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Hampstead groups act to save Isokon flats

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Two Hampstead conservation groups have acted to try and preserve the famous Isokon flats by applying to Camden council to change the Grade I listed building's use class.

The Heath and Hampstead Society and the Belsize Park Residents Association have filed to change the use from one-family residential use to include hotel or residential club use and students or nurses hostel use. This, they consider, will offer flexibility in a bid to open up 'opportunities for imaginative prospective buyers to give Isokon a new lease of life by enabling the undoubtedly high refurbishment costs to be justifie'.

These costs are estimated by the council to be around £500,000 to £1 million to buy the building when it comes onto the market later this year and £1-2 million more to repair the building. The building will be marketed when the last five tenants secure new housing.

Chris Flannery, who set up the Isokon Trust last year to make another bid for preserving the building said that the building suffered mostly from problems of damp, particularly at ground floor level, but that much of the concrete is sound.

The trust is aiming to refurbish the 1934 flats - known also as Lawn Road - and open them up for public access and educational use. Flannery says he has spoken to housing associations and developers and is aiming to open up at least two of the 34 flats.

Flannery's cause was aided last week when a local woman offered the trust a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of an Isokon chair. Sculptor Glynis Jones has decided to sell the chair - valued at £5,000 - after reading about the building's plight.

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