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Highgate Bowl: Charity ‘highly confused’ by poetic group’s plan for garden centre site

Campaigners who fought to block housing development say they are in the dark over what Omved International will do

06 April, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Work begins at the site off Townsend Yard

INTRIGUE surrounds the future of the Highgate Bowl after construction workers began clearing ground and a group said they want to bring “a sense of infinity, fused with tingle and elation” to the site via gardening.

Signs at the former Highgate Garden Centre, off Townsend Yard in Highgate Village, said the space will be used for “arts, events and the restoration of the gardens.”

But campaigners who have blocked past attempts to build luxury homes on the site say they have had no new contact with the owners, believed to be Omved International, and are in the dark as to what the future holds.

The website of a group calling itself Omved Gardens includes a quote from poet Andrew Marvell – “Annihilating All That’s Made, To a Green Thought In A Green Shade”.

Omved Gardens is described as bringing “a wealth of experience in projects which explore far-flung fields, farms and forests and celebrate the harvest of the natural world”.

The website adds: “Our passion is the synergy between food and creativity and this informs our business activity as well as our social enterprises.”

When the New Journal made contact, an email from “Team Omved” said they had previously been employ­ed as social workers in Camden. The message added: “We love poetry, especially Andrew Marvell and TS Eliot. They have coursed through the veins of inspiration for Omved Gardens.”

Team Omved say the “Om” part of the name is an “imperishable word” while “ved” refers to “absolute consciousness”.

The email added: “This is what we seek to bring to Omved Gardens – an awakening of not just the five senses but trying to bring forth the sixth – that sense of infinity, fused with tingle and elation.” It went on: “Omved’s team of landscapers, food producers, curators want to work with well-wishers to produce a perfect backdrop for arts, events and even the contrary dream of the most chatoyant of springs as in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, bringing light, laughter and love to naysayers over the coming months.”

There is currently no planning application lodged for the land, though Haringey Council is considering a “certificate of lawfulness” confirming what the site can be used for. Council officers are aware work on mending greenhouses and removing tarmac is under way.

A spokeswoman added: “Refurbishing existing structures would typically not require planning permission, but our officers are looking into this.”

The Highgate Bowl has been given protected status by Highgate Neighbourhood Forum in an attempt to prevent luxury homes being built. A charity, Friends of Highgate Bowl, has been formed by civic groups.

Charity chairman Martin Adeney said: “It is highly confusing. There has been no explanation from the owners. If it were going to be gardens, this would be welcomed, but we are concerned this may not happen.”

The site has had different owners since Capital Gardens closed its branch in 2013. It was sold to Omved International for £2million and an application was lodged for three luxury homes on the coveted 11-acre site. This failed at a planning appeal in 2014.

Mr Adeney added: “Until things become clearer, the chances for another application are still high.”

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