Homes fears for Highgate Bowl after garden centre sold for £2million
The fate of a garden centre which has been operating from a prize piece of green space for 40 years hangs in the balance again.
The owners of Highgate Garden Centre say no decision has been made about the site’s future, but it could close down this year.
Capital Gardens, which runs the centre, sold the freehold to the land on which it is located – known as Highgate Bowl – in September last year.
Last week it emerged the land, which has often been targeted by developers, had been bought for £2million by a company called Omved International Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands.
According to the Land Registry, the price paid was £2,062,000.
Rumours have since circulated that the centre will be closing in July. But managing director of Capital Gardens, Colin Campbell-Preston, said: “No decision has been made to close the centre, but if it were to close it would be in July or December because that’s when our seasons end.
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“The new owners of the land do not want it to close and we do not want it to close, but it’s a question of economics.”
He said mounting debts and the high value of the land meant it made sense to sell the freehold. He also said strict planning regulations made it difficult to develop and grow the centre, which employs 10 people.
“The sale of the land moves the goalposts and makes it more likely it will close,” Mr Campbell-Preston conceded. “Are we happy about it? No, we’re not.”
He said money from the sale would be reinvested in the company’s other garden centres located around London.
In 2011, Haringey Council turned down a planning application from R&D Properties to build on the 11-acre plot, citing a failure to provide evidence that the site was not feasible as a business.
Campaigners opposed to the land being used for new houses have raised concerns that it could be built on in future.
Stuart Bull, of the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum, said: “We have to presume a planning application will go in. It’s a valuable open space – you could say it’s an ecological corridor that links Hampstead Heath, Waterlow Park and the whole of the bowl. It would be sad to see yet another application just for carving up that space for the benefit of the few as opposed to keeping it open for the whole of London.”