London flat transformed into cannabis factory auctioned off in just eight days after 'unprecedented interest'

17 March 2023, 17:16 | Updated: 17 March 2023, 17:21

The former cannabis factor is up for sale
The former cannabis factory is up for sale. Picture: Auction House

By Kit Heren

A north London flat that had been turned into a cannabis factory and was listed for auction with paraphernalia and growing equipment still in place has sold after just eight working days.

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Auction House London said the property on Ballards Lane in Finchley, which had ventilation pipes and wiring still dangling from the ceiling, gained an unprecedented level of attention.

"Never had we had so much press coverage and interest online," auctioneer Andrew Binstock said at the sale.

The property had been due to be sold off on March 15 at an auction, but was snapped up for an undisclosed price just eight days after the listing because of the scale of interest in the property. The buyer is a developer who plans to refurbish and put it back on the market as two apartments.

Read more: London flat fully equipped and ‘used recently to grow cannabis’ to be sold at auction for £275,000

Auction House London said: "The beauty of auctions is that whether a property sells on auction day, pre-auction or post-auction, the exchange of contracts takes place immediately, just like it does in the live auction at the fall of the hammer.  

"The deadline of the auction day alone can often create a frenzy of competitive bidding leading to successful pre-auction sales. “

A virtual tour video posted online shows plant pots on the floor and aluminium foil on the walls, used to reflect and increase the power of growing lights, boosting the cannabis yield. Fans are also strewn throughout the cluttered property.

Auctioneers said in an honest listing of the two-bedroom flat: "The property comprises a second floor two bedroom flat situated within a mixed use building arranged over ground and two upper floors.

"The property has been recently used to grow cannabis and requires a program of refurbishment."

Ballards Lane, Finchley - 15th March Auction

Mr Binstock said in a blog post that the "apartment... was found to have been converted into a sophisticated cannabis growing operation, with hundreds of plants and a range of equipment used to cultivate and process the drug."

He added that the drugs operation "was only discovered after police received a tip-off from a member of the public, highlighting the importance of community involvement in tackling drug-related crime."

Read more: Speedboat captain avoids jail after death of girl, 15, in front of her family

It is unclear when the property became a cannabis factory. Barnet Council gave the owner planning permission to convert the property into two flats in 2022, making no mention of illegal drugs activity.

A spokesperson for the police told LBC that police would have been aware of the factory and involved in shutting it down, but did not provide more details.

The flat is above a row of shops in Barnet
The flat is above a row of shops in Barnet. Picture: Auction House London
The interior is fitted with pipes and wires
The interior is fitted with pipes and wires. Picture: Auction House London
The cannabis factory in London
The cannabis factory in London. Picture: Auction House London

It is illegal to grow any part of a cannabis plant in the UK, where the drug is classified as class B. Doing so risks a maximum of 14 years in prison.

People working in cannabis factories are often the victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Read more: British drug boss who tried to import £8m of drugs into UK arrested in Thailand after five years on the run

Read more: Britain's youngest lottery winner who blew £1.8m on drugs and surgery is retraining as a nurse

After factories across London were raided in January this year, National Crime Agency senior investigating officer Neil Gardiner said: “Modern slavery is often difficult to tackle because the victims don’t always recognise they are being exploited, which is why we need the public’s help.

“I’d ask anyone who sees something they don’t feel is right to report it. It might be someone seeming afraid, vulnerable or controlled, moved around against their will. These are all signs of exploitation.”

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