A “much loved” garden in Marylebone is under threat from plans to build a new private GP practice.
The hidden green gem just off Harley Street is slated for development after proposals were submitted by the private garden’s freeholder, the Howard De Walden Estate (HDWE), to turn the land into a space to be used for research and medical purposes.
Local residents have branded the plan to excavate over half of the 3000 sq ft garden ‘wicked’ with concerns raised other both the possible effect on biodiversity and an increased footfall in the area, with access to the new building to be on a quiet mews just off London’s private medical district.
Around 25 flats overlook the garden which is nestled between Harley Place and Wimpole Street. It was planted in 1992 and is one of the last remaining green spaces in the Marylebone area.
A licence holder of the garden, who wished not to be named, told the WT: “It’s very very frustrating and upsetting. It’s just wicked.
“It’s a mature garden. It’s a proper garden, a large chunk of green Now there’ll be chauffeurs sitting in their cars for their clients.”
The WT has also heard that some directly affected residents have been given financial compensation in exchange for accepting the scheme.
“We never imagined they would do anything apart from renew the licence.”, the resident continued.
They said: “I’m woken up by the dawn chorus. It’s a very very silent mews.
“There is nothing in it for the local businesses or the residents. Nothing.”
The mews is also used as an assembly point for the nearby Queen’s College. If fully occupied, the GP centre could bring in an extra 92,000 people each year.
Loss of green spaces is a concern shared widely in the community. A source from the local amenity society, Marylebone Association, said that it considers green spots ‘part of the area’s unique appeal’ and that residents’ desire to protect parks and gardens was being counterbalanced by commercial interests.
According to Policy G1 of the London Plan, green and open spaces should be ‘protected, planned, designed and managed as integrated features of green infrastructure’.
The Howard de Walden Estate, which owns over 850 buildings in Marylebone, said that the loss of garden space would be compensated via the provision of a ‘wildlife green roof’.
But its biodiversity impact assessment, while showing that the site’s biodiversity value could increase by 14.2% as a result of the development, concluded that more trees would need to be planted in order to satisfy the metric.
Andrea Merrington, Director of Planning and Engagement for HDWE, said: “As part of the long-term stewardship of the Harley Street Medical area, we are committed to providing commercial facilities for the future which are green and sustainable.
“Our Wimpole Street and Harley Place development project has been carefully designed to reflect the architecture of the surrounding area whilst providing an optimum biodiverse green space at both green roof and courtyard level.
“This will not only replicate what currently exists but seek to improve biodiversity across the site.”