Campaigners vow to buy Highgate Bowl after toasting planning appeal victory

Campaigners have celebrated victory in a 50-year fight to save the leafy stretch of land known as Highgate Bowl, after a planning inspector threw out plans to build luxury homes.

The prosecco flowed readily at The Highgate Society’s headquarters in South Grove at the weekend after residents heard the news that proposals for three houses on the site of the former Highgate Garden Centre, off Townsend Yard, were rejected by the Planning Inspectorate last Thursday.

Developers Omved International Ltd, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, appealed last month to overturn Haringey Council’s decision to refuse planning permission.

Martin Adeney, chairman of campaign group The Friends of Highgate Bowl, said the inspector’s ruling paved the way for the community to protect the land indefinitely by buying up parts of the Bowl.

The 72-year-old, of Somerset Gardens, said: “We hope it will lead the way for the land being preserved for the inhabitants of Highgate for generations to come.”

Planning Inspector Joanna Reid ruled in her appeal decision that the proposed homes would be “harmfully intrusive”.

She said: “The Bowl is significant as a remnant of the once rural village setting of Highgate, and its spatial qualities are cherished by many local people.”

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She concluded: “The proposal would seriously erode the significance of this part of the Bowl as a historic area once used for pasture and historically important backland, and thus its important heritage value as a setting for the village.”

Ms Reid added that the proposals failed to preserve or enhance the Highgate Conservation Area.

Elspeth Clements, of the Highgate Society’s planning and development committee, said: “We are very happy and we hope this is the end of it now.

“We hope the ruling... will stop the endless roundabout of applications and appeals.”

The Friends of Highgate Bowl is now poised to launch a fundraising appeal to find the millions of pounds needed to buy the land, after the group won charitable status last week.

The campaigners hope to build a “mini Eden project” – an education centre teaching adults and children about the environment – and to expand the Harington Scheme, a charity which runs horticultural classes for young people with learning disabilities on Bowl land.

Mr Adeney said: “Every bid over the last 50 years to develop it has failed. That’s encouraging, but that doesn’t mean it will fail forever.

“It’s not an easy thing to do but that’s why we have come up with the idea to buy the land to put an end to the endless procession of applications and refusals.”

Planning consultants Michael Burroughs Associates did not respond to a request for comment.