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Overhaul for ‘ugly duckling’ building in Dartmouth Park given green light

Planners say yes to change 'ugliest' building in NW5

13 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The property dubbed by some as the ugliest in Dartmouth Park

IT is a house that was called the “ugly duckling” by neighbours, a 1930s extension at the end of a Victorian terrace in a conservation area.

But now the two-storey, brick-built home is set to become a swan, after an architect won planning permission to restore its original 20th-century features and add a modern extension on its roof.

The property’s first-floor flat, on the corner of York Rise and Laurier Road in Dartmouth Park, was bought last year by architect Richard Keep. He learned last month that his latest plans have been given the green light by the Town Hall. Now he can start work to create a dream home for his family.

The flat is currently two bedrooms and Mr Keep’s designs will see an extra bedroom added to the first floor and then a living area created on a new roof extension. He said: “It is a beautiful site but the building at the moment is a bit of an ugly duckling.”

The flat roof boasts views in all directions and Mr Keep will use this to create a living area on the top floor with picture windows.

He said: “When I first stepped foot on the roof it felt so spacious. It will create a beautiful space. It will have sun all day long.” The new floor will be built with zinc cladding around timber and offer a striking new look to a building that stands out sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Mr Keep said: “I have a background in Modernism but also dealing with historic buildings. For example, overseeing insertions into them, and this makes this an interesting project for me.”


How the new building will look

With a mid-20th century brick building as the starting point, he explored different ideas. “I wanted it to continue in the modern tradition to the upper floor. I thought of creating a corner section using brick with a roof garden. After consultations and pre-planning discussions there were a lot of objections. The Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee felt it would be too tall so we looked at using more contemporary materials,” he said.

Mr Keep had considered using bronze but this too had objections. “I looked at bronze, partly because I like to use materials that feel quite natural,” he said. “But many said this would not be suitable for a conservation area, so we changed it to zinc. It had been used before on a 1970s home along the road and was more suitable.”

He also plans to take out modern uPVC windows and put in modern Crittall windows, which would have been originally there. Mr Keep’s work has covered a wide range of projects, from a 30-storey mixed-use block for a client in Nairobi, Kenya, to London-based extensions, conversions, basements and new-builds.

The house was built in a garden in 1930. It included a new dining room and a flat for a maid for the house next door. It was then turned into a stand-alone home before being converted into two flats in the 1980s.

“It was badly subdivided,” added Mr Keep. “The entrances for the flats were shared. It meant we had quite a lot of free rein to do something quite contemporary but also respectful of the historic buildings in the street.”

Exterior work is set to start in March and the family hope to move in by Christmas 2018.

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