Dreams fade of ‘mini-Eden Project’ in Highgate Bowl with proposal for luxury homes

Hopes for a “mini-Eden Project” to replace a 40-year-old Highgate garden centre on prize land have been dashed after plans to turn it into luxury homes were unveiled.

Community groups have united in opposition to a renewed proposal for three detached homes in land known as Highgate Bowl, the first since Highgate Garden Centre closed in July.

Residents had hoped the valuable green space, located within a conservation area, would remain open to the public.

Highgate Neighbourhood Forum chairman Maggy Meade-King said: “We want to see it preserved for community use, particularly as something environmental or ecological, for the whole of London.

“There are various possibilities. We have been working with the Eden Project to create a mini-Eden there and we would be open to the Forestry Commission using it.”

She added: “In history, it’s been something the public has had access to and we doubt they would be allowed to with the new scheme.

“It would be an exclusive community, which we see too much of across Highgate.”

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Capital Gardens, which ran the garden centre, sold the freehold to the land in September last year to Omved International Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands.

Capital then closed the centre in July to focus efforts on their business in Alexandra Palace Way.

The proposal follows a refused planning application made by R&D Properties in March 2012, and a subsequent appeal, for three detached homes on the 11-acre Southwood Nursery site.

In an application submitted to Haringey Council’s website, planning consultants Michael Burroughs Associates said the 2012 scheme “proposed aggressively modern, dominant buildings designed in a way that (at its lowest) was not... consistent with the built character of this part of the conservation area.”

In contrast, the company argues the proposed buildings in the renewed application “are not materially higher or wider than the existing greenhouse and bungalow” in Highgate Bowl.

The community groups are now calling for residents to object to the plans in order to prevent more landowners selling off parts of Highgate Bowl for development.

Highgate Society member Liz Morris said: “If the application goes through, it will have a domino effect on every landowner, who will see the value of the land and sell it for development.

“We would have no Bowl left. That’s the biggest threat, to lose the entire Bowl.

“We are calling for action from all residents and people working in the area to write an objection.”

She has also called for Haringey Council to disallow planning applications for Highgate Bowl until a full public consultation on how the land should be used is carried out.

Michael Burroughs Associates were unavailable for comment.