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Navin Shah Slams Approval of Welsh Harp Planning Application (part of the Cricklewood, Brent Cross and West Hendon Development Framework area)

"Barnet Council on Tuesday 23rd July ignored strong objections from local residents to refuse the Welsh Harp planning application for demolition and redevelopment of West Hendon Estate.

"The committee room was packed with residents and representatives of stakeholder organisations, objecting to the ill-conceived and harmful planning scheme which would destroy this key site of major local, London and National importance. Prior to the meeting, demonstrators gathered outside the Town Hall for a rally

"London Assembly Member Navin Shah spoke for Brent residents when he addressed the planning committee and conveyed his strong objection to the application:
"This is an exceptional and most significant site of remarkable value, enjoyed and cherished by the people of Brent, Barnet and visitors. In summary, the proposed development will see nearly four-fold increase in the current population. The proposal constitutes gross over-development and it will destroy the SSSI quality, heritage and the value this site provides.

I have made a detail written submission OBJECTING to the scheme on material planning grounds, which I’d urge the planning committee to consider carefully. I’d like to highlight briefly some of the key issues.

  • In my view, the scale of the development with 2,000 residential units together with commercial and community facilities is wholly inappropriate and unsustainable.
  • The proposals for this SSSI site lack adequate research and evidence to demonstrate that the scale and design of the development can sustain and enhance the quality of nature conservation.
  • Barnet’s Core Strategy justifies 8-20 storey blocks and London Plan justifies tall buildings in town centres and in major zones of economic development. In this context, the proposed 29, 27 and 21 high tower blocks are inappropriate. The built environment with tower blocks and the resultant bulk dominating the skyline will not be in keeping with the character of this area.
  • Residential proposals have no relevance to the preferences of Barnet’s residents and to the Council and Mayor’s policies. Woefully small provision of 20 ‘houses’ (only 1% of total) and 290 Duplex Apartments for family size units make a mockery of Barnet’s Core Strategy. As to Socially rented housing, in my view, for a scheme of this scale a minimum of 40% and not 25% provision is required.
  • I’d like to draw the attention of the committee on the flaws related to the Social Infrastructure proposals and my concerns about transport, parking and congestion expressed in my written submission. I beg the members to listen to the genuine concerns of residents and protect this site from destruction by refusing permission."
"The application would now go to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who can either wave through the scheme or direct Barnet Council to refuse it on planning rounds.

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"Speaking after the meeting Navin Shah - Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow - said:
"This shocking decision by Barnet Council will obliterate the beautiful landscape, tranquility and ecological values of a site which is supposed to be protected for its scientific interest.
On every single key issue like the density, urban design (height of blocks), housing, community facilities and transport and traffic, the application is seriously flawed and does not comply with Barnet nor London Mayor’s planning policies. 29 Storey tower block may be fine for Manhattan but spell total disaster for Welsh Harp.

Overdevelopment with four-fold increase of population and tower blocks on this site is a solution from hell – one that will vandalise this site of exceptional beauty and importance.

It is dreadful that Barnet Council has failed to listen to the local communities in Brent and Barnet and it’s equally disgraceful that the Mayor of London failed to raise concerns about this seriously flawed application during his Stage 1 examination.

The Mayor would now have a final say on this application and I will be lobbying him to reject this application. I urge residents and campaigners to press Mayor Johnson for refusal and save this significant spot of natural beauty from permanent destruction.”

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