Row between Labour backer and neighbour Nicky Gavron over demolition plans

A row has broken out between a major Labour Party funder and a senior politician over plans to knock down a 19th century house in Highgate.

Andrew Rosenfeld, the millionaire businessman and private backer of the party, wants to demolish the arts and crafts style house and replace it with an imitation Jacobean style building.

But the planning application, which has been submitted to Haringey Council, has angered his neighbours – including former deputy mayor of London Nicky Gavron, a Labour London Assembly member and spokeswoman on housing and planning.

In a letter to the council, she writes: “I was not consulted, contrary to the applicant’s statement that immediate neighbours have been consulted and the only contact was a round-robin letter.

“The proposals are out of scale and character with this street within the conservation area and would be seriously detrimental to its character. They set a dangerous precedent.”


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Ms Gavron’s office said the letter was written in a personal capacity and not as a Labour politician or spokeswoman for housing and planning on the Assembly.

The Highgate Society believes this will be a test case for the future of the conservation area and has argued it will ruin the character of the street because the design is “inappropriate”.

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Michael Hammerson, representing the society, wrote to the council: “It can by no stretch of the imagination be accepted that the replacement of an – albeit sympathetically – altered building, which is part of an architecturally unified and consistent row of buildings, with what is little less than a pastiche of a historic style – in this case Jacobean – which is totally alien to the conservation area.”

But Mr Rosenfeld, who was chairman of property investment company Minerva plc, defended his plans.

His letter to Haringey Council said: “There seems to be a suggestion or implication from some quarters that we have not engaged in proper consultation nor responded to comments and observations made by those with whom we have spoken and represented.

“We commenced the consultation process around a year ago and have discussed our proposals not only with planning and conservation officers at the council, but also with the design review panel, the Conservation Area Advisory Committee, the Highgate Society and our neighbours.

“My architect has shown that most of the existing house has been altered over the years, leaving little of the original building.

“What we have sought to do is take what we consider the best aspects in the conservation area and apply a level of quality and detailing that is rarely achieved, in order that we and Highgate can enjoy a building of real merit.”

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Mr Rosenfeld, a former trustee of charity Jewish Care, was worth �100million in 2010.

The Ham&High visited Mr Rosenfeld’s Highgate home but was told he is out of the country and Montagu Evans, the property consulting firm representing him on the planning application, was unavailable for comment.

The application will be considered by the planning committee but a date is yet to be set.

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