Residents of the upscale neighborhood of Belsize Park in North West London are up in arms following the construction of an unapproved summerhouse behind their homes, which they describe as an “ugly atrocity.” The luxurious homes in this area, with an average price tag of £2 million, have been thrown into turmoil as they fear that this unauthorized structure may negatively impact their property values and serene garden views. This article delves into the ongoing dispute between the residents and the owner of the summerhouse, Michael Szalontay, as well as the planning authorities involved.


The controversy began when locals noticed the construction of the summerhouse, which they believed lacked the necessary planning permission. Concerned about the potential consequences of this development on their neighborhood’s aesthetics and property values, they promptly contacted Camden Council, urging them to halt the construction.

In response to the residents’ complaints, planning officials at Camden Council issued an order to stop the construction of the luxury summerhouse, which has been compared to an “air raid shelter” by one neighbor. Michael Szalontay, the owner of the controversial structure, subsequently submitted a retrospective planning application in an attempt to legitimize the building.

Residents have not minced words in expressing their discontent. One local resident described the summerhouse as a “great big horrible ugly thing” that has ruined the view from their back garden. Margaret Parker, a 77-year-old resident, characterized it as an “ugly atrocity,” expressing shock and disappointment at the sudden appearance of the structure.


Some residents, such as Azusa Tsuji, who is renovating a nearby house, are deeply upset by the impact of the summerhouse on their properties. Tsuji stated that the situation is “upsetting a lot of people,” and her husband has been handling complaints with the council on their behalf.

While Michael Szalontay claims that the summerhouse was constructed for his children to play in and to improve a previously neglected garden area, residents are not convinced. They argue that the structure is visually impairing and that it was built too close to their gardens. Additionally, some residents believe that it should not be allowed in a conservation area, further complicating the issue.

Online planning applications have also been flooded with complaints from residents. One individual using the alias ‘Bulldozer’ wrote to the council, describing the situation as “ludicrous” and insisting that the structure must be removed.


Paul James, representing several affected residents, highlighted the ongoing objections raised by residents and the lack of a swift response from the council. He argued that the retrospective nature of the application, coupled with the unauthorized commencement of construction, constitutes a clear breach of planning regulations. James emphasized the importance of the council taking decisive action to protect the integrity of the planning system and uphold the interests of the community.

Michael Szalontay, on the other hand, expressed his bewilderment at the residents’ complaints. He stated that the summerhouse was intended to provide a space for his children to play in and enhance their enjoyment of the garden. Szalontay claimed that he had sought legal advice throughout the project and believed he could construct the summerhouse without planning permission. He asserted that he and his family have the right to use their land as they see fit and that the summerhouse is a project undertaken for their children’s benefit.

The dispute between the residents and Michael Szalontay has garnered significant attention in the local community and beyond. As the deadline for registering complaints approaches, tensions remain high, and the future of the controversial summerhouse hangs in the balance. The outcome of this conflict will have implications not only for the residents of Belsize Park but also for the broader discussions surrounding property rights, planning regulations, and community interests in London’s affluent neighborhoods.



By AdminNN

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