The Independent London Newspaper
26th February 2017

Top designer Sir Kenneth Grange urges Camden Council to block 'grotesque' basement plan

    Sir Kenneth Grange lives in Hampstead [Pic: Geoff Sheppard]

    Published: 5 January, 2017
    By ELLA JESSEL

    DIGGING a basement under your home is a sure-fire way to upset your neighbours and in Hampstead it is not unusual to discover you have unwittingly ruffled the feathers of an A-list pop star or a High Court judge.

    But one homeowner in Christchurch Hill has been told to go back to the drawing board by none other than Sir Kenneth Grange – one of Britain’s most celebrated industrial designers – who has called his plans for an underground extension “grotesque”.

    Sir Kenneth, 87, known as the “man who designed everything” including the Kenwood mixer, high-speed trains and Kodak cameras, has written to the Town Hall to point out the road is “too unstable” to support a basement under a modern wing of the Grade-II listed house.

    His neighbour wants to build a basement containing a media suite, gym and “panic room” with a tunnel construction spanning the rear garden and connecting the property’s two extensions.

    But in a long objection, published on the council’s website, Sir Kenneth said the scheme could cause a “major collapse” on a crossroads of the street he has lived on for 43 years.

    He wrote: “It is well known what ancient water course are below are feet. Some years ago – more than 10 – there appeared a large hole, c. [around] two metres diameter at these crossroads. 

    “More recently a main water pipe was fractured and our kitchen – sub pavement level – was badly flooded.”

    He added: “I firmly believe that to allow a selfish and seeming unnecessary huge excavation and basement making is, in this place, wholly inappropriate.”

    Perhaps a tad modestly for a designer trained in technical drawing who was knighted in 2012 for services to design, Sir Kenneth describes his objection as the contribution of an “amateur”, adding: “I can imagine that some high-powered protagonists will be fielded, who, being well- versed in legal and specialist rigmarole, can quickly disadvantage an inexperienced neighbour.”

    Jacqueline Goodier, wife of radio DJ Mark Goodier, was among other objectors and said: “The land is not very stable. Twice in our 17 years on this road there has been a sink hole form at the junction of Christchurch Hill and Well Road. 

    “We are not against sensible appropriate development but what is proposed here is quite evidently out of proportion.” 

    Town Hall planning officers have said the basement is acceptable in principle but raised concerns over the changes to the garden which would result in “unacceptable” replacement of a sloping lawn with an area of hard standing.

    But documents submitted by the applicant said: “The proposed basement will be built only under the 1973 extension and the post-war garage in order to protect the heritage assets. 

    “No aspect of the proposal impacts the original 19th-century building structure.”

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