Residents of Hampstead Village are up in arms over a planned basement expansion of the mansion that was the home of writer John Galsworthy from 1918-1933.

The numerous objections to the planned excavation project mostly concern the excessive noise and disruption that would result from years of building works in the close suburban area. With peace and serenity being some of the major draws for those purchasing houses in Hampstead Village it is easy to understand the frustration of long-term homeowners like John Gardiner. Mr Gardiner has lived next door to Galsworthy’s Grade II-listed 18th century house for the last 30 years but will consider moving if the new construction plans are permitted to go ahead. Other distressed neighbours include actor Tom Conti, who claims that the disruption to the lives of neighbours would be “inhumane” and fears the noise levels may be “hellish”. Camden Council is at present still considering the application and engineers’ reports.

The owner of Galsworthy’s £11 million house is Caspar Berendsen, a partner in the Cinven private equity firm. Berendsen claims that the planning proposals have been approached “sympathetically to protect the history of our house and the surrounding area”, despite the fact that his plans include demolishing Galsworthy’s own extension to the house. The plans for the basement extension include a gym, a children’s playroom, and an additional two bedrooms to the nine-bedroom mansion that already stands. For Berendsen these are necessary additions to make the property “a family home for our five children which retains its historical significance in an area of London which we love.” The historical importance of this property is memorialised in the familiar blue plaque on the exterior of the house where Galsworthy completed the Forsyte Saga.

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