Gospel Oak nature reserve up for auction for a third time
- Credit: Debbie Humphry
A community is fearful a protected nature reserve in Gospel Oak will be "lost forever" as it goes under the hammer for a third time.
Trustees of the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve have been told that the site has been put up for auction again – this time advertised as "a plot of land measuring approximately 32,860 sq ft subject to a 5 year lease producing £18,000 per annum".
The land, protected by covenants and an asset of community value, is listed for sale on February 10 by Auction House London with a guide price of £100,000 plus.
Emily O'Mara, a trustee of MTNR, said the community wishes to buy the land and negotiate a price with the owner of the site, Mark Hamburger.
She said they were shocked to discover the land had been leased to Paula Woodman, founder of Woodentots Montessori Nursery, for a term of five years starting on December 15 last year which takes affect in September.
Emily said: "The owners have told us repeatedly that they were not interested in leasing the land or negotiating access only in selling.
"Trustees are now going to ask the owners if they will accept the £200,000 offer that McHugh and Co have previously told two interested parties is the going rate.
"If so, we have a huge fundraising campaign ready and waiting in the wings."
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She added: "By giving this lease agreement now so the owners can advertise it that way in an auction lot, that can make it much more of an incentive for someone to bid on it.
"It doesn't mean a new owner will honour Paula's lease agreement either, if they've got until September to terminate it.
"It's a bit of risky game and putting the longevity of the site at major risk."
The nature reserve failed to sell as part of an online auction by McHugh & Co in October with a guide price of £165,000.
Mr Hamburger bought the site from previous owner Fitzpatrick Team Properties in March last year.
Paula Woodman told the Ham&High she was approached by the owner, saying: "I've got five months trial to see if I want to do it then I can get out in September. I just want to try it. What's important is that children get outdoor education.
"If I'm not welcome I'm not going to do it."
Mark Hamburger was approached for comment.
To donate to the crowdfunder, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/save-mortimer-terrace-nature-reserve-2