Row erupts over ‘monstrous’ Highgate new build

PUBLISHED: 17:12 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 07 February 2018

The new development at 69 Highgate High Street to the left. Picture: JON KING

The new development at 69 Highgate High Street to the left. Picture: JON KING


The owner of a Highgate new build has defended its design after critics branded it a “monstrosity”.

The development under wraps. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS The development under wraps. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The owner of a new build has defended its design after critics branded it a “monstrosity”.

Gasps of surprise met the unveiling of 69 Highgate High Street when scaffolding was taken down to reveal something not quite to everyone’s taste.

Criticism of the build opposite The Gatehouse pub grew not least in the letters pages of the Ham&High where one resident called it a “ghastly monstrosity”.

But owner Iain Brewester said the site of ramshackle outhouses in his family for 46 years needed attention after it became a drain on his finances and target of anti-social behaviour.

A flower stall which used to be situated on the site where 69 Highgate High Street now stands. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS A flower stall which used to be situated on the site where 69 Highgate High Street now stands. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

“I set out to create a wonderful home. People can make up their own minds if they like it or not, but anything on this site would create opinion. I have had many more positive comments about it,” he said.

Liverpool University’s emeritus professor of architecture Mark Swenarton, of Highgate, defended its “skilful” work saying the job was handled well by architects Birds Portchmouth Russum whose principal designer’s own home, featured in Channel 4’s Grand Designs, is in Wood Lane.

But for the Highgate Society the new build is a brick too far.

Critics slammed it alleging it failed to get the development thrown out when the plans, refused by Camden and objected to by Haringey and English Heritage, were granted on appeal.

Chairman Jan Morgan said the Society was “not about stifling development” but focused on encouraging “good development”. “We have an excellent record of engaging with developers and architects in advance of planning proposals,” she said.

A point Mr Brewester denied claiming he offered to work with the Society but instead it attacked both him and the design.

The Society – formed in 1966 to stop plans to reroute heavy traffic through Highgate – argued it was hampered at the appeal where it was not allowed to speak formally.

Ms Morgan said: “All we could do was raise our hands when a contested point was made and ask to respond. But the planning inspector seemed to think it was not necessary for us to do so.”

But Mr Brewester accused the Society of being undemocratic: “If Highgate’s fate lay in their hands, this small but powerful group would keep it exactly how they want, ignoring the wider community’s views. The new shops will breathe life into what was an unceremonious end to the High Street creating business opportunities and jobs.”

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