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New owner erects hoardings at Highgate Magistrates Court to keep squatters out

The former Haringey Magistrates Court being boarded up and fenced in. Picture: Polly Hancock The former Haringey Magistrates Court being boarded up and fenced in. Picture: Polly Hancock

Thursday, May 8, 2014
5:00 PM

Anxious neighbours have been reassured about the future plans for the former Highgate Magistrates’ Court after builders with pneumatic drills erected hoardings around the derelict building this week.

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Workers erect the hoardings at the former court house. Picture: Polly HancockWorkers erect the hoardings at the former court house. Picture: Polly Hancock

The former court in Bishops Road closed its doors in December 2012 and has lain empty ever since.

But last week workmen boarded up windows, erected a fence and started drilling, angering residents who were concerned that demolition work was being carried out without their knowledge.

Crime novelist Matthew Baylis, 42, of Bishops Road, said: “I’m not one of those mad nimbys who doesn’t want anything to happen. I can see it’s inevitably going to be turned into flats, it’s what everyone jokes about.

“But obviously there has to be a consultation and that doesn’t seem to have taken place. How tall is it going to be? And from a sheer logistical point of view, how long is it going to take?

“I rather like the building, so if it is demolished I think it’s a shame. It has lots of beautiful green marbling on the windowsills. There’s something quite interesting about it.”

But new owners Bellway Homes, who exchanged contracts on the property on April 28, said the only work carried out was to erect hoardings to secure the court site.

The derelict court has previously been targeted by squatters and the legal process to evict them is understood to have delayed the sale of the building.

A spokesman for Bellway Homes said: “Following recent completion on the sale, we have erected fencing to secure the site.

“Following this, we were informed that there was some concern that we may have began developing on the site prematurely.

“Residents and interest groups can be reassured that we are simply looking to take precautions to safeguard the site and have not begun development work.

“They will be fully consulted during the planning application process where we will welcome all comments and feedback on our proposed plans.”

Bellway Homes is in pre-application talks with Haringey Council about plans for the site, which the local authority suggested could be turned into a hotel following a land assessment in January.

However, it is understood that Bellway Homes developments usually mix residential and commercial units, or are purely residential in nature.

The company is one of the UK’s largest house-builders.

Before preliminary works could take place, the owners would need to apply for conservation area consent as well as planning permission, as the court sits in the Highgate Conservation Area.

Haringey Council enforcement officers visited the site on Friday to check that works were not in breach of the conservation area guidelines.

Michael Hammerson, vice-president of the Highgate Society, said the association was not aware that works had begun.

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