Fears Broomfield House may never be restored

Charitable trust set up to preserve historic house in Palmers Green ‘angry’ at council over lack of action, reports James Cracknell

Broomfield House remains barely visible beneath the maze of scaffolding that has surrounded it for years
Broomfield House remains barely visible beneath the maze of scaffolding that has surrounded it for decades

Members of a charity established to save Broomfield House say they are “angry and frustrated” by a breakdown in communication with Enfield Council.

The historic Grade 2*-listed building in the centre of Broomfield Park was first damaged in 1984 when a fire tore through the roof; a subsequent fire ten years later left only a shell of the original building still intact. It has been surrounded by scaffolding ever since and is currently listed on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.

Broomfield House Trust, an independent charity set up to help preserve the building, together with owners Enfield Council, launched various bids and plans to restore the 16th Century house over the years. None have made significant progress to date.

This year the board of the charity has twice written to the council to try to establish the status of its restoration plans, but has yet to receive a direct response. The Broomfield House Partnership Board, which includes members of the trust as well as the council and other stakeholders, has not met in three years.

Writing in a letter for the October edition of Enfield Dispatch, Bill Yates said: “We have received no substantive response to date. 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.”

Although the precise condition of the building is unknown, trust members fear that years of neglect and inclement weather have taken a severe toll on the structure and that it could potentially collapse if action is not taken in the near future.

The most recent idea to fund a restoration of Broomfield House was to permit a small housing development in its stable yard, using some of the money raised to secure and enhance the external structure of the building and allowing the trust to lead further fundraising efforts to pay for a full restoration of the interior.

Previous attempts have included a submission on the BBC television show Restoration in 2003, which saw different projects compete to win funding, as well as various bids to the National Lottery. A long-term aim of the trust is to create a “heritage learning centre and community hub” within the house.

Broomfield House pictured in 1981
Broomfield House pictured in 1981 (credit Christine Matthews/Wikimedia Commons)

Broomfield House Trust chair Colin Younger wrote in his first letter this year to the council, in January, that the trust was keen to continue working on the stable yard plan. He said: “Regretfully, it appears that the council has concluded that this is not feasible.

“The trust does not believe that things should rest with this. Instead, we argue strongly that an approach on the general lines which were proposed is still the best, possibly the only, way ahead.”

While the idea of demolishing the building to make way for a potentially cheaper project has not been publicly proposed, Colin said: “It is our understanding that as things stand, Historic England is extremely unlikely to support an application by the council for listed building consent for demolition.

“We wonder what the odds would be of a Conservative minister supporting Enfield’s request for demolition. The process is likely to involve a costly public inquiry, and this together with demolition and site remediation would be money poured down the drain.”

Asked to respond to Broomfield House Trust’s recent letters to the council, a spokesperson said: “The council has appointed a specialist heritage consultant to liaise with Historic England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other stakeholders, and to advise on the next steps. We will be meeting with Broomfield House Trust shortly.”