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Million pound home owners push out Barnsbury family business for bigger gardens

PUBLISHED: 11:26 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:27 30 January 2014

Brian Southwood (right) with co-worker Ronnie

Brian Southwood (right) with co-worker Ronnie

Archant

A family car repair shop in Barnsbury is set to be knocked down so that residents in million pound homes can extend their gardens.

Great grandfather Brian Southwood, 75, has worked in Brooksby Mews since he was 14 and his brother Alfie owned all the workshops in the cobbled ally.

Islington Council was planning to put the land up for auction in May 2011, but backed out when it faced opposition from residents in Brooksby Street and Bewdley Street, whose homes back on to the mews.

Loyal customers

Now the town hall has exchanged contracts with a company formed by residents, transferring the land to them.

Mr Southwood, who lives in Gospel Oak, said: “The council was asking for £300,000 six months ago, so I went down and offered it but they wouldn’t give me a straight answer.

“If it’s being sold we should get first option as leaseholders. We’ve got lots of loyal customers and have built a reputation over the years – some of them have been coming to us for more than 30 years.

“We’ve had three years not knowing what was going on and now this company pops up.”

Brooksby Mews Management Company Ltd was founded in October and lists among its directors eight living in houses that back on to the mews and one who is said to live in the Cayman Islands.

The council agreed the transfer of the land last week.

The council had planned to turn the land in to affordable housing but planning restrictions made this unfeasible.

The money from the sale will be used for new council housing, school buildings, and energy saving investments.

A town hall spokesman said: “Last week the council exchanged contracts with a local residents’ group whose properties back on to these lock-up garages for the purpose of extending their gardens.

“We have been in touch with Mr Southwood since early 2013 during which time he was given an equal chance to purchase these garages.

“We advised him that extending the workshop/repairs business in this location was unlikely to be possible under our planning policy and we identified alternative sites nearby.”

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