a significant contribution to community well-being through offering a safe, well-designed and beneficial living and care environment for people in later life. “This is not a typical application for housing, it is not a typical development site, the offer is specific, addressing a need that has been identified.”
The site has long been eyed up by builders. Previous owners Linden Wates won permission after a Whitehall planning enquiry to build a row of homes along the street side of the site. This was a scaled down project from their original plan and would have left much of the land alone.
Part of the deal would have seen ecologists allowed on-site to monitor and maintain it. But, rather than build the houses, they sold the land to LifeCare last year.