Mansfield Open Space

 

Recent Announcements

  • DPCAAC Final Submission on Mansfield DPCAAC has published its final submission on the latest Mansfield application.  For the full text click on the image or the link below.
    Posted 19 Jun 2015, 03:17 by dartmouth park
  • Community Meeting Sunday 10th May York Rise Church Hall 7pm To object on line click http://goo.gl/bjwCLy.  Either way you will find a link enabling you to make comments on line.  Otherwise Google (or whatever) search ‘Camden Planning ...
    Posted 6 May 2015, 19:49 by dartmouth park
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The land here formed part of the huge estate of the Burdett-Coutts family and is part of what has become known as the Burdett-Coutts legacy.  This also included the land for Highgate Library, the school which is now Highgate Newtown Community Centre, Brookfield School and land for homes for WW1 'heros'.  The grant of the land was primarily for use for outdoor leisure activity, including tennis and bowls.  Sadly, and in contrast to the Library land, this intent wasn't enforced via the Deeds as effectively as it obviously should have been.  In their ruthless attempt to get planning permission, the beautiful outdoor green has been abandoned and an attempt is being made to evict the tennis players who have been a key users of the site for better than one hundred years.
 
 

By the mid-1930s most of the area previously devoted to allotments had post ww1 housing whilst retaining at least some of the open aspect of the site. The remaining open space, still open to York Rise and the extended Croftdown Road, remained, with the exception of the modest club house, devoted to outdoor leisure activities, particularly tennis. The start of the historic path is here still visible, as, indeed, it is on all OS plans until a year or so ago.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Open space circa 1913 marked in blue green.  This end of Croftdown Road hadn't been built yet.  Regency Lawn was built to the left (north) of the footpath.  The southern end (off York Rise) of the historic footpath was unlawfully blocked and the northern end interrupted notwithstanding the additional protection it has from covenants which run with the land.  At this time the site was open at the intersections of Croftdown and York Rise and Brookfield Park. The building which was then a school is now the Community Centre.
 
 
 
In the 1970s approaching two thirds of the open space was lost to buildings and tarmac for parking.  About a third of this was lost to speculative housing development of fifteen houses.  Then, as now, and with about the same level of credibility, this very substantial speculative private housing development was said to be merely 'enabling'.  The bulky then new MBC building and its associated tarmacked car parking was the bauble offered for allowing the fifteen house speculative development.  At the time, of course, no serious attempt was made to suggest this represented a community gain. The speculative housing development cut the site off from the public realm.  This set the tone for the running of the club for the next/last forty years, inward looking, with no serious attempt being made to ensure its operational viability or even to maintain the building.
 

A mere forty years since it was built, the building is now said to need massive refurbishment.  Again, permission is sought for a very substantial speculative housing development, this time eight four story (inc basement) luxury houses with associated private gardens, private roads and private parking in what is effectively a gated estate, to ‘enable’ this refurbishment.  If allowed the development would result in the effective loss of what remains of the open space.  Having pretty much abandoned the argument that the only way to prevent to open space from becoming derelict is to build over it, never much of an argument anyway, the developers now favour offering a ‘community gain’, a space in the refurbished building for a commercially run gym and carpet sized square of open space.  As baubles go, it is pretty thin.  The speculative luxury development and the resulting loss of open space simply doesn’t begin to be a proportionate response to the difficulties MBC have got into.  If MBC were seeking permission to develop and sell, say, one or two leasehold flats within the footprint of the ‘club house’, presumably plan B, there might be some sort planning argument for the proposal, not much of one but at least arguable.

 

The key problem for the speculators is that the community has repeatedly decided the loss of open space here had gone far enough.  After the 1970s development, the Council, informed by extensive public consultation, decided the remaining open space should be protected and it was designated in the UDP as open space.  In 2010 this designation was reaffirmed in the current statutory structure plan, the LDF, again after extensive consultation and after an Inquiry led by a Government Inspector.  The effect of this designation was set out for the developers in pre-application advice.  The LDF couldn't be clearer, see an extract from that advice opposite.

 

 

The site has also been the subject of more intimate local consideration since the 1970s.  Twenty one years ago this month the area was, after extensive consultation, designated as a Conservation Area.  The effect of this is that the Council is under a legal duty to do all it can to preserve and enhance the character of the Conservation Area.
 
After a long period of gestation, much local discussion and a long period of consultation, the Council adopted detailed guidance for the Conservation Area, including the Mansfield site, in January 2009.
 
Again, this guidance is set out fairly fully in the Council's pre-application advice to the developer: