Camden buys nature reserve to gift to the community

Cllr Anna Wright with Terry Reynolds, Lottie the border collie, Jessica Jacobs, and Emily O'Mara with her daughter

Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve saved! Cllr Anna Wright with Terry Reynolds, Lottie the border collie, Jessica Jacobs, and Emily O'Mara with her daughter Nina Joan Reynolds - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Locals have expressed joy and disbelief that a highly valued nature reserve has been saved for the community.

The battle for Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve (MTNR) has ended with Camden Council buying the plot of land from a developer, following months of negotiations.

The plot of protected land, that in the last few years has gone to auction three times and in February was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, was eventually sold by Mark Hamburger to the council for £370,000.

Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve trustee Terry Reynolds with Highgate councillor Anna Wright

Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve trustee Terry Reynolds with Highgate councillor Anna Wright - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The community launched fundraisers to fight each auction then, earlier this year, Highgate councillor Anna Wright asked her colleagues and opposition councillors to contribute their Community Infrastructure Levy funds.

The council then stepped in and leader Georgia Gould said on Tuesday: "The community wanted to buy it but we thought the best thing actually was for the council to buy it and gift it to the community."

Cllr Wright said: "It took sheer bloody-mindedness. Sometimes you think this needs to be done and you find a way to do it. The most rewarding thing for me as a councillor is that little role that gave me a bit of power and influence."

Terry Reynolds, who founded the reserve in 1987 with Jeanne Pendrill, said: "Since it was first established it was very important to us.

"The reserve goes back to the first bridge on Gordon House Road and is a good barrier between us and the Murphy's Yard development. 

"It's a lovely green space that's been saved and thank God for that.

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"It's Anna who motivated people and got it all done and we'll be eternally grateful for that."

Trustee of MNTR Jessica Jacobs said she felt "exhausted, elated and just so pleased for everybody".

Trustee Emily O'Mara added: "I can't believe it, I'm still in shock. It sets a precedent. It's a really great collaboration. This has taken years."

Mortimer Terrace saved!

Highgate councillors Camron Aref-Adib, Cllr Anna Wright, and Panny Antoniou with former Labour leader Ed Miliband and MNTR trustee Terry Reynolds - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who lives in Dartmouth Park, said it was "an incredible achievement to save the nature reserve and it teaches a wider lesson of what Camden is doing with a Labour council". 

He added: "It's taking action to support the local community. The climate crisis affects everybody, and there's also a chance to respond to it to make a better quality of life for people in Camden."