First image of controversial new plans to redevelop Swain’s Lane shopping parade in Highgate

Highgate’s independent traders have said they will continue to oppose controversial plans to redevelop a popular parade of shops – after a mock-up image of the proposed buildings was released for the first time this week.

Developers behind the project to demolish and rebuild the parade in Swain’s Lane have scaled back proposals as a result of feedback from members of the Save Swain’s Lane Steering Committee and residents.

But the independent shopkeepers are anxious about the future of their businesses as construction works could take about two years to complete.

Florist Gary Covington, 53, of Covington Florist, said: “It’s more likely to be granted now than ever before. Who knows where I’ll be in two years?

“If I could be here then, that would be fantastic. But I can’t see it.

“The building needs doing up, I keep getting little drips everywhere, but I want to carry on here as long as possible.”

The owner of the site, the Earl of Listowel, this week submitted a planning application for two contemporary three-storey buildings, dropping to two storeys at the corner of Highgate West Hill and Swain’s Lane to provide a roof garden for residents.

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Liam O’Connor Architects, which designed the scheme, hopes the drop in height will protect the view of St Anne’s Church from Highgate West Hill.

Shop units on the ground floor will be occupied by independent businesses and the developers hope that the current shopkeepers will return to Swain’s Lane after construction works are finished.

Chairman of the Dartmouth Park Conversation Area Advisory Committee, Patrick Lefevre, 66, said: “I think it’s sad that after positive sessions with the community we don’t know what has gone into the application.”

Greengrocer Mickey Shamlian, 63, will keep fighting the plans: “They have done a good job this time but I will be against it. I’ve been a shopkeeper here for the past 20 years. Two years is a long time to come back, but I will be here. If I am alive, I will be back. None of us want to go.”

Earl Francis Listowel said: “The scheme will enhance this much-loved parade and increase the attractiveness of the area for existing and new businesses.”