Campaigners take legal advice to save ‘precious’ Highgate bowl

The green fields of the Highgate Bowl could be built upon

The green fields of the Highgate Bowl could be built upon - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are taking legal advice to defend the open green space of the Highgate Bowl for future generations and stop it from becoming open to luxury housing applications

The Highgate Society lodged an objection to plans from Omved International, owners of the former garden centre, for part of the centre to be used for “storage and distribution” for a landscaping business.

The society fears this could facilitate the Bowl’s use for luxury housing further down the line.

The Highgate Bowl is hidden, lying to the north of the bustling Highgate High Street.

A sweeping curve of open backland, it is all that remains of pasture lands used to fatten up livestock after their journey from the countryside, before they travelled to the London meat markets. And campaigners have been valiantly fighting plans to develop the land for more than 50 years.

In the latest planning application, the owners of the former garden centre are asking for a “certificate of lawfulness for existing use”.

They are claiming a landscape and maintenance business has been operating on the site for 25 years.

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The Highgate Society disputes this, arguing there is a lack of evidence to support claims of established use. And it is fighting the application vigorously because it fears it could open the floodgates to housing developments.

In a separate fight to keep the Highgate Bowl a green space, the society will be defending the Bowl’s hard-won designation as “significant local open land.”

Haringey Council gave the Bowl this designation in its draft local plan – but the society fears this will be challenged by landowners in the public examination taking place from the end of this month.

The society is instructing counsel on both planning matters and is appealing for donations.

Highgate Society vice chairman Michael Hammerson said: “We will be arguing strongly that the significant open land designation is correct and must be applied.

“If this fails, our 50 years’ fight to keep that land will come to nothing and we’ll get luxury housing.”

Chairman of Friends of Highgate Bowl, Martin Adeney, said his group is fighting to keep the land as a place where urban children can learn about agriculture and horticulture.

The Friends want to keep access to open and woodland areas and provide a “community hub” with a café, shop and heritage centre.

Mr Adeney said: “We want to have activities around the production of food [...] It’s amazing, the number of urban children who don’t know where their food comes from.

“There’s a whole wealth of possibilities – it’s a precious space and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

Omved International did not respond to a request for comment before the Ham&High went to press.