Key figures come out in support of Highgate centre redevelopment

The new community centre designed by architects RCKa

The new community centre designed by architects RCKa - Credit: Archant

Organisers behind a Highgate community centre have come out in favour of a major development on the site, in spite of vocal opposition from some residents

The Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) in Bertram Street, owned by Camden Council, will be demolished if final planning permission is granted.

There will be 31 private homes which will cover the project costs, as well as a new sports hall and youth facilities, under the draft plans.

Director Andrew Sanalitro feels “lucky” to have the investment.

The centre, offering wellbeing and arts and crafts activities, may move out when work starts in late 2017.

But it will still provide services temporarily from the nearby Holly Lodge Community Centre, Highgate Library and Hargrave Hall, before returning around 2018.

The CEO of a disability group based in the centre wrote to the Ham&High in support of the move.

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Helen Dayson, of Chainreaction in Town, part of the Kingsley Organisation, wrote: “We fully support the new build option.

“For us to deliver our services in an environment which is fit for purpose would be wonderful...

“Accessible lifts making all aspects of community life available to disabled people would promote greater inclusion.”

But Francisco Javier Encinas, Thanos Morphitis, Karen Parde, Katharine Pitman, Patricia Salazar and Ian Williams, wrote a joint letter criticising the plans.

They said: “The community will face two to four years of noise, dirt and disruption.

“The centre will lose all momentum, the service providers will all move elsewhere and we believe this will put HNCC under such strain it may not survive.”

Cllr Phil Jones said: “We have made several changes to the scheme to take into account residents’ opinions, including lowering the proposed buildings’ height, and there will be an opportunity to give further feedback when the planning application is submitted.”