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Played 5 Won 5: Residents celebrate as reservoir development is thrown out again

It is the fifth time in 15 years the Gondar Gardens land has been under an inspector’s microscope

17 June, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

A PLANNING inspector has thrown out an appeal by a developer to turn a protected open space in West Hampstead into a luxury retirement village for older people.

LifeCare, who run high-end housing for the over-60s, had hoped to use a former reservoir in Gondar Gardens. But their plans, rejected by Camden Council, have been blocked by a Whitehall planning inspector.

It is the fifth time in 15 years the land has been under an inspector’s microscope – and the fifth time the final verdict has gone against those who wanted to build on the land. LifeCare aimed to develop 82 self-contained houses, a 15-bed nursing unit, a restaurant, library, swimming pool, gym and cinema. A new basement would be used for a fleet of chauffeur-driven cars.

The previous owners, building group Linden Wates, had seen attempts to build across the site turned down as well.

David Yass, the chairman of the Gondar and Agamemnon Residents Association (GARA), told the New Journal: “We are delighted. We think the refusal is strongly worded and will protect the habitat and species. It has been made clear this proposal is too big and too damaging.”

He added that LifeCare could be looking at what may eventually be “an expensive mistake”.

He said: “We think LifeCare have been overly optimistic when they bought the site and may have misunderstood the planning history. Did they persuade themselves this was viable, despite all previous evidence? We would very much like to know what their intentions are.”

GARA now hope to work with the Greater London Authority to give people managed access to the site. Inspector Brendan Lyons said in his report that the plans would have “an adverse effect on its character and openness,” adding: “The site’s value as a green lung surrounded by development has been endorsed by previous appeal decisions.”

A spokesman for LifeCare said they were “very disappointed” and had yet to decide their next step.

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