Future of Witanhurst House unclear as Town Hall dismisses owners’ planning application
THE future of the second biggest private home in London was thrown in to doubt on Thursday night when the Town Hall’s planning committee dismissed an application for a massive building project at Highgate’s Witanhurst mansion.
The owners of the pile – who remain anonymous bar a representative saying they were a wealthy Eastern European family – are now considering whether to put the house they bought last year for a rumoured £50m back on the market. Architect Robert Adam designed a project that would have seen a massive new underground complex created beneath the forecourt, a servants wing demolished and replaced with an Orangery, and a new entrance smashed through a grade-II listed wall to allow large vehicles to come and go straight on to Highgate West Hill.
The Highgate Society’s Michael Hammerson spoke against the plans, and questioned how much of the building project was necessary. Referring to the inclusion of a hairdressing salon, he said: “There happens to be four hairdressers already in Highgate village.” He also praised councillors who voted against the application.
He said: “Recently councillors have voted against the officers’ recommendations. It shows they are listening to residents’ concerns.”
The sheer scale of the building project also tipped councillors against the scheme. The removal of 29,000 cubic metres of earth from underneath the front of the house caused concern – they heard it would require around 100 journeys every day by large lorries to remove it for a minimum of six months, causing, according to objectors, chaos in the tight streets of the village.
Planning expert Caroline Dawson, representing the owners, said they did not rule out an appeal, or tweaking the designs.
She said: “We have six months to appeal, so we are looking carefully at what happened before we make any decision.”