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Crowds slam ‘Bishops Avenue’ plans for Highgate Bowl at heated meeting

Highgate School's Mills Centre was packed to the brim with residents waiting to hear details of proposals to develop the Highgate Bowl. Picture: Polly Hancock Highgate School's Mills Centre was packed to the brim with residents waiting to hear details of proposals to develop the Highgate Bowl. Picture: Polly Hancock

Thursday, October 10, 2013
12:00 PM

“The Bishops Avenue will be brought to Highgate” if plans to develop a valuable stretch of land go ahead, residents warned at a fiery public meeting on Tuesday.

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Highgate Society policy and projects chairman Michael Hammerson speaks at the meeting. Picture: Polly HancockHighgate Society policy and projects chairman Michael Hammerson speaks at the meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

Community members spilled out of the door to hear a presentation on proposals to build three luxury homes on land known as the Highgate Bowl, and dozens made their opposition clear.

There were several impassioned speeches from residents who explained why they feel the former Highgate Garden Centre site, off Townsend Yard, should not be turned into a residential development.

Michael Hammerson, of the Highgate Society, said: “The scheme would transform Highgate’s character by bringing the Bishops Avenue into Highgate.”

He later told the Ham&High: “The Bishops Avenue is a national example of large, gated private housing, absolutely devoid of any sense of community. This type of development would adversely affect the character of Highgate.”

Another resident added: “It’s never been about the buildings. The Bowl is an important part of Highgate and its character. Nothing has changed since the last application – it’s as vulnerable as ever.”

Staff from Haringey Council’s planning department, who chaired the meeting, announced that there would not be any representatives from developers Omved International Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands, at the meeting at Highgate School’s Mills Centre, in Bishopswood Road.

Chair of the meeting Emma Williamson apologised on their behalf in response to the audience’s incredulity. Planning director Ransford Stewart admitted the reason for the applicant’s absence was because “they are all on holiday”.

One resident said she was concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the scheme.

But a lone advocate for the new homes, which would mimic the look of existing greenhouses and office buildings, said “people don’t like change”.

“I think I am the only person here who thinks they have done a good job,” she said. “I urge you to look at the merits of the scheme instead of bringing ownership into it. I really don’t like this sense of entitlement. We are not entitled to that land.”

Comments from irate residents were recorded and a transcript will be passed on to the applicants to consider. Views voiced on the night will be taken into account when a planning committee decides whether to grant permission for the housing plans.

A date for the start of the consultation has not been set because of an error in the planning application.

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