The 11-year-old girls from St Christopher’s School, Hampstead, protested to stop developers demolishing a Seventies two-bedroom bungalow and replacing it with a three-bedroom house, with a swimming pool, gym and sunken courtyard. The nearby Marie Curie Hospice also wrote to the council about its fears for the effect on its cancer patients.
The girls said they were concerned that dust and noise from the building work would interrupt their science lessons because their laboratory block is just a metre away from the proposed building site.And they won! Gosh! How on earth did they manage that?
And they recruited the help of one parent, a leading international lawyer. Fiona Parkin QC, specialises in advising multi-national companies, governments and public bodies.Ah. That’ll be the thing that swung it, I guess.
She said: “Any replacement building should enhance the conservation area to a greater extent than the existing building. That is the test that has to be applied.”
Another parent, Jackie Orlick, said she was delighted the girls’ protests had persuaded the council to turn down the plan.
She said: “This was the only way the girls could make their voices heard. We are always being told about young people being disengaged from the political process, so it was great that they came here [the town hall] and engaged with what is going on in their community and had their say.”And what sort of ‘say’ did they have? Was it really totally voluntary, and unprompted by their teachers?
Nearly 100 primary children convinced planners to turn down the scheme after they stood outside Camden town hall chanting: “Education, not excavation.”Goodness me! I really hope that was in their lunch break, or after school hours. Or at the weekend…
Local councillor Chris Knight said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the children. It has given them an insight into local politics.”It’s certainly given them an insight into the way the world works, yes…