Campaigners opposed to plans to build a 12-storey aparthotel on a former council car park flew an inflatable blimp at the site to demonstrate its “unsuitable” height.

The West Harrow Community Forum (WHCF) gathered in Vaughan Road car park to protest the proposed 43-metre tower on Saturday (November 28).

It argues the scheme is “completely wrong” for an historic neighbourhood made up of low-rise Edwardian housing.

As well as criticisms of the scale and design of the building, there are concerns it will harm local infrastructure and, since it is outside the designated town centre zone, could “set a dangerous precedent” for high-rise buildings across the borough.

And the group pointed out an aparthotel – hotel with some larger rooms to accommodate longer stays – fails to meet Harrow’s need for affordable family-sized housing, particularly given changes to working habits following the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has also launched an online petition against the plans, which has gained almost 1,400 signatures.

Mike Williams, of the WHCF, said it was vital not to let developers of high-rise buildings “creep” into areas where they are inappropriate.

“It’s not protected in the same way as (Harrow-on-the-Hill) but West Harrow village is part of ‘old Harrow’,” he said.

“We mustn’t let developers take lumps out of it, destroy it, and saddle it on the local community.”

The council, as the former owner of the site, had planned to develop the land.

However, due to “changes in the market”, it opted to sell it off to a developer to help balance its budget.

At a council major developments panel earlier this year, purchaser Dandi Living explained it hopes to provide 146 rooms in a building up to 12 storeys, as well as a rooftop restaurant overlooking Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Ali Ravanshad, founder of Dandi, said he wants to “put Harrow on the map” and is committed to a scheme that will “make a difference” in the area.

This includes “a brasserie offering Michelin star street food, a bakery, and event space with a dramatic view of St Mary’s Church”.

He said he hopes to see the aparthotel act as a catalyst that will “pave the way for other exciting projects” in the borough.

And he believes resistance to the proposal is “misplaced” and he would be happy to talk with the local community about any concerns they have.