Contractors using children's playground at Crabtree Fields green space to park crane and store equipment.
Contractors working for Lisboeta restaurant set up an unauthorised builders’ yard and crane in the children’s playground at Crabtree Fields.

Contractors working on a new restaurant in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia drove a crane and hauled plant equipment through a children’s playground in a public park without permission, hoping they could get away with it.

On Wednesday 12 January men in hoodies and hi-viz jackets were seen setting up an unofficial builders’ yard on Whitfield Street.

Restaurant plant and ventilation system being unloaded in Whitfield Street outside Crabtree Fields public park.

They then entered Crabtree Fields green space shortly after it was opened for the day at 7.30am by a Camden park officer.

After the officer had completed their morning inspection of the park and left, the workers seized the opportunity to unload their crane, shift the plant equipment across the natural park, and into the children’s playground.

Tight squeeze. The crane was driven through the park without permission.

All this was done in front of members of the public who were using the park — and this reporter who had a camera to hand.

When asked if they had permission to use the park, they lied saying it had been “sorted” beforehand.

They then removed a timber structure from the children’s play area so that they could drive their crane across it, and up to the wall at the back of the restaurant. Galvanised steel ventilation equipment and several air conditioning units were then lifted over the wall to the restaurant at 30 Charlotte Street.

A man walks a dog through the park after the crane has been driven out.

While it is not unusual for building contractors to breach the rules on construction work — residents frequently complain about noisy work taking place outside of lawful hours — it is rare to see such blatant disregard for proper procedure when operating a crane.

After being alerted to the trespass, a parks officer attended the scene and caught the unscrupulous chancers red-handed.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “These works took place without our prior permission being given. Council officers attended in response to ensure no unsafe activities were taking place.

“We are in the process of responding to this — including speaking to involved parties as well as securing a retrospective access fee.”

Camden Council has a set of documents detailing good practice and setting out the proper procedure to minimise negative impacts from construction work.

Lisboeta restaurant at 30 Charlotte Street is due to open in the spring of 2022.

The restaurant at 30 Charlotte Street is Nuno Mendes’ Lisboeta, part of MJMK restaurants, and is due to open this spring. The lifting equipment and logistics was supplied by Rapid Response Solutions Limited.

Both parties were contacted by Fitzrovia News but they declined to comment.

Crabtree Fields was created as a green space in 1986 after a campaign by local residents to transform a former car park was successful.

The park has an active Friends group who carry out voluntary work to improve greenery, wildlife habitat, and increase biodiversity. Over the past two years they have pursued a programme of tree planting.