Barnet Council’s Conservative group has come under fire after a developer was given the green light to build flats on historic parkland sold by the council.

Barnet Labour deputy leader Cllr Ross Houston accused the Tories of having “utter disregard” for the views of local people over the sale of the park keeper’s lodge in Victoria Park, Finchley – which will be knocked down to build six flats.

The council sold the lodge for £623,000 in 2016, and in September this year a planning committee unanimously turned down a developer’s plans to build flats at the site.

A restrictive covenant on the land drawn up in 1898 stated that it could only be used in connection with the park’s recreational purpose – as a gardener’s cottage or similar structure.

But the council’s decision to deny planning permission was overruled by the Planning Inspectorate – and when the council sought legal advice, it was told the covenant could not be enforced.

Cllr Houston said: “The sale of the Victoria Park Lodge by Barnet’s Tory councillors was a disgrace. Finchley’s local Labour councillors pleaded with the Tories not to sell this part of the park.

“We told them that once sold we would find it hard to stop development.

“Sadly, our worst fears have been realised. The land was sold cheap and the developer will now make a killing.

“The local Tories have shown utter disregard for the park, our heritage, and the views of local people.”

Opened in 1902, Victoria Park was originally intended to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

More than 450 people objected to the flats when the plans were first put forward, while 70 expressed support for the proposals.

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “Planning consent for six flats to be built on the site of the Victoria Lodge was refused by Barnet Council’s planning committee in September 2018.

“The Planning Inspectorate subsequently granted permission following an appeal by the applicant.

“In response to this, Barnet Council sought legal advice about whether it could enforce a covenant to prevent this development taking place.

“Barnet Council has been informed that it would not be able to enforce the covenant in place at the Victoria Lodge.

“Ranjit Bhose QC confirmed that Barnet Council would not be able to enforce the covenant referred to a in conveyance, related to the lodge, dated August 9, 1898.”

Barnet’s Conservative group was approached for comment.