Developers defend controversial Highgate Bowl scheme

THE developers behind a controversial scheme to build three huge mansions on an historic Highgate green space defended their plans last night.

Proposals to replace the existing garden centre on the 11-acre site with new homes sparked widespread opposition from local residents last month.

The grassy plot, known as the Highgate Bowl for its curved hillside, is a much-loved part of the area’s landscape which dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was used for grazing animals.

But the team behind the redevelopment have claimed the land can no longer remain in its present state because the garden centre is set to go.

They told a packed meeting at the Mill Centre on Bishopswood Road that the centre is in serious financial difficulties and has been struggling to stay afloat for some time.

In addition, they argued that the three low-rise houses planned were the least damaging option for the site.

One of the architects presenting the case, Piers Smerin, said: “We believe by putting just three houses on the site we could do as little damage as possible while stripping away all the unsatisfactory things on the site and replacing them with greenery and trees.”

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While Andrew Warner, the agent representing the developer, added: “The garden centre is going because the site is wrong for a garden centre.

“We’ve been told by the company that runs the garden centre that it’s almost impossible to run it on that site.

“That site doesn’t allow access to the large vehicles that are necessary to bring in bulk deliveries.”