The Friends of the Parkland Walk was originally established to fight proposals for the former railway land to be developed as a dual carriageway. Although the Friends have subsequently expanded their work into nature conservation and providing guided walks, campaigning on behalf of the Nature Reserve remains a key mission of the organisation. As the Friends are a stakeholder group, the Council has a duty to inform of us of any planning applications that may impact on the Parkland Walk. The committee look closely at all applications and where we consider impact to be non-existent or negligible, no action is taken. Where we consider an application does have implications for the Walk, the Nature Reserve or users of the Walk, the committee will act on behalf of the Parkland Walk and its users in line with its mission statement. The Friends also conduct regular boundary walks to ensure that residents do not attempt to poach land by extending their garden boundaries and also have regular meetings with the Council Parks Department to monitor progress on a number of cases.
3 Francis Place, Highgate
There has been an ongoing dispute over proposals by the owner of a house that abuts the walk to create a substantial basement and additional extension.
3 Francis Place was formerly a railway cottage and was originally contained within the perimeter of the Parkland Walk and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). In 1993 the property was sold off with a plot of land by Haringey Council. To ensure that owners of the house then, and subsequently, respected the unique location within a Nature Reserve and green space, the Borough Valuers Department and the Council's Legal Service in consultation with the Conservation Officer David Bevan, drafted a set of 13 restrictive covenants that formed part of the deeds for the property. 3 Francis Place is the property on your left which you will see shortly after entering the Parkland Walk in Highgate after you have walked about 40 metres towards Finsbury Park.
The Restrictive Covenants
The 13 Covenants include a ban on the removal of any clay, gravel or soil from the area, a complete ban on the use of motor vehicles to or from the property and the notice that no works should be carried out that are a nuisance to users of the Parkland Walk or its neighbours.
Planning application and first Construction Management Plan
In 2015, an application was received by the council Planning Authority for development of the property. This included a basement that would extend beyond the current footprint of the property and an additional extension. The Planning Authority gave approval subject to an approved Construction Management Plan (CMP)
The Friends ran a petition to reject the first CMP and for the council to uphold restrictive covenants. It received 1,349 signatures in support. Haringey Planning Authority takes the position that the restrictive covenants are not material considerations for making its decision. However over 300 objections were submitted to Planning. The main concerns were a sustained 16 week period of access via the Parkland Walk at Holmesdale Road by 26 ton lorries and further vehicles for the duration of the project (46 weeks), increased safety risks to the thousands of users of the walk including children, school groups and dogs, a lack of depth and specificity contained in the application with regard to vehicles and safety and also the reduction of access to the Walk. Many, including ourselves, raised concerns that any construction management plan would, by default, breach the restrictive conditions in the covenant. The CMP was withdrawn by the applicant.
Second Construction Management Plan
A revised CMP application was received on the 2nd March 2016. This proposal varied little from its predecessor but did concede that works could be carried out by wheelbarrow. The petition was reopened and reached a staggering 2,542. The Friends and large swathes of the general public still found this project unacceptable as it still contravened many of the restrictive covenants and would still have been extremely disruptive. This second CMP was approved by the Planning Authority.
The Final Decision
As Haringey Council is an author of and party to the covenants, it had the final say as to whether or not it was prepared to waive any restrictive covenants. To have done so would have created a number of precedents. We are delighted that the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Peray Ahmet, recognised the importance of protecting the Parkland Walk and its users and robustly rejected any activity that contravened the covenants.
The Current Position
It is believed that plans to create a basement have been shelved and that the owner is in the process of refurbishing the property and bringing up to a habitable condition although no statements confirming that have been made. The Friends remain vigilant and determined to ensure that all works comply with the law and that users of the Parkland Walk continue to get safe uninterrupted access.