I was shocked to read the suggestion that Avenue House and Grounds may be closed and possibly handed over to a private school. I hope there is no foundation to this rumour as it would appear to be against the terms of Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens’ will. When our well-known businessman and local benefactor (and former MP) died in 1918, he left his house and estate in a magnificent gesture “to the people of Finchley”.
I believe that Barnet Council, if they take back the lease from AHET, has no right to dispose of this priceless local amenity in any way whatsoever. Clearly, when Henry Stephens made his will, he intended that “the people of Finchley” should not only own the estate but have free and unfettered access at all reasonable times. If a private school were to take over the house, this would not be possible.
I believe that Avenue House and Grounds, in the event that AHET cannot continue in its management role, should become a local community centre. To that end, Barnet Council, as I have already suggested, should close Church End Public Library and relocate it to Avenue House. Other Council functions – Citizens Advice Bureau and the like – could follow. The Council could then dispose of the library building (an ugly postwar construction of no architectural significance), redevelop and dispose of the site, and use the proceeds to take care of the maintenance and upkeep of Avenue House Estate in perpetuity. What do other readers think?
From Stewart Wild N3 3..