Are gated private developments in Highgate a form of ‘anti-social exclusivity’?
Highgate may have taken its name from a tollgate which stood on the top of Highgate Hill hundreds of years ago.
But nowadays people would be forgiven for thinking it is a reference to the increasing number of people choosing to live behind high gates, walls and fences in a quest for privacy and security.
According to residents, the number of gated developments is on the rise, especially in the north-west of Highgate where some roads even have their own security guards.
The trend has been dubbed by members of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum a form of “anti-social exclusivity” which is segregating parts of the community.
“On some roads, you rarely see anyone jogging or walking their dogs,” said Simon Briscoe, a member of the forum. “No children chatting in the streets.”
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He added: “It is mostly just Range Rovers and white vans. The high fences are not pretty and seem a bit divisive.”
The findings are the result of a walkabout around Highgate which was organised by the forum.
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Members were split into groups which then explored different parts of the area they had never been to before.
The results were discussed at a meeting at The Bull in North Hill last week.
Surprisingly, the properties behind closed gates, though expensive, were not considered desirable by some members of the group because they were cut off from the community.
“The early results from the survey suggest that Highgate’s village atmosphere and the buzz in the streets are valued by many people,” Mr Briscoe said.
“Young and old rubbing shoulders in the busy high street or enjoying the green open spaces, pubs, community activities and the air of friendliness.
“It’s a different Highgate from the one behind the high walls on private roads.”
Chris Underhill, managing director of Prickett and Ellis Underhill estate agent in Highgate High Street, said he found private roads “soulless” but added they reassure owners worried about high-level crime, such as kidnapping.
He said: “The majority of occupiers living in private roads are based offshore.
“They are not local Londoners. They don’t need to integrate with the local community.
“For most of the year the homes are empty. They are secondary homes with an international flavour.”
He added: “One example of where a gated community does work is the Holly Lodge Estate. Its demographic is mixed, there are lots of families and its residents are involved in the community.”
Under the new Localism Act, Highgate set up its own neighbourhood forum. It hopes to adopt a plan for the future on how the area is developed.
The forum is calling on people who live or work in Highgate to fill out its questionnaire. To find out more, visit www.highgateneighbourhoodforum.org.uk
n Do you agree that gated developments encourage anti-social exclusivity? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @HamandHigh