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.

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