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New mansion will ‘look like a shopping centre entrance’

Future of dome swimming pool has been at centre of previous row

12 November, 2020 — By Harry Taylor

How the new house will look

PLANS to demolish a £5.7million Hampstead mansion are set to be approved by Camden Council’s planning committee tonight (Thursday), despite part of its replacement’s design being likened to “a shopping centre entrance”.

The current three-bedroom house at “Boncara” in Templewood Avenue will be replaced by a three-storey, five-bedroom home, which will include a new swimming pool in the basement.

The case has special significance because a grade II-listed domed swimming pool at the site – considered an architectural gem – could be converted into a “formal” dining room and conservatory. Its adjoining shower room will become a wine vault.

Owner Bryan Coyne was refused permission last year to relocate it. The distinctive pool, which was called one of architect James Gowan’s most significant pieces of work by Historic England, was originally part of the next-door home of CS Schreiber, a Hampstead furniture maker. The link was cut when Boncara was built in 1994.

The landmark domed pool

Both the pool and neighbouring Schreiber House were listed four years later. The applicant’s architects say the pool is now showing signs of poor repair, including structural problems which mean it cannot be filled with water.

Camden officers have recommended that committee members approve Mr Coyne’s proposals. But the Heath and Hampstead Society said the plans needed “considerable improvement”, adding in an objection: “We think the design has lost its way somewhere. [It’s] as if a once bold form has deteriorated into ‘a bit of everything’.”

It added that a planned rooftop drum feature is like something you would see “on a shopping centre entrance”.

The current owners of Schreiber House, Simon and Virginia Kirsch, have objected to the plans. They had opposed the relocation of the pool to protect “the architectural heritage of the nation”.

Ms Kirsch, who has lived there for 18 years, told the New Journal that they would object again.

In March she said: “I feel like we’re the guardians of the pool because of the link to our house. We’ve had James Gowan here – he’d turn in his grave if he thought it was going to be moved. We are fairly reasonable. If it was just about the house, then I wouldn’t have had such a problem.

“The house is quite ugly, so we can understand him wanting to put something nicer there. But he shouldn’t be touching that pool. Why he thinks filling it in is going to be so much nicer than the pool, I don’t know.”

The New Journal has contacted Mr Coyne for comment.

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