Campaigners renew rally to save nature reserve back up for auction

Protesters fighting to save Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve in 2019

Protesters fighting to save Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve in 2019 - Credit: Debbie Humphry

A nature reserve with roots in the community has been put up for auction again.

Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve, off Highgate Road, is listed for sale by McHugh & Co as part of an online auction on Thursday (October 14) with a guide price of “£165,000+”.

An independent survey conducted for trustees of the reserve, shared with this newspaper, valued the property at £25,000 in April.

The nature reserve was valued at £80,000 as part of an auction in 2019 – before being withdrawn. The site is listed as an asset of community value (ACV) and is now owned by Mortimer Terrace Ltd, having previously been run by the Fitzpatrick family. 

Campaigners fighting to bring back the nature reserve for public use fear the latest efforts to sell once again threatens the future of the local green space.

Campaigners outside of the locked gate to the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve. Picture: Sam Volpe

Campaigners outside Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve after the gates were locked in 2019 - Credit: Archant

In a joint statement, Jessica Jacobs and Emily O'Mara, trustees of Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve, called the plot a “truly unique wild space” rich in biodiversity that has held a “special place in the hearts of the community” for more than 30 years.  

Jessica added: “We want to bring back the nature reserve into community ownership to have full access to schools, so that the public and the community can once again use that space.  

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“That’s what were’ fighting to do. We all want to make sure Camden is protecting its ACVs.” 

As the site has ACV status, the local community was notified by the town hall of a six-month moratorium in April to launch a bid to buy the site.  

However trustees claim Camden Council isn’t doing enough to protect the nature reserve.  

“If nothing is done to stop this auction, the implication is that local councils and neighbourhood forums have no real power to protect our natural resources,” Jessica and Emily said.

The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve. Picture: Sam Volpe

The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Cllr Danny Beales, Camden’s cabinet member for investing in communities, said: “Being an ACV means that there is a legal responsibility that the owner must us notice if they wish to sell the site. 

“The powers however do not allow Camden to prevent a sale or give the community a right to own the space.” 

Cllr Beales said the site is “strongly protected in local planning policies”. He added: “We remain committed to work with the local community to ensure access to this important local space.” 

Mark Hamburger, listed as director for Mortimer Terrace Ltd on Companies House, was contacted for comment.