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Up for sale Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve given ‘asset’ protection by Town Hall

Auction sale - with a starting price of £80k - temporarily put on hold

27 June, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Terry Reynolds and Jeanne Pendrill are campaigning for the nature reserve to be protected from developers

VOLUNTEERS behind a fundraising drive to buy a nature reserve that stands under threat of development were given a welcome boost this week after the Town Hall renewed legal protections on the land.

The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve in Kentish Town was put up for sale by its owners, the Fitzpatrick family, two weeks ago.

Listed on an auction site with a starting price of £80,000, the news caused shock among the volunteers and users of the piece of land.

It has a protective covenant forbidding any building. Now the sale has been temporarily halted, with the land being taken off the market, while Camden Council has re-issued an Asset of Community Value (ACV) ruling.

It means the site, used by schools for outdoor learning, enjoys additional protection under planning law. Crucially, if put up for sale, it must now be first offered to community groups during a six-month moratorium before being sold on the open market.

Reserve founder Jeanne Pendrill, who first began tending the plot 32 years ago, told the New Journal that as council officers looked at the site, volunteers were also reminded of the number of trees on the land that have protection orders.

She said: “It is brilliant the ACV has been renewed, and the TPOs [Tree Protection Orders] is another layer of protection from development.” The volunteers are pushing the owners to negotiate, she added.

She said: “We have contacted the owners to see if we can discuss what the future may hold and we are waiting for them to come back to us.”

A crowdfunding page has been set up and more than 1,500 people have signed a petition against the sale. Ms Pendrill said: “People are putting everything into this. While we aren’t sure yet what the next step will be, as we are waiting to hear from the owners, we are pushing ahead with crowdfunding to see if we can buy it.”

Town Hall community chief Labour Councillor Danny Beales said: “We have recently designated Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve as an Asset of Community Value for a further five years. The nature reserve has been well used by the community for over 30 years, and it furthers the social wellbeing and health of the local community. Being an ACV means that there is a legal responsibility that the owner must give us notice if they wish to sell the site. Community groups then have a six-month period to raise money to bid for it, during which the owner cannot sell except to a community group.”

He added: “We also recognise the importance of the nature reserve through our planning policies, which designate and protect the site as an open space and site of nature conservation importance. We have made this designation clear to the site owner.”

The New Journal has contacted the Fitzpatrick family for comment, but they have not responded.

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