Thursday, 25 July 2013

Consternation as Welsh Harp development go ahead

Today's Wembley and WillesdenObserver
Jenny Jones, Green London Assembly Member, who made a submission opposing Barratt's West Hendon development, criticised the Barnet Planning Committee's approval of the West Hendon development:
This is a short-sighted decision that will damage the integrity of the Welsh Harp SSSI. We should be protecting this space for the enjoyment of future generations and for the sake of the other species that live there.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Barnet approve West Hendon Welsh Harp development against angry opposition

Outside Hendon Town Hall this evening
 Barnet Planning Committee tonight passed the planning application for the West Hendon Development on the banks of the Welsh Harp by 5 votes to 4 after a sometimes rancorous debate.

The presentation by a planning officer of his report on the development provoked protests from Andrew Dismore AM for Barnet and Camden who said that he had never heard such a biased officers' report in 30 years involvement in politics. He said the officer was acting as a advocate for the developers rather than as someone presenting a balanced view on which the Planning Committee could make a decision.

Dismore asked why there had not been a ballot of residents of the West Hendon Estate and presented his own findings (see posting below). He said the luxury tower blocks would be for Russian oligarchs rather than local people.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari (Labour -Welsh Harp)  told the chair of the Committee that she would be writing to Barnet Council to record her concerns about the officer's presentation which amounted to a 'hard sell'. The length and veracity of the presentation had not been used for any other application.

Cllr Mashari said that when she visited the developers they had not even be aware of Brent Council's objections. She spoke about growing up near the Welsh Harp and what a much loved and  valued resource it was.  The 29 storey buildings would be an imposing and inappropriate presence looming over the reservoir.

Navin Shah AM for Brent and Harrow told the committee that the Welsh Harp was an exceptional site of tremendous value. The enormous scale of the development and its density was unsustainable.  The amount of affordable housing should have been at the target of 40% rather than the 25% in the application.

Cllr Javaid Ashraf (Liberal Democrat - Dollis Hill) told the committee that he was a former chair of the Welsh Harp JCC), He had three main concerns: density, damage to the SSSI and traffic congestion. He said he was not against redevelopment. He was supportive of 'a' scheme but not 'this' scheme.

The public loudly supported this last point. The officer's presentation had implied that the scheme should be supported because it was better than a previous scheme that had been agreed by the Planning Committee and that no other scheme was viable as it would not provide enough of a return to the developer to enable the social housing to be redeveloped.

Objectors will continue their campaign at the London Mayoral level.

Decision on Welsh Harp tonight 6.30pm Hendon Town Hall

Despite objections from environmentalists, Brent Council, residents on the West Hendon Estate and hundreds of other residents, Barnet Planning Committee will be recommended by officers tonight to approve the redevelopment proposal from Barratt Homes. DETAILS

There will be a demonstration starting at 5pm outside Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4BG. Cllr Roxanne Masharini, Brent Council lead member for the environment and Navin Shah AM are among those down to speak at the meeting which begins at 6.30pm.

If members decide to grant planning permission it will be referred back to the Mayor of London before the issue of any decision as a 'strategic development'. The Mayopr will have 14 days from the date of referral to consider whether the Council can make the decision at local level, direct that the application be refused, or choose to take the application over and determine the application himself.

One of the most power submissions is by Andrew Dismore, AM for Barnet and Camden who includes a survey of West Hendon Estate residents.  These are the results;

1. Do you think the Council have given enough priority to estate residents? Yes 8.4% No 81.3%
2. Should there be more affordable homes? Yes 84.7% No 10.1%
3a.. Do you think the scheme is too dense? Yes 83% No 10.1%
3b. Do you think the blocka re too high? Yes 84.7% No 3.4%
4. Do you wish the Council scheme to be approved? Yes 18.6% No 79.6%
5. Does the plan give sufficient attention to the wider neighbourhood near the site? Yes 6.7% No 98.8%
6. Do you want to keep York Park? Yes 89.8% No 3.3%
7. Does there need to be more parking? Yes 74.5% No 20.3%
8. Has enough thought been given to leaseholder needs? Yes 8.4% No 77.9%

Respondents: Council teneants 37.2%, leaseholder 8.4%, private tenant 10.1%, owner occupier 44%

Friday, 19 July 2013

Save the Welsh Harp on July 23rd

Barnet Planning Committee will be considering the planning application for the West Hendon Estate on the Welsh Harp on Tuesday 23rd July.

Those opposed to this development which will ruin a much loved and valuable open space and nature reserve will be protesting outside Hendon Town Hall at 5pm on July 23rd. Please join us.

In order to mobilise support there will be local leafleting this coming weekend and campaigners are urged to join us.

Saturday 20th July Meet at The George, Church Lane Kingsbury at 2pm

Sunday 21st July  Meet at McDonalds,Neasden Lane North/Blackbird Hill 2pm

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Brent Planners; additional observations on West Hendon development

The following letter has been submitted to Barnet Planning by Brent Planning
Dear Mr Wyld,

West Hendon Estate, West Hendon, London,

Thank you for your letter in relation to the re-consultation on amended and additional information for the hybrid planning application at the above site. This also responds to the letter sent to us from Quod on 1O June 2013, in which they provide a response on the points raised in our observation letter to Barnet.
Please find further observations on behalf of the London Borough of Brent below:

(a)        Tall Buildings

Section 10.6 of Barnet’s Core Strategy discusses tall buildings and Barnet’s skyline. It is noted that a Tall Building Study was commissioned by Barnet Council, which identified locations for tall buildings within Barnet. One of these locations is at West Hendon (page 67 of the Core Strategy) which makes reference to tall buildings ranging from 8 to 20 storeys being appropriate in this location. This application still includes proposals for buildings up to 29 storeys in height, which is contrary to Barnet’s Core Strategy, and still raises significant concerns.

(b)        Nature Conservation

The points raised in our observation letter dated 29 April 2013 still remain. We do however note that a number of statutory consultees have been consulted including Natural England, Canal River Trust and the Environment Agency.

(c)        Transport

Bus Priority Lanes
Brent Council’s initial observations advised that Brent would not support the removal of the short sections bus lanes, as this goes against current policy for the AS.   The addendum to the Transport Assessment has not taken into account the concern around removal of the bus lanes.  In a couple of places in the document, they make the following statement:

”The results show that the removal of bus lanes, coupled with implementation of the improvement measures, along AS West Hendon Broadway will have benefit to overall journey time for either buses or cars whilst providing significant environmental benefits to residential streets and introducing significantly improved pedestrian facilities.”

If the bus lanes are not retained, then it is hard to see how the removal of bus lanes will have a benefit to overall journey time for buses.

Parking Levels

The addendum to the Transport Assessment is still recommending an overall number of spaces of 1600, which Brent Council considered as part of initial observations was rather high. Brent advised that it would be useful to understand if any of the Travel Plan measures could reduce the overall requirement for parking spaces. The addendum to the Transport Assessment does recommend that this amount of parking be reduced, but it does not say by how much. The comments raised within the initial observation letter still remain.

Brent Council Executive collectively object to West Hendon development

The Brent Council Executive has sent the following letter to the Barnet Planning Department:

Objection to proposed development of West Hendon Estate, NW9

We are writing to raise a collective objection to the proposed development of the West Hendon Estate in light of the second phase of consultation (Application No: 13/0938, filed on 2nd April 2013).

We have serious concerns that the height and density of the proposed development will have a devastating impact in the Welsh Harp’s rare ecology including the extensive areas of marshland that have earned the area the status of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Welsh Harp is the only SSSI in Barnet or Brent and we believe that the maintenance of this status must be a primary consideration when considering any planning application in the area.  

We are also concerned that the local infrastructure is not designed to cope with such a large influx of residents and the substantial volume of extra traffic could bring the very narrow and picturesque Cool Oak Lane to a daily standstill. 

Brent Council planning officers have also identified issues around local parking capacity, adaption of bus lanes and the negative impact that such a large volume of additional foot traffic across a second footbridge would have on both the wildlife and public realm maintenance.

Therefore, due to the multiple detrimental effects that the proposed development would have on both local residents and rare wildlife, we continue to strongly object to the application.

Please take our objections into careful consideration during the deliberative process as part of your final determination.