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Forum topic: The future of Broomfield House: Back on the agenda?

The future of Broomfield House: Back on the agenda?

PGC Webmaster

06 Oct 2021 20:48 #6528

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[Original article]

Broomfield House Scaffolding 600pxBroomfield House: The mansion has been shrouded in scaffolding and its future in mystery for decades

There have been signs this week that Enfield Council has moved the question of the future of Broomfield House out of the Pending  (or Too Difficult) tray, where it had been gathering dust for many months, and into the For Action tray.

Having been seriously damaged by a series of fires, the first in 1984, the historic mansion that was once Broomfield Park's centrepiece has been swathed in scaffolding for decades, awaiting a viable scheme to secure its future.

In an email sent today to Southgate Green councillor Daniel Anderson, the borough's director of property, Mark Bradbury, revealed that the council has appointed a specialist heritage consultant to liaise with Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other stakeholders and to advise the council on next steps. They will be meeting with the Broomfield House Trust "shortly".

Mark Bradbury's email came in response to a message from Councillor Anderson sent on Monday, asking for an update and complaining about failure to keep ward councillors in the loop and to convene the Broomfield House Partnership Board.

Daniel Anderson's enquiry followed the publication in the October issue of Enfield Dispatch of a letter from the Broomfield House Trust complaining about the council's failure to answer letters sent in January and June asking about its strategy regarding the future of the mansion. In the letter Bill Yates writes:

"As guardians of this once handsome historic house, our feelings towards this silence are hard to summarise in a brief sentence. We have been angry, frustrated, sad and resigned by turns. Where do we go now? Is it the council's unstated plan to ignore the building until it finally falls down, so that it can be demolished; something which legally they are prevented from doing at present?"

After receiving this letter, Dispatch editor James Cracknell wrote an article, published in the same edition, summarising the history of attempts to resolve the question of Broomfield House's future and the current frustrations felt by Broomfield Trust members.

When James contacted the council for comment, he was sent a response by a "spokesperson" that contained the same wording as the message sent by Mark Bradbury to Councillor Anderson today.

The fact that the council are again doing something is encouraging, but it's unacceptable that the Broomfield House Trust's letters to the council went unanswered, that ward councillors weren't briefed and that it took a letter to a newspaper before the shrouds surrounding the house and its future were lifted a little.

For more detail follow the links below.

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The future of Broomfield House: Back on the agenda?

Colin Younger

03 Aug 2022 17:48 #6529

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Broomfield House: Where we are and how we got here.

Restoring Broomfield House after the series of five fires, the first in 1984, the last in 2019, has proved unaffordable. In 2013 The Heritage Lottery Fund rejected the joint Council-community bid for full restoration of the House. In retrospect, this was probably the best and last chance of saving the House for the public. However, beginning in 2014 the council-chaired Broomfield House Partnership Board (on which among others the Broomfield House Trust and Friends of Broomfield House were represented) examined a variety of alternative ways ahead. The Board last met in November 2018.

In March 2019 a Council-led workshop discussed the possibility of rebuilding the exterior of the house as it appeared at the time of purchase in 1902. This would restore the key visual heart of the listed park. Part of the funding for the initial stage would come from a small housing development in the listed stableyard, subject to Historic England’s approval. The Trust believed that once a structure was in place, and the confidence of other potential donors boosted it might then be possible to gradually restore key parts of the interior (Hall, oak staircase, and murals). The Trust funded the successful restoration of the Minerva Panel as evidence that this was possible

The council funded a proposal from The Regeneration Practice (TRP) intended to start the process off. The Broomfield House Trust and Friends of Broomfield Park representatives strongly supported the concept, at least as a starting point, but the Council rejected it in 2020. Information on the council’s consideration of the TRP proposal was only discovered through a Freedom of Information request.

Continuing with the policy of ad hoc meetings, the Trust was invited to a meeting on 15 November 2021 with Adrian Smallwood Head of Strategic Property Services and Dr Alix Slater of Alix Slater Consultancy & Training Ltd. (Dr Slater had been heavily involved in finalising the 2012 bid to the Lottery for a full rebuilding of Broomfield House).

Unfortunately, this meeting was exceedingly disheartening. In summary, Dr Slater said that the current National Lottery Heritage Fund “Expressions of Interest” statement and its priority outcomes which run up to 2024, meant that in her view the Broomfield House project does not score highly; new build and restoration is a lower priority, and the London/SE area is highly competitive, even though the Borough of Enfield is a priority for the NLHF.

The conclusion was that the House would be likely to be demolished and “memorialised” in some way, but that there was potential for securing funding for a restored stableyard and the Park. It was suggested that there could be a combination of housing in the Grade II listed stableyard with some undefined public use. What form “memorialisation” would take had not been decided and might be the subject of a public competition.

Inspite of request for a promised meeting to discuss their thinking, the Council have not responded to the Trust or Friends. Once again, as has happened on many occasions in the history of attempts to restore Broomfield House, the council has retreated from meeting with the Trust and Friends of Broomfield Park.

However, by 19 June, a Member’s Request from Palmers Green ward Councillor Chris James elicited this brief response, “Discussions with Historic England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) have been positive, and the Council is poised to submit an ‘Expression of Interest’ to the NHLF for improvements to the heritage parts of Broomfield Park which include proposals on the House ruins. An Expression of Interest (EOI) is the first of three stages in obtaining grant funds from the NHLF and is the gateway to knowing whether they are prepared in principle to support a project.

In the event that the Council is successful with its EOI then a Cabinet report will be forthcoming (estimated to be early 2023) for approval of outline proposals that will form the basis of a ‘Round 1’ grant application to the NHLF. In the interim there will be a programme of consultation with key stakeholders including Members and relevant local organisations such as the Broomfield House Trust and Friends of Broomfield Park amongst others.”

We are trying to find out what form this will take and in particular how the Broomfield House Trust and Friends of Broomfield Park, key stakeholders if anyone is, will be involved. Given the efforts the Trust and Friends have devoted to Broomfield House and Park over the years it is disappointing that Enfield appears to have side-lined both groups.

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The future of Broomfield House: Back on the agenda?

Allan Curtis

24 Nov 2023 11:49 #7021

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Gentlemen,

Re - Broomfield House, Broomfield Park, Palmers Green, London N13.

Several public consultations since the 1980’s to determine a viable future for Broomfield House have proven unsuccessful, from which most, or all of the suggestions offered have proved inadequate to ensure its long- term commercial viability.

It now appears that a fresh survey is being posted on behalf of Enfield Council, asking for individual public suggestions toward the same end.

As a result, it occurred to me that the current world ecological crisis offers a golden opportunity to give Broomfield House a noble new purpose. Given its rich history, and its beautiful, easily accessible, yet protected location, the entire site, after restoration, is ideally placed to be considered as a much needed Nature Conservation Centre, whilst maintaining its historic appearance and focal position in the park.

Its creation would essentially demand the relatively economical reconstruction of the outer shell of the building only, in order to preserve its visual image and historic ambience, whilst leaving its designers ‘carte blanche’ to create a fully equipped, purpose-dedicated interior, offering a public interpretive visitors’ information centre, designed to educate people about nature and the environment, with appropriate pro-active exhibitions, demonstrations, films, a possible library, research and public participation / observation facilities, and including an appropriate restaurant / refreshment area with sanitary facilities etc.

Once complete, such a project, in conjunction with the activities of the long-established Broomfield Conservatory, would generate great interest and objective work, and attract many public and professional visitors to the park, whilst serving the growing need for ecological management and regeneration.

The scope of a venture of this nature is enormous, and would, I believe, attract financial support from a considerable number of sympathetic sources, and if realised, would, in the not too distant future, elevate Palmers Green amongst the developing leaders in the ecological regeneration field, and bring much needed revenue for the district’s own regeneration.

May I therefore ask that you commend the above to the survey’s organisers, for their due consideration.

Sincerely,

Allan Curtis.

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