‘Anti-semitic’ jibe aimed at developers after bitter Highgate flats protest

Image of proposed development from Archway Apartments Ltd

Image of proposed development from Archway Apartments Ltd - Credit: Archant

A fracas broke out in the aftermath of a key planning decision after alleged anti-Semitic abuse was aimed at developers.

Two property developers were subjected to the alleged abuse after a controversial Highgate flats development was approved.

Councillors in the chamber heard a commotion from outside as they pressed on with the meeting last Monday.

Cries of “You’re anti-Semitic! You’re a fascist”. could clearly be heard in the lobby of Haringey civic centre.

Highgate resident Herminio Martinez was overheard stating that references to Shylock were not anti-semitic.

Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice, is one of Shakespeare’s more controversial characters.

He asks for a “pound of flesh” from a Christian character if his loan is not repaid.

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A video was taken of the incident, although it has not been made public.

Property developers Joe Gerrard and Michael Gerrard, both Jewish, declined to comment after the incident.

The confrontation, which lasted about a minute, followed a decision from councillors to re-develop a once-famous Highgate furniture store.

Developers Archway Apartments Ltd can now partially demolish Richardsons of Highgate on Archway Road and build 25 luxury flats and a medium-sized supermarket.

More than 30 people who use the outbuildings at the back of the shop in The Yard as business space fear they will be forced to move on.

The craftsmen are concerned the rent will be too high and that the new workspace in the basement will have limited light and air.

But planning agent Diana Thompson, speaking on behalf of the developers, offered reassurances that there would still be high quality and “affordable” work space.

“It would be well-lit and well-ventilated,” she said. “It would significantly increase the vitality of the workspace.”

She claimed the new work space would improve the “damp outdated premises which are not fit for purpose”.

But business owner Cheyne Towers said: “The impact of this decision is going to lead to the eviction of many people who have provided [service] to the community for many years.”

The original façade of the building will be maintained.

Developers Archway Apartments agreed to pay £255,000 towards affordable housing elsewhere in Haringey to compensate for the lack of affordable provision in the borough.