Plans to redevelop a health centre in Temple Fortune and build additional flats for private sale have been approved by councillors.
The redevelopment of Temple Fortune Health Centre, in Temple Fortune Lane, will see the current two-storey 1970s unit demolished to make way for a four-storey block containing a replacement medical centre on the ground floor and eleven flats on the upper floors.
It was waved through by a planning committee yesterday, despite objections from neighbours warning the taller building would overlook homes, block out daylight and sunlight, and add to parking and congestion problems in nearby streets.
There were also fears the scheme, which contains no affordable housing, would be out of keeping with the neighbourhood and harm Hampstead Garden Suburb Conservation Area.
Other residents have welcomed the plans, which are designed to provide a larger, better-equipped surgery to meet growing demand for healthcare, with the money raised from the sale of the flats used to fund the expansion.
The original proposals were scaled back following consultations, leading to an 18.5% smaller building with upper storeys stepped back to reduce the impact on neighbours.
But Zahava Shore, who lives behind the centre in Finchley Road, told the planning committee the revised proposals failed to meet the council’s own guidelines for proximity to neighbouring homes.
She said the basement car park and ground floor of the health centre, at 9.5-metres away from her home, would be “virtually in my living room” and even closer for some neighbours, causing “loss of light, loss of outlook, loss of sky” and “an overwhelming sense of enclosure”.
“We actually have a health centre,” Zahava added. “With some good will and modifications, the current building is much more suited to offer more services without inflicting unnecessary harm on neighbours.”
Marc Trup, a local resident and a patient at the health centre, spoke in support of the plans, telling the committee the “self-financing project” would create a “landmark building” and “future-proof our health needs for years to come”.
Dr Karen Myers, who along with her colleague Dr Leora Harverd applied to redevelop the centre, said they had personally financed improvements to the building since acquiring it in 2001 but were now “at a crossroads”.
Warning the “exhausted” building suffered “recurring floods, uncontrollable heating and structural decay”, Dr Myers added: “There is no magic wand and there are no public funds, so we will have to pay for the improvement. To manage our risk, we need the apartments. The building can’t happen without them.”
Under questioning from committee members, planning officers admitted the distances between the development and some neighbouring homes were shorter than those set out in the council’s residential design guidance document.
However, they claimed measures taken to protect privacy, such as windows glazed with obscure glass, meant the scheme was considered “acceptable”. Officers also said an assessment showed the impact on light levels to neighbouring homes was “acceptable”.
Two members of the committee had left the meeting for the duration of the discussion on the scheme after declaring an interest. When it came to the vote, the four remaining members voted in favour of approval.