City law firm partner wins battle to extend Highgate home for disabled brother’s care

Helen Croke and her family have won a battle to extend her home in Fordington Road, Highgate, so she

Helen Croke and her family have won a battle to extend her home in Fordington Road, Highgate, so she can provide 24-hour care for her disabled brother - Credit: Archant

A partner at a top City law firm has won an 18-month battle against her neighbours to extend her Highgate home so she can provide 24-hour care for her severely disabled brother.

Helen Croke, of firm Travers Smith, and her family incited the wrath of the Highgate Society and her neighbours in Fordington Road when she submitted plans to build a ground floor and first floor extension to their £2.9million six-bedroom home.

But in an emotional plea to Haringey council planners on Tuesday night, her partner, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Adrian Cree, said the works were necessary to provide accessible facilities for Ms Croke’s 40-year-old wheelchair-bound brother.

The visiting lecturer at King’s College London university told a planning sub-committee: “James has been cared for by the family rather than in an institution, by the father. But he is now a widower and there is no-one else left to care for James.

“We always knew he would come to us so we are seeking to create a suitable house for him.

“While he needs 24-hour care, he is part of our family,” he continued. “We need wheelchair access to he can be with us in the kitchen when we eat and in the living room when we watch TV as a family.”

“James” was a healthy toddler until he suffered brain damage as a result of medical negligence at Northwick Park Hospital in Middlesex, Dr Cree said at the meeting.

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A bathroom will be made bigger to accommodate a specialist bath and the first floor will be extended for wheelchair access to suit the man’s needs, he added.

As well as requiring separate bedrooms for the couple’s three children, the family said they also need an additional bedroom for a 15-year-old Guatemalan girl who stays with them for a third of the year.

The family took her in as a baby after her father abandoned her, and have financed her education.

More than 50 objections were lodged against the extension plans over concerns about over-development, blocking light to neighbouring homes and lack of privacy for immediate neighbours.

Calling the designs “blunt and cuboid,” the Highgate Society wrote in a formal objection: “The extensions are overbearing on immediate

neighbours and out of keeping in terms of size and scale with other houses in the vicinity.”

Despite the opposition, the plans were approved by a majority on Tuesday.