International London-based film and TV producer and distributor Highpoint seems to have hit something of a low point in an otherwise meteoric sixteen year dramatic rise and rise, raising finance for TV dramas like the BBC's Shakespeare Retold and packaging and selling films like the Oscar-nominated Twin Sisters.
In what was certainly not a case of Much Ado About Nothing, the company looks as though it is going to have to move offices unexpectedly, because of the actions of Camden Council. The full story though, bears a strong resemblance to a Ricky Gervais script.
It seems Highpoint set up their operation back in 1990 in a smart Belsize mews address, but forgot to seek planning consent for change of use from housing to office space. The council, under the impression that 25 Elizabeth Mews NW3 was still a dwelling house, sent regular community charge demands, which were paid just as regularly by Highpoint.
Belatedly, Camden borough officials discovered the wrong charge had been levied and that Highpoint should have been paying business rates, which also raises the question of backdated charges to recoup the public money involved, which could amount to a tidy sum, which may not be too much of a problem for a company that raises millions for dramas that are not so close to home. It’s not yet clear though, how Highpoint completed the forms for the electoral register so that the office residents might be able to cast their election ballots.
The rating error having been discovered, Highpoint immediately applied for planning permission for change of use of number 25, to an office upstairs and an office and dwelling downstairs. Camden Council refused permission, effectively making Highpoint homeless – or should that be officeless?
Highpoint have asked Camden Council to delay taking enforcement action for twelve months to give them time to relocate. To a house, or an office, one wonders….?