CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Now bowling club land at centre of planning row is put on market at £6.8m

Fears any new scheme could lead to less affordable homes

23 November, 2017

A BOWLING club in Dartmouth Park is up for sale just a year after developers won a 10-year planning battle to build a housing estate on the land.

Mansfield Bowling Club, in Croftdown Road, shut down in 2013 after club directors struck a deal with housing firm Generator. They came together to create a plan to build 21 homes on the 1970s clubhouse site and create a “pocket park” along with three tennis courts.

Neighbours and civic groups had fought to save the land from redevelopment. It was given to the community by philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts more than 100 years ago so it could be used for sports. Members of Mansfield Neighbours Group had it listed as an asset of community value – and were backed by councillors, until a planning appeal sided with the developers and approved the scheme. Since that decision last year, however, the site has been left empty.

The New Journal has now learned that upmarket estate agents Savills is now looking for new buyers for the land, priced at £6.8m. Highgate ward Labour councillor Oliver Lewis warned that any new owners would have to honour commitments over public space and affordable homes. He said: “There is the worry that if it is sold someone new will come in and try and row back even further on things like affordable housing on the site.”

During the planning saga, Co-Ho, a community land trust group, drew up alternative plans to buy the site and build a small development for older people living in the area. It offered to put in place covenants determining who could buy the homes, what they could be sold on for, and to entrust the land to a non-profit group.

Co-Ho director Stephen Hill said: “This is completely and utterly predictable. It shows that when something is designated an asset of community value, commercial developers completely undermine the intention of this legislation by cynical land-trading activities.”

He added that Co-Ho would still be interested in pursuing the project it had suggested. “We would be interested in building the scheme we intended to do – which was realistic and a community-friendly use of the land – but the price would have to drop. The fact is Generator got planning permission for a scheme that no one would build in the current climate.”

Generator director Frank Amato said: “We continue to have a very positive relationship with the club. For operational reasons we are considering a disposal of the site.”

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