Nature reserve saved from sale

Thursday, 10th February — By Dan Carrier

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The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

A NATURE reserve which was due to be sold at auction today (Thursday) was dramatically withdrawn last night – after Camden Council raised the funds to save the land from developers.

The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve in Kentish Town was established in 1986 and has been tended by volunteers.

But its gates were locked three years ago by its owners, the Fitzpatrick family, as they sought to find a buyer for the plot.

Boasting scores of trees with protection orders on them, and other planning hurdles to any plans for housing, new owner developer Mark Hamburger had hoped to sell the plot on for a profit late last year soon after buying the land.

But after trustees of the charity which has managed the space raised concerns, the plot did not reach its reserve price at the sale.

It was then due to be sold by auctioneers The Auction House with a starting price of £100,000.

Highgate ward Labour Councillor Anna Wright organised raising funds from Community Investment Levies across the borough, persuading fellow councillors to offer some funding from their wards to protect the land.

The final sale price agreed with the owner is £300,000 with contracts now exchanged.

She said: “It was the help and co-operation of other ward councillors, the Leader of the Council Georgia Gould and officers who moved quickly to halt its sale at auction, as well as the efforts by all the volunteers and trustees.”

Cllr Wright said the price reflected its value as a buffer against the major plans to redevelop the neighbouring Murphy builders yard (see page 6).

“It is wonderful to have some good news – this plot will now be saved as an open space in perpetuity,” said Cllr Wright.

Nature Reserve trustee Jessica Jacobs said: “We are all still slightly in shock. So often we see the wrong thing happening over issues like these – and today, for once, the right thing has been done.

“The reserve has been cared for by many committed volunteers for 30 years. It will be run for the community, by the community and kept a special place for wildlife for ever.”

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