Battle is lost as Highgate Magistrates Court flats win approval

Highgate residents described themselves as “too depressed to speak” after Haringey Council approved plans to demolish Haringey magistrates’ court and Highgate police station and replace them with a block of flats that includes a seven-storey tower.

At a heated meeting on Monday night, Haringey’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to developer Bellway Homes’ plans to build 82 flats in a development rising from three to seven storeys on the Archway Road site.

Elspeth Clements, an architect and chair of the Highgate Society’s social planning committee which led a two-year campaign, spoke on behalf of more than 130 objectors, telling the meeting: “The community feels betrayed. We are concerned that the height and bulk of the proposed development harms the conservation area.

“This sets an unfortunate precedent in that the total quality of the street scene will decline. We worked very hard and this is not the way to treat input from the community.”

A Harinegy Council spokesman said the committee “granted this application after assessing it on its merits and listening to the views of local people. The designs were publicly available to view throughout the planning process and at public consultations held by the developer during the last six months.

“We’re committed to bringing much-needed new homes to tackle Haringey’s housing crunch, especially the family-sized and affordable homes in this scheme.”

Representatives from developer Bellway Homes were met with jeers from more than 20 residents from the surrounding streets who sat in the public gallery to register their objections to plans to build a futuristic slate grey and cream building and a three-storey mews block, a third of which will be for affordable housing.

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James McConnelly from Bellway Homes told the meeting he was proud of the development and planning officers emphasised that it would deliver community benefits in terms of employment, education and improvements in local infrastructure.

One protestor scoffed: “You’ve got to be joking!” when planning officers said the block would have minimal impact on its surroundings.

Councillors voted 6-3 in favour of the development.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Clements said: “This alien element will completely destroy the street scene. The initial plans were for two or three storeys rising to four or five, but now they’re using jargon to justify a very tall building.”