Monday, 09 April 2018 13:07

Demolition eats away at local landmark

Written by Nick jones
Demolition in progress at Mill Hill Demolition in progress at Mill Hill John Sawkins
Buildings around the iconic headquarters of the former National Institute for Medical Research on the Ridgeway, at Mill Hill, are being demolished to make way for a new 460-home development by Barratt London.

The main nine-storey building with its massive pitched roof – which can be seen for miles around – is to be rebuilt in a way Barratt say will retain the “best of its unique features while, maximising its potential for high quality, sustainable homes.”

In online promotional material for the redevelopment – to be known as Ridgeway Views – an artist’s impression shows the original main structure converted into apartments.

Proposed development known as Ridgeway ViewsThe image shows the main building, with the pitched roof remaining and a refurbished exterior, sitting in the middle of a new parkland setting with other blocks of apartments in the grounds.

Barratt London gave a breakdown of the 460 homes: 448 will be apartments and 12 houses. These will range from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom homes.

First completions are anticipated for summer 2019 and the full development is due to be completed by the end of 2021.

Further information about Ridgeway Views – which the developers say will provide “endless opportunities for weekend activities” in the surrounding parkland and open fields – will be released in the summer of 2018.

The former NIMR complex, with four wings leading off the main structure, was built in the shape of a cruciform, and is a local landmark that can be seen for miles around. On a clear day, there is a good view from the top of Barnet parish church.

The Medical Research Council established premises at Mill Hill in the 1920s and the cruciform building, designed by Maxwell Ayrton , was not completed until 1949.

NIMR sold the site for redevelopment on moving to new premises in central London, and in 2015 Barratt London ran a competition to develop the site. Julian de Metz, the winning architect, grew up in Mill Hill.

The site is within the green belt and is partly within the Mill Hill conservation area. Barratt London say their plans will “protect and enhance” the local environment.

Photographs of demolition in progress by John Sawkins


  • Comment Link Sunday, 10 June 2018 07:30 posted by Susan simmons

    The roof and left hand side of the building is nearly gone. That artist impression looks as if the main building is being left this clearly is not the case

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 12 June 2018 08:55 posted by Ancly

    Yep, I went to Finchley nurseries yesterday and there was only a very small part still standing. I thought redeveloping meant repurposing the current 'iconic' (as it keeps being described as) building rather than. Demolishing the lot and building something with a vague nod to the previous building.

    Personally I am not behind the Mayor of London's push to build houses and flats everywhere in and around and redevelop commercial properties into even more flats. We don't 'need more housing'... The government wants the extra revenues created by the building, the stamp duty, the council tax etc. Have you been on a tube train or driven locally in rush hour recently, there is no capacity for all these extra people.

  • Comment Link Friday, 13 July 2018 15:23 posted by Devraj Ray

    While I believe very strongly that we need more affordable housing across the UK, the disruption being caused to my family and our neighbours by this development is outrageous. We live quite literally across the road from this wonderful building (my mother also worked there) and have done so for 30 years.

    No sooner had the bulldozers set up that our entire houses were covered in a thick, yellow dust that has left a good number of us really unwell. Two young children are having breathing difficulties, my mother as well. A few of us having not stopped coughing in 6 weeks and despite the best efforts of the builders' hose-down exercise, we are all fearful that we are breathing in and living in the middle of something we should not be.

    This needs to be addressed.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 13 July 2019 22:47 posted by Michael Webb

    I deplore the loss of this historic landmark. It surely would have been possible to find a use for the building without ruining the immediate environment. The development will increase population pressure on local services and the surrounding parkland.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 02 May 2020 21:15 posted by Malcolm Turner.

    I tried desperately to obtain listing for this building, and when that was steamrolled out of the way, refused to pass the site ever again. It is typical, of the system, that overtures were made to retain much of the main block, and as soon as they get control, bulldoze it.
    I, and many others, will not be surprised.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 04 July 2021 12:01 posted by Laurence Bard

    Devraj Ray.

    If you are still around I would very much like to speak with you, I work at Pond Life in Finchley Nurseries and am very concerned by the dust and, in my opinion the failure to stop/mitigate the dust is an epic fail. One ground report alone mentions Asbestos over 600 times, the CEMP (Construction and Environmental Management Plan) designed to keep local "receptors" safe, just the 15 mention of asbestos, identified in the very fabric of the buildings and loose in the ground.

    Two more years, 10 more blocks to be built in Mill Hill's Conservation Area...and Finchley Nurseries left off the plans completely


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