Highgate business owners rejoice as luxury housing plan for furniture shop is delayed

Some of the Independent business owners who work from the units in the yard behind the former Richar

Some of the Independent business owners who work from the units in the yard behind the former Richardsons furniture shop on Archway Road. From left Cheyne Towers (Highgate Fitness Studios), Charlie Russell and Will Grayburn (DocWorks) Paul Brown (carpenter), Leon London (founder and owner of Highgate Fitness Studios), Ian Batten (clothing), and Jo Davies (painter). - Credit: Archant

Craftsmen and creative business owners have won themselves more time to save their workshops from demolition after councillors delayed a decision on a redevelopment of a prominent furniture shop.

Developer Archway Apartments Ltd applied to knock down landmark Richardson’s of Highgate in Archway Road, Highgate, and build 25 luxury flats and a medium-size supermarket.

But more than 30 people who use old outbuildings at the back of the shop in The Yard fear they will lose their livelihoods under plans to demolish the workshops as well.

Those who use the workshops include a painter, sculptor, as well as yoga teachers.

A Haringey Council planning sub-committee deferred a decision on the proposal on Monday after errors were found in the planning application.

Midwife Jo Davies, 57, who has used an outbuilding as a painting studio for more than 10 years, said: “It was a very good result.

“The developer saw the strength of feeling of the people who are going to be affected by this. It’s not just going to be a walkover.

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“My husband Paul [Brown] has had a workshop for more than 20 years and he would be forced into retirement by this,” added Ms Davies, of Muswell Hill.

More than 230 people signed a petition against the plans to overhaul the furniture shop, which was sold earlier this year after decades in business.

Among their objections were:

- the size of the proposed new building,

- the loss of daylight for residents living in nearby Causton Road,

- supermarket delivery lorries obstructing Archway Road,

- the lack of affordable housing and,

- the impact a new supermarket would have on the area’s independent shops.

Archway Apartments agreed to pay £255,000 towards affordable housing elsewhere in Haringey to compensate for the lack of affordable provision in the proposed development.

Speaking on behalf of the developer, planning agent Diana Thompson said at the meeting: “The application represents an opportunity to redevelop this prominent run-down and dilapidated site to provide a sustainable mixed-use development for Archway Road.”

Original plans to build a gym in the basement were scrapped after objections from residents. The developer is now offering workshop users “affordable” space, but concerns have been raised over a lack of natural light and ventilation.

They have also complained that the proposed rent is too high and would push them out of business.

Ms Thompson said: “The [current] units have no heating and many suffer from damp and water ingress.”

Campaign leader Herminio Martinez, of Cromwell Avenue, told the meeting last week: “If these workshops were demolished, many of these people would be evicted and become unemployed. This valuable community asset would be lost.”

The planning application is expected to be reviewed again next year.