St Joseph’s, Mill Hill, Barnet

Client: Berkeley Homes

The Victorian gothic seminary complex of St Joseph’s, located on a hilltop amidst parkland in north London, was set up by Cardinal Vaughan as the first Catholic missionary college in Britain. The original building included lodging ranges and communal rooms around a cloister, with a large apsidal chapel and a prominent bell tower. Four further ranges were added later in a variety of styles: gothic, neo-Georgian and Modernist.

The college decided to relocate its activities abroad, and sold the building to a developer. However it proved to be difficult to convert to a workable new use, even though listed building consent was eventually secured for conversion to residential apartments. Built Heritage Consultancy were brought in by Berkeley Homes in the lead-up to their purchase of the site, to help advise on how the existing consent could be modified to enhance the significance of the site while enabling the creation of more desirable apartments.

By working closely with the client and the architects BHP Harwood, we helped develop a new design which greatly improved the appearance and layout of the consented replacement blocks, as well as retaining more historic fabric than the previous scheme. Part of our role involved researching precedents where similar solutions to design issues were used on comparable historic buildings. We also advised on the arrangement of landscaping and ancillary buildings, including a more sympathetic parking layout which improved the setting of the listed building and aided the marketability of the apartments.

  • St Joseph's College, Barnet

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