Million-pound home owners ousting family business for longer gardens

Westley Davis, right, and Brian Southwood are upset at the council as they are facing eviction withi

Westley Davis, right, and Brian Southwood are upset at the council as they are facing eviction within a month notice. - Credit: Archant

Mechanic set to lose 70-year-old business accuses council of selling land to residents at cut price

A great-grandfather whose family business looks set to be knocked down to extend the gardens of million-pound homes has accused the council of not getting value for money.

Brian Southwood, 76, has been fixing cars at his workshop in Brooksby Mews, Barnsbury, since he was 14.

In January the town hall told him he would have to leave after they exchanged contracts for the 16 garages with a company set up by residents in neighbouring Brooksby Street and Bewdley Street.


The deal with Brooksby Mews Management Company is yet to go through, but the council say it will be finalised by January 2015.

Mr Southwood, who lives in Palmers Green, received an eviction notice on August 5 but is still paying rent for the use of his garage.

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“I was told that the deal had fallen through,” he said. “I don’t understand what’s going on – why would you make a company and pay hundreds of thousands of pounds just to have your gardens extended? And why are the council selling the land for £300,000? It must be worth millions. You’ve got about an acre of land covered by these garages. One of the directors apparently lives in the Cayman Islands – surely they’re planning to build some flats or something – they’d be worth a fortune.”

Two three-bedroom homes in the neighbouring roads sold for more than £1.6million each in June while a one room “shoebox” house nearby is on the market for £275,000.

A single garage in Stoke Newington sold for £360,000 without planning permission last month but the council say the £300,000 valuation for the 16 garages by a chartered surveyor is accurate due to the fact that it only has consents for gardens or store space and has no emergency vehicle access.

They say it is unlikely permission could be gained to build homes.

Mr Southwood said that one of his neighbours on the mews has put in an application for squatter’s rights after being there for 25 years.

A council spokesperson said: “The garages sale is proceeding, subject to contract, and on schedule for the January 2015 deadline.

“The sale will support council priorities such as new council housing, school buildings and energy saving investments.”