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Not in Balmond's back yard - Cecil slams Crouch End housing scheme

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Engineer to the stars Cecil Balmond has been labelled a 'Nimby' after opposing a small residential development next to his Victorian home in Crouch End, north London.

Balmond, the deputy chairman of international engineering giant Arup - and the man behind some of the world's most daring structures - has sent a list of objections to Haringey Council about SLLB Architects' proposed two-home Coolhurst Road scheme.

Among Balmond's main concerns are the potential 'loss of pretty green space' and 'the overdevelopment of the site

and of Crouch End in general'.

Balmond, who has worked on every one of the innovative Serpentine Pavilion projects since the scheme's inception in 2000, also claims the housing project could cause 'destabilising of [the] area' and possible 'subsidence' to his own home.

His list of long-term collaborators includes leading lights Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid.

In his letter, Balmond says: 'I feel you should call a halt to any further building in Crouch End, which is now overcrowded since the development of the Telephone Exchange.

'I trust the council will reject planning permission.'

The Coolhurst Road site has been plagued by a long list of failed planning applications. However, SLLB chief Dan Smith said he found Balmond's criticism baffling.

He said: 'What was unexpected is the type of thing we have being hearing from Balmond - things like 'my house is going to fall down

if you build this'.'

Smith added: 'The issue is one of 'not in my back yard'. It's a pretty modest scheme but it seems to have stirred up a hornets nest.'

Following discussions with planners, Smith now expects the original two-house proposals to be rejected, and has already submitted an alternative single-property scheme.

Yet Smith is adamant the new development will not have any consequences on the surrounding properties.

He said: 'There is nothing unusual about the land at all. We've already built just around the corner from it - it's just London clay.

'I'm absolutely shocked to see that [kind of comment] coming from Balmond. We work with Arup all the time, but never with Balmond.

'Maybe now we never will.'

by Richard Waite

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