CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Town Hall demands demolition of chalet-style home built next to Hampstead Heath pond

Vale of Health Society object to 'Bren Cottage'

25 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

The building that must be removed

A WOMAN who built a chalet-style home next to a picturesque Hampstead pond without applying for planning permission has been told it must be demolished.

Jita Lukka’s one-and-a-half-storey house, on land that enjoys protected status, overlooks the Vale of Health pond and runs alongside a track that marks the edge of Hampstead Heath.

Workers have spent almost a year building a wooden structure with­out, according to the council, going through the usual planning process. Ms Lukka has now been told by the Town Hall that the building – which she has called Bren Cottage – must come down, with the land restored to its original state.

The plot had previously been home to a man known only as “Robbie L”, who moved in around 2004 with the blessing of the land’s owner, Martin Frishman. Last year, Robbie told the New Journal he had acted as guardian of the half-acre site, living in a temporary shack made from scrap materials. When asked to leave so that Mr Frishman could sell the land, he packed up his things and moved to Wales. The plot was then sold for £700,000 to Mrs Lukka, who began building work, sparking complaints from the Vale of Health Society, formed in 1973 to guard against inappropriate development.

The Heathside enclave was once home to Cold Comfort Farm author Stella Gibbons, essayist Leigh Hunt and Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Vale of Health Society member Ellen Solomons told the New Journal that neighbours believed the new owner had spent “at least £200,000 on the building work”, which included digging up a pebbled lane.

Ms Solomons said: “People in the Vale ensure that the slightest thing done here is done properly – and it takes ages to get planning permission because of this. We trust enforce­ment will be taken.” She added that prior to completion of the sale, a letter was sent to the previous owners warning that the land was protected and no permanent buildings would be tolerated.

Signed by the Vale of Health Society, the Heath and Hampstead Society, the Highgate Society and the City of London it stated that they “…would object vigorously to any application for building on this land”. Ms Solomons added: “I also wrote to Mrs Lukka personally and made this clear.” The Town Hall confirmed it was taking action to have the building demolished.

A spokesman said: “Camden Council has served an enforcement notice as we judge that the scale, location and use as permanent residential accom­modation of this dwelling undermines the openness and character of the land and represents inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land.  The dwelling also forms a discordant and incongruous development that causes harm to the appearance and character of the surrounding Hampstead Conservation Area and Hampstead Heath.”

He added: “The notice takes effect on January 31, unless an appeal is made before, and requires that within four months the dwelling is completely removed and the land made good.”

Ms Lukka did not respond to requests for a comment.

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