Camden News - by DAN CARRIER Published: 31 July 2008
The fairground land
Fairground family’s land up for sale
Heath Society campaigners say Vale of Health developers are ‘simply trying it on’
A PATCH of Green Belt on the edge of Hampstead Heath is being eyed up by developers after being put up for sale by the family who have lived on the site for nearly 150 years. The fairground land at the foot of the Vale of Health has been in the hands of the Abbotts family since the late 1800s but they are reluctantly thinking of moving because of old age and soaring living costs.
Owner Charlie Abbotts, who lives on the site with 10 members of his family, said he did not want to sell but his line of work with touring fairgrounds had suffered over the years.
He said: “It is getting harder to make ends meet. Our rates keep going up. I will be 79 in August and I do not want to move. It’s absolutely delicious being here but we have to think of our future.”
He allows other travelling fair workers to stay on the site free and, in return, gets similar deals for his grandsons, who work on fairgrounds across Britain.
The estate agents’ blurb states the land’s potential for housing, saying: “...this superb piece of land offers an incoming purchaser huge development potential”.
Agents Goldschimdt and Howland director Richard Humphreys conceded it was Metropolitan Open Land, but said: “It is down to the individual purchaser to make their own inquiries with the local authority.”
The New Journal has learned that the property is on the market for a down payment of £150,000.
The new owner would then seek planning permission, a job requiring expert planning barristers and architects.
If permission was granted, a further payment per square foot would then be made, pushing the price up well past £2 million. But should any plans be put forward, developers would face a bitter battle.
The Heath and Hampstead Society’s Gordon Maclean, who worked to stop a development in the Vale of Health last year, said the sale was a waste of time.
He said: “If anyone is foolish enough to buy it, they will be pouring money down the drain. No one would have any chance at all of getting planning permission. They are simply trying it on. It is only a valuable piece of land as part of the Heath and for the people who live there in caravans.”
Vale of Health resident Beryl Trevor-Roberts, who has lived in the area since the 1950s, said any development would be fought. She said: “It would be terrible if homes were built there. We always felt it was right that this should be kept as a site for caravans.”
Mr Abbotts’s family were originally Irish showmen who settled in the Vale of Health in Victorian times. They put on the Heath fairs and have stayed ever since.
Mr Abbotts said if the land was sold it would be the end of an era.
He said: “My aunt, who was called Violet Hampstead Miller, died last year – she was aged over 100. “She was born here and had lived here all her life.”