Dear Mr Denham,
I write to you on behalf, and as Chair, of the Brent Sustainability Forum, first of all to congratulate you on some of your recent announcements - including the programme to tackle climate change through the development of new local carbon frameworks, and the “Warm Homes, Greener Homes” programme.
The Sustainability Forum is Brent’s main environmental network, made up of residents, community groups and representatives from public and private sectors that come together to promote and progress sustainability in the borough. This Forum is a partnership of over 100 different members who have been working hard to get local residents and local groups to take charge of their local environment by taking on environmental initiatives.
Brent Council, its Local Strategic Partnership and the Brent Sustainability Forum recently adopted a comprehensive, borough-wide, Climate Change Strategy (the first in London). This strategy and action plan will set the scene for the community, voluntary, public and private sectors in Brent to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. This strategy puts high expectations on all of Brent’s community to do more in relation to climate change, whilst serving as a demonstration project for other London boroughs.
In line with the Forum’s work, and in line with your recent announcements, the Brent Sustainability Forum would like to register its concern in relation to the Brent Cross Development which is being proposed, which puts at stake all of the hard work we have all been doing.
We are thus asking you to call in the above application for a public inquiry, for a number of reasons:
Firstly, the regeneration scheme does not conform to a number of national planning policy issues. For example, the Government’s Climate Change Law has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. However, this scheme will generate thousands of extra car journeys per day, which will make it effectively impossible to achieve the required reduction in CO2 emissions. In addition, residential buildings will only achieve Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, again making the target impossible to achieve.
Secondly, the adverse impacts arising from this scheme (the large increase in noise, traffic congestion and air pollution) extend far beyond the London Borough of Barnet boundary, so decisions concerning the scheme should not be left to Barnet councillors alone.
Thirdly, there is increasing confusion over what is being proposed. For example, the large waste handling facility is unspecified. Arguments abound concerning incineration and gasification; both could have adverse effects on the health and safety of residents.
Fourthly, there has been a significant lack of adequate and meaningful consultation concerning this scheme, including with Brent and Camden residents. Although Barnet Council mostly adhered to the letter of the law, they did not adhere to its spirit.
Fifthly, Barnet Council are unable to take an impartial view of the scheme due to a conflict of interest, since they are supporters of the scheme, major landowners in the area, and acting as ‘objective’ Local Planning Authority decision-makers.
Finally, the current scheme is simply a way of extending Brent Cross Shopping Centre, a proposal that was strongly opposed and thrown out by a public inquiry in 1999, and a Judicial Review and a High Court judgement in 2003. The recent reduction of other elements of Phase One - but still allowing the doubling of the shopping centre - seems to support this view. No other phases are guaranteed to be delivered by the developers.
If we are to achieve on current climate change policy and targets, not to mention the social inclusion agenda, schemes developed on these grounds must be assessed adequately. We therefore urge you to exercise your authority and call a public inquiry on this scheme.