Hamspstead "mega mansion" rejected

'Stalinist' design by Prince Charles's favourite architect is out


An extravagent new “mega mansion” planned for the edges of Hampstead Heath and designed by one of Prince Charles’s favourite architects, has been rejected by Camden council.

The plan to redevelop Athlone House, a former nursing home in Hampstead Lane, was thrown out after it upset the residents of London’s smartest village, even though it was drawn up by top classical architect Robert Adam.

It is the second time in recent months that Camden has ruled against plans for a mega mansion near the Heath.

Just before Christmas, amid another wave of fierce protest, it refused to allow a comprehensive redevelopment of Witanhurst, London’s largest private home after Buckingham Palace.

The latest plan, for an eight-bedroom, 45,000 sq ft house with towering copper domes and parking for 18 cars, had been dismissed as “Stalinist”.

Local residents raised 540 objections, complaining the project was “excessive”, even by the supersize standards of Hampstead. The project would involve demolishing Athlone House, which dates from 1871 and sits in grounds originally laid out by Capability Brown.

Developers had hoped to tear it down and replace it with a larger house, complete with underground car park, ballroom and servants’ quarters.

English Heritage described the new house as “monolithic” and called for Athlone House to be preserved. Save Britain’s Heritage warned that demolition would set an “unfortunate precedent”, while the Victorian Society claimed that Athlone House - owned by property developer Athlone House Limited - was an important local landmark.

One environmental group described the house intended to replace it as “Stalinist in conception and appearance and… of uninspired design as a classical pastiche”. Camden’s development control committee agreed with the objections.

In December the same committee rejected plans to transform Witanhurst mansion in Highgate - where the BBC’s talent series, Fame Academy, was filmed. Witanhurst already has more than 60 rooms and covers 40,000sq ft, but there were plans to add the biggest basement extension in London.

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