Harry Hallowes: Auction of famous squatter’s Heath plot could leave it open to developers, warn conservationists

PUBLISHED: 17:53 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:00 15 June 2018

The plot that Harry Hallowes owned on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Savills

The plot that Harry Hallowes owned on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Savills


Hampstead conservationists fear a half-acre portion of the Heath could get built on if it falls into the wrong hands at a controversial auction on Monday.

Harry Hallowes lived in a shack on the Heath for 20 years before gaining the land under squatter's rightsHarry Hallowes lived in a shack on the Heath for 20 years before gaining the land under squatter's rights

Harry Hallowes, who was awarded squatter’s rights in 2007 after living on the plot for 20 years, inspiring a 2017 film, left the land in his will to two charities for the homeless, Shelter and Centrepoint.

The City of London Corporation (CoL) and the 121-year-old Heath and Hampstead Society made an offer for the land, which is below the private gardens for Athlone House – but was rejected. The groups say they would have incorporated it back into the Heath had the offer been taken up.

The society’s chairman Marc Hutchinson said: “The society is disappointed that the vendors of the plot have rejected a generous offer by the City of London Corporation and have decided to auction it.

“There is always a risk that, if the land remains in private hands, it will become subjected to attempted development, contrary to Harry’s known wishes and to the detriment of the surrounding Heath.”

Planning laws prevent any development on the plot, meaning it could only legally be used as a garden if purchased by a private buyer.

CoL’s Hampstead Heath management committee chairman Karina Dostalova said: “Harry had fought developers himself so we thought he would have been happy for it to become part of the heath.

“We still fully intend to bid but, as we are a charity, we only have a certain point we can go to and we just do not know who the other bidders might be.

“Hampstead Heath has a unique character with lots of wildlife species that flourish there and you just do not know what plans a private buyer could have for that land. They could chop it all down.”

The charity, which spends more than £5m a year to maintain the Heath, said it made its original offer based on independent evaluations.

In a joint statement, the charities said they would put funds raised by the sale directly into the vital work that Harry wanted to be his legacy.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:30

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

There are more than 3,000 homeless families housed by Haringey Council in temporary accommodation in the borough and more than another 1,000 housed outside the borough according to Trust for London.

Yesterday, 15:23

A woman from Temple Fortune turned have-a-go-hero and chased a pair of criminals – causing them to drop a wad of stolen cash – after an elderly woman was robbed at a Temple Fortune cashpoint.

Yesterday, 13:15

Haringey Police are appealing for infomration after a 40 year old woman was sexually assaulted on a Muswell Hill Bus.

Yesterday, 12:53

Two rogue swans rapidly regretted the decision to land on the Hampstead Heath ponds when the resident swan family chased them off the water and left them “a bit battered” on a grass verge.

Yesterday, 12:51

Westminster City Council has announced plans to bring its housing programme back in house for the first time in 16 years.

Two hundred years ago, while lodging locally, John Constable completed a series of paintings memorialised Hampstead as a sleepy village, then perched past the outskirts of London: the very model of idyllic country living.

Yesterday, 11:16

A reward of £10,000 is being offered for information into the 2013 disappearance of Kilburn man Robert Duff – who police believe may have been murdered.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now