A crackdown on plastic windows, front gardens concreted over to create private parking spaces and “inappropriate” paintwork is to be launched across a swathe of prime areas of north London containing some of the most expensive homes in the country — Hampstead, Belsize Park and Swiss Cottage.
Residents’ automatic rights to make small alterations to the front of their homes, as well as to their front gardens, are to be swept away.
Instead they will be forced to apply for planning permission for everything from building a porch to painting the façade of their home.
Camden council is poised to revoke all “permitted development” rights in these conservation areas after becoming concerned that the quaint, historic feel of their streets was being compromised by some residents’ clumsy attempts at home improvement.
“In all these places there has been significant harm caused to the character by works carried out under permitted development rights,” explained a report on the proposals. “The character of all three areas was in danger of being lost.”
The move is strongly backed by English Heritage, which says that “small changes” to doors, windows, roofs and fences can lead to a “slow but irreversible decline” in a historic area. The council is particularly keen to target residents who replace original windows with UPVC, add roof lights, take down original doors, knock down garden walls or iron railings to create parking spaces and paint over brickwork.
Surveys carried out found that more than 80 per cent of local residents either agree or strongly agree with the plan, which is also backed by some of the UK’s most influential conservation organisations, including the Ancient Monuments Society. The plans were due to be debated at a meeting of the council’s executive committee last night.