Planning inspector to rule on Highgate Village ‘giant toilet’ modern house

A father is trying to overturn Camden Council’s decision to stop him erecting a modern building in the heart of Highgate Village, that has caused a fierce planning row.

Iain Brewester, 44, has been battling for eight years to build a modern three-storey building on the corner of Highgate High Street and South Grove.

But the plans, which include a new home for his family as well as shops at ground level, were rejected by the local authority in February following opposition from the community.

The Highgate Society opposed the development saying it was out of character with the rest of the village and the design was even likened to a “grand version of a metal toilet”.

It was feared the modern development would ruin one of Highgate’s most iconic views as people enter the village, across a pretty vista of trees to Pond Square.

Now agents working on behalf of Mr Brewester have formally appealed the council’s decision with The Planning Inspectorate.

The appeal is on the grounds that the council “failed in its legal duty to apply a fair, rational and reasonable interpretation” of its planning policies.

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Mr Brewester, who has two young daughters and whose family has owned the land for 38 years, said: “The reason it’s been appealed is because the decision was made on political grounds and had nothing to do with the merits of the building.

“A huge amount of thought has gone into it. The design got into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which has given me huge encouragement.

“I have lived in this house for 35 years and want to continue living here. I believe this is the right way forward.

Designs for the site, which has been home to Village Flowers florists for 17 years, were drawn up by award-winning architects Birds Portchmouth Russum.

Just months after the scheme was turned down by Camden’s planning committee, the Royal Academy of Arts commended the design and included a model in its prestigious summer exhibition.

But the Highgate Society has vowed to continue to oppose the plans.

Michael Hammerson, of the society’s environment committee, said: “We believe the design is completely wrong for this site.

“We’re not making any comment on the architecture, whether or not we like it. It’s not a matter of the architecture, it’s the bulk and the irreparable damage which we think it will do to the historic village character of the area.

“We will be at the appeal and will continue to oppose this application.”