Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.


The Guardian: "The 'Paddington Shard' row shines a light on London's mayoral choice"

"The latest outbreak of hostilities over tall buildings in the capital underlines how crucial to the city’s future the next mayor’s planning policies will be"

Link to web site

"Four days before Christmas, Boris Johnson’s right hand man Sir Edward Lister wrote this for City AM:
"Not for the first time, tall buildings in the capital are attracting media debate and some criticism. But tall buildings in the right places can be part of the solution. Crucially, if we are genuinely serious about preserving our green belt at the same time as managing London’s population explosion, we will need to continue to build upwards.

"Tall buildings can create real value and provide the density so badly needed in a rapidly-growing city. They are not just suitable as bases for the thousands of new companies requiring office space in the capital each year, but as homes for Londoners too."
"The day after that, the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins wrote this for the Evening Standard:
"A plot is afoot to race ahead with a 'second Shard' in Paddington over the New Year. If built, it would be 72 storeys - one floor shorter than its sister tower - overlooking west London between Bayswater and Maida Vale. The developers could be hoping to avoid adverse publicity over the holiday so as to get planning permission at the beginning of March. At that point major planning decisions are suspended in advance of the mayoral elections.

They have the support of the mayor, Boris Johnson, and his tower-hungry deputy, Sir Edward Lister. They cannot trust either of the new mayoral candidates, Zac Goldsmith or Sadiq Khan, to be sympathetic."
"Fight! Fight! Fight! A joust between two of the built environment’s most august knights! A Jedi-esque dust-up over the city’s very soul! Who should we be rooting for, and why?"


Rail Engineer; "Remodelling Cricklewood"

Link to the Fat Controller

"Next time you travel down to London on the Midland main line, look out of the left-hand window as you enter the capital. Depending on the time of day, you will see either a load of trains parked up, waiting for the next peak period, or an expanse of empty sidings.

"This is Cricklewood. A large part of the East Midlands Trains fleet seems to be parked here during the day, and that role is due to be expanded as the new Thameslink fleet comes into operation."

(via Barnet Bugle) London Borough of Barnet's 2008 video of Colindale railway bridge ("On budget" - actually the budget was overspent by £11 million) and equally vacuous remarks about Brent Cross Cricklewood

Barnet Council's 'Three Strands' video March 2008 from Vimeostorage on Vimeo.

[Reposted from 2009] Holding up the vote in north London

More on the Transport page.

[Reposted] Out-of-Town Brent Cross Shopping Centre: From congestion hell to, er, 'living bridge' and congestion hell?

(Click to enlarge images)
(multi-storey car parks along all four sides;
plan finally rejected at appeal in 2002)

(rest of 'town centre' plan abandoned indefinitely;
now just 'shops and leisure')

2014: There's been another redesign.

Link to:


Unlike with Barnet's corrupt 2009 planning consent: "Enfield: Are roads for cars or kids? My part in the fight to make people-friendly streets"

"A Play Streets scheme that closes roads to cars opened Clare Rogers' eyes to the idea of roads for recreation. Now she's part of a grassroots campaign to revolutionise cycling in Enfield – but the battle isn't over"

Link to The Guardian

"My sister Sally started it when she sent me a video about Playing Out – the seminal Bristol project which closes residential roads to traffic so children can play freely – adding: 'Shame you couldn’t do this on your street.' Nothing goads like a sibling, and two years later our Palmers Green rat-run was an official London Play Street.

"Each month traffic is blocked off for three hours and the children play out with bikes, scooters, balls and chalk. Our girls, aged five and eight when it started, love it. It was a revelation seeing the tarmac used for something other than cars, and we got to know our neighbours in a way that was not possible when we only used the street to park on.

"The other revelation was the attitude of those neighbours who hated the idea. They organised a petition against the play street, and quotes from the time include: 'Roads are for cars, not kids', 'We’ll be a magnet for paedophiles' and 'Who’s going to pay when my car gets scratched?' Now these same neighbours have either approved the renewed play street order, or take part as stewards. I guess they just needed to see it up and running.


The Pods of Heathrow Airport

HAMMERGATE: Hammerson Shopping Centre Expansion in Car-choked London Traffic Congestion Scandal. (Sigh.)

Link to 'Inside Croydon'

"As the man who notoriously wants to speed 'the Surrey wallet-share' towards his mates' property scheme at Hammerson/Westfield, London Assembly Member Steve O'Connell probably doesn’t care much for the loss of parkland, homes and businesses in the TfL road schemes. O'Connell will be standing for re-election to City Hall next May.

"Croydon Council’s response to the original TfL consultation, which offered 'a pig in a poke' of no real choice at all, and certainly no public transport improvements to reduce private car use, came in for comment from the public at last week's council meeting.

"It was there that Labour's cabinet member for transport, Councillor Kathy Bee let slip that TfL was now looking at further road-building plans at Fiveways. 'Considerably more work has been conducted around Fiveways itself,' Bee told the meeting."


Thurs 17 Dec: Clitterhouse Farm event

Link to web site


Thurs 17th Dec 6.30-8.30pm
Ron Thomas Hall, 167A Cheviot Gardens, Cricklewood, NW2 1PY (MAP)

"Join us for a Festive Season gathering. We would like to share our news and plans for 2016 and also to hear your news and views about our area.

"We will be launching an exciting new project which we will be working on for the next 6 months through the Community Organisers Mobilisation Grant. Our aim is to explore with you how our local communities can make the best use of Community Rights and Neighbourhood Planning to address issues we care about and help shape the future of our area.

"Please bring your favourite festive dish to share if you can. Some hot soup, drinks and snacks will be provided.

"We would be most grateful if could let us to know if you will be attending so we can plan ahead for catering. Please RSVP via the Eventbrite link below. Everyone is welcome and his is a free event."

Eventbrite - Festive Celebrations & Conversations

"We hope to see lots of you before Christmas and to celebrate with everyone who has helped make 2015 such a success. Spread the word and bring your friends and neighbours, we're always looking to meet new people who live, work or volunteer in the area and would like to get involved."

[Reposted from Nov. 2010] Barnet Times: "Residents on the Whitefield Estate anxious over the future of their homes after Brent Cross Cricklewood approval"


Brent Cross Whitefields Estate: Hammerson's Path of Unnecessary (but profitable) Destruction

ThisIsMoney: "Thousands of new family homes could be built on green belt land in the biggest shake up of planning rules for three decades" (Daily Mail, so it's a long headline)

Link to web site

"A number of towns and cities in Britain could be set for rapid expansion in the coming years as the Government launches a consultation on relaxing green belt building.

"The Department for Communities and Local Government is considering whether local communities should be able to allocate sites for small starter home developments in their green belt.

"In what would be the biggest shake-up to planning protections for more than three decades, the ribbon of green belt land around towns and cities which prevents urban sprawl - bar in exceptional circumstances - could be built on more freely.

"The consultation comes as Chancellor George Osborne outlined plans for 400,000 new homes before 2020 in his Autumn Statement last month."


The Observer: "Is the only way up for London's skyline?"

"The Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie… and there are more towers to come. So how do we judge what's blight and what's beautiful?"

Link to web site

"Tall buildings in London, say various forms of official policy on the matter, should be well-designed and in the right place. Well I never. Who could possibly disagree with that? Hands up all those who want badly designed skyscrapers in the wrong places.

"Yet, if you survey the hundreds of plans for towers at various stages of planning and construction in London, it's hard to find those elusive beings that have both or even either quality, projects that are unequivocally Well-designed And In The Right Place – let’s call them WDAITRPs.

"The Walkie Talkie? No on both counts. The St George tower in Vauxhall, and the Strata in Elephant and Castle? Ditto. The Shard? Arguably one but not the other."

The Guardian: "How do you create a city for all? The answer lies in West Norwood ..."

"Can local community cooperation be scaled up to create a participatory city? Neighbourhood-led pilot project the Open Works thinks so"

Link to web site

"In February 2014, a pilot project was launched in West Norwood, south London, mobilising 1,000 people to reconfigure their neighbourhood for everyday benefit. In partnership with Lambeth Council, the Open Works united residents of the neighbourhood to create 20 new, community-led initiatives – from orchards and gardens to a youth ideas incubator; from craft groups to communal kitchens.

" 'The idea was to test whether high-density, mass community participation can be scaled up to create a participatory city. And we believe it can,' says Laura Billings and Tessy Britton, co-founders of the Open Works. 'Community participation should be the starting point in any community development, not an afterthought.'

A follow-up report found that the small amount of seed-funding from Lambeth Council had indeed been successful in achieving 'bottom-up' change, building valuable social capital between those usually outside of each other's networks. But amid a backdrop massive cuts to council funding across the country – Lambeth has lost over 56% of its budget since 2010 – the project’s funding ended earlier this year."


"New funding for Community Organisers announced"


"The Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson MP, has announced the launch of a new £500,000 fund to support Community Organisers to mobilise residents to take action on the issues they care about.

"Twenty seven community organisers across England will benefit from the Community Organisers Mobilisation Fund which is jointly backed by the Cabinet Office and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

"All of the communities benefiting from the Fund will be supported to use the powers available to them under the Localism Act 2011. Community Organisers will actively support these communities to make the most of community rights, neighbourhood planning and other neighbourhood approaches to create positive change in their local area. The fund will enable communities to shape the future of the places they live and work in – from using the Community Right to Build with residents of Heaton in Newcastle to setting up community owned pubs in Brighton.

"Different types of communities from across the country will benefit, including:

  • in Bognor Regis, Val Souchet will be supporting community groups to use the Community Right to Bid alongside other neighbourhood approaches to put the community at the heart of decision making. The focus will be on harnessing economic boosts like local tourism and development to benefit residents
  • in rural Cornwall, Patrick Murphy aims to support residents to deliver community-led youth services and will look to transfer a Nancherrow Youth Centre in West Cornwall into community ownership
  • in Birmingham, Kaneez Hasna will be working in the community of Bordesley Green. She will support the residents to understand how the Community Right to Challenge can help improve services and assets in their local area , including their local heritage park."

"Get involved in your community – for ideas, resources, case studies and tools see: My Community and link up with others taking action in their neighbourhood by joining the My Community Network."

"Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society said:
"I am delighted that residents across England will benefit from the support of a Community Organiser to help them shape their neighbourhoods. More resilient, capable communities are a cornerstone of my vision for a bigger and stronger society. I look forward to seeing positive changes in these communities."
"Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government said:
"This is an exciting opportunity for residents to take greater control of their local assets and planning for the future. It supports our commitment to creating stronger and more resilient communities. It will encourage these neighbourhoods to consider how they can influence local decision making, improve local services and help them shape the place where they live. I look forward to hearing about the positive impact on local neighbourhoods as the projects progress."
"The Company of Community Organisers Ltd is managing the initiative on behalf of the Cabinet Office and DCLG."

"Read about other ways that we’re supporting social action."


Sky: "Many New-Build Homes Like 'Rabbit Hutches'" (led by Hammerson's despotic General Woundwort)

"The Royal Institute of British Architects says space standards that are currently optional should apply across the board"

Link to Sky web site

"Many new family homes being built in England are like rabbit hutches because they are too small to live in comfortably, a report has warned.

"It found that on average a new three-bedroom home sold outside London is four square metres short of what buyers need – equivalent to the size of a family bathroom.

"The study by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) compared the sizes of new three-bedroom homes on more than 100 developments across England against new, optional space standards introduced in October."


Create Streets; "High-Rise Buildings: Energy and Density"

"High-Rise Buildings: Energy and Density Professor Philip Steadman of UCL sets out some of the existing evidence on density and energy usage for high-rise buildings"

Link to PDF file

"As is well known, large numbers of high-rise buildings are under construction or planned for London. A survey last year by New London Architecture showed that 236 buildings of more than 20 storeys are planned, of which 80% are residential.

Today there are extra concerns about high-rise buildings, to do with their sustainability and use of energy. In this context a new research project at University College London’s Energy Institute will try to answer two questions:
1. Are high-rise buildings more energy-intensive – all other things being equal – than equivalent low-rise buildings?

2. Is it possible to provide the same total floor area on the same sites as high-rise buildings, but on a much-reduced number of storeys?"


LeighDay: "Cressingham Gardens’ tenant wins High Court legal battle against Lambeth Council"

Link to web site

"The High Court has found Lambeth Council acted unlawfully when it removed options from a public consultation over plans to redevelop the Cressingham Gardens estate in Lambeth, South London.

"Lambeth Council began a consultation process with tenants of the Estate in November 2014, by setting up sub-groups to consider resident management options; wellbeing; green retrofitting; financial modelling; and test of opinion and a series of workshops to obtain the residents’ views on the future of the estate.

It proposed five options to be consulted on: Options 1 to 3 concerned refurbishment and options 4 and 5 were part and full demolition.

However, in March 2015, before the sub-group's reports had been fed back to the Council, options 1 to 3, the refurbishment options, had been removed by the Council."


Just Space: "Vision for the next London Plan"

Link to web site

"The Just Space network of community groups and London-wide organisations works to influence London’s strategic planning document, The London Plan, and today issues a set of 'key demands' which will form the basis of more detailed Community Visions for the next London Plan

"... Just Space Co-ordinator, Richard Lee said:
"While the Mayor's staff are preparing their new version of London's strategic planning document that will affect the lives of all Londoners, Just Space groups have seized the initiative and are putting forward ideas of what local people want to see included.

For too long, London’s planning system has failed to deliver for Londoners on issues such as air pollution and inequalities, has not developed a rounded economy, and has failed to tackle the affordable housing crisis. Local people are demanding a better future for London and all Londoners."


Hammerson's "£1bn Westfield scheme is running late with a 2020 vision"

Link to Inside Croydon

"The £1 billion shopping supermall, which multi-national developers and Croydon’s biggest land-owners have been promising to deliver on the site of the run-down Whitgift Centre, won’t now be open for business for more than five years.

"The delay in development was announced this week by a senior council official, and has been confirmed by a spokesman for the developers.

"... One of the reasons for the slowing of pace towards the development is the complicated and complex CPO. The Croydon CPO – Compulsory Purchase Order – will see our local authority buy up a 7-hectare town centre site, mainly the Whitgift Centre, to enable the developers to implement their scheme of retail, offices and 'luxury' apartments.

"The Westfield/Hammerson plans for the development include 136,500 sq m of retail space, 16,400 sq m of leisure facilities and 1,900 sq m of offices."


Coming to the eastern side of Barnet: Crossrail 2

Transport for London has just announced
new public consultation over Crossrail 2.

This is the Euston-St Pancras station, with two entrances:


Railway Gazette: "Thameslink Class 700 testing to begin soon [to Cricklewood, corrupt Brent Cross, Hendon and Mill Hill Broadway]"

Link to web site

"Siemens has now produced more than 380 of the 1 140 bodyshells for the Thameslink Class 700 Desiro City electric multiple-unit fleet at its Krefeld plant in Germany, with two eight-car Class 700/0 and 10 12-car Class 700/1 EMUs now completed.

"Two 12-car units have been delivered to the UK and are undergoing testing at the new depot in Three Bridges, which was officially opened on October 15.

"Siemens engineers are hoping to be able to undertake the first mainline test runs by the end of October, although the delivery programme does not actually require this until Christmas."


BRENT CROSS: Astonishing Pro-Cycling Turnabout by LB of Barnet and the Cuddly, Misunderstood People at Hammerson

"Here we present our final - and most informative - Streetfilm from Amsterdam. It provides a nice cross-section of commentary on life in the City of Bikes. If you'd like to skip directly to a certain section, use this table of contents:
0:17: Rejecting the Automobile
2:15: A bike system that works for everyone
4:05: There's a science to what looks like 'bicycle chaos'
5:55: Coming to The Netherlands from the United States
7:33: Dutch Bicycle Culture.
"Make sure you check out our other Streetfilms from Amsterdam: No Amsterdam is Not 'Swamped' By Bikes, Amsterdam Draws Bike Boxes to Organize Bike Parking, and Some Things You Might See While In Amsterdam.

"I still find it amazing that a five-year-old in Amsterdam can ride straighter and with more confidence than the average American adult!"


The Guardian: "Bike lane blues in Enfield: why don’t businesses want a £30m cycle-friendly upgrade?"

"A London borough plans to turn four traffic-filled roads into Dutch-style streets which are safer for bikes and pedestrians. Many shops and residents are up in arms, despite growing evidence the project will benefit the local economy. Why?"

Link to web site

"As cars stream past on both sides, a pedestrian perches on a tiny traffic island waiting for an opportunity to cross. A cyclist dodges round a 10-tonne lorry, held up by a driver trying to reverse into a tight parking space outside a high-street shop. Angry horns blare.

"It's intimidating to be on foot or a bike in a space dominated by motor vehicles. In that sense, this suburban street in north London is like many of the radial roads that flow in and out of cities the world over – not a particularly pleasant place to be.

"This road, though, has been given an opportunity to change. Transport for London has awarded the local authority, Enfield, £30 million from its 'Mini Holland' budget to transform four busy streets into routes with Dutch-inspired segregated bike lanes, where people feel safe to cycle and want to spend more time. Under the plans, Green Lanes is to get lightly segregated bike lanes running along both sides of the road; there will be six more zebra crossings for pedestrians; a bleak under-used public space will be remodelled with community involvement; pavements will be resurfaced; there will be more trees, more planters … Local residents and high street businesses must be thrilled?"

Independent Transport Commission: "On the Move: Exploring attitudes to road and rail travel in Britain"

"... On the issue of modal choice, the findings are striking in demonstrating that economic factors still remain a strong determinant of travel choice, with younger people especially concerned about the high cost of using a car relative to their income, including issues such as insurance, parking and learning to drive. The impact of concessionary and advance fares on public transport use is also an important driver, especially for younger people and pensioners. At the same time, location appears to be a key determinant for modal choice, due to the poor provision of public transport in rural areas. This is particularly the case with older people in rural areas who feel that they need to retain a car in order to preserve their independence.

"Modal choice also varies significantly across the different groups. The research demonstrates that young people are ‘falling out of love’ with the car, and place greater weight on alternative consumer products, while older people see the car as an important part of their lifestyle. At the same time, improvements in the accessibility of the public transport system are encouraging car owners to make more varied modal choices.

"... At the core of this research has been the desire to understand whether these attitudes are temporary or permanent features affecting travel behaviour. By comparing different age groups, it has been possible to see that there remain ‘tipping points’ in peoples’ lives at which point modal choice shifts. Such tipping points include starting a family, now more common in one’s 30s, at which point car ownership becomes more desirable; and also retirement, which often results in downsizing from a two to one car household.

"In spite of these factors, it is evident that across all groups we are seeing a rise in utilitarian attitudes towards car travel, which indicates that car ownership is likely to increasingly shift towards new forms of car access, such as car hire and car clubs. An equally significant factor pointing towards more permanent changes in attitudes is the way in which use of public transport modes when young increases the likelihood of continuing to use these later in life."


Sat 3 Oct: The Clitterhouse Farm Project: FILMS AT THE FARM

Link to web site

"THE CLITTERHOUSE FARM PROJECT are holding our second night of FREE cinema outside the front of Clitterhouse Farm in Clitterhouse Playing Fields, Cricklewood, NW2 on the 3rd October 2015.

"Many thanks to everyone who came to our first night on the 26th September for the screening of the Blues Brothers. It was a wonderful event and we hope you all enjoyed it."


Saturday 3rd October - 7pm

Grow Your Own (2007)

Navin Shah AM: "Outer London: Understanding ‘The Doughnut’"

"Boris Johnson's refusal to face up to the housing crisis has allowed it to spill into the outer boroughs"

Link to web site

"It is now received wisdom that Outer London won Boris Johnson the mayoralty in 2008, and also comfortably delivered his second term.

"As a result, the issues facing Outer London are on the agenda in a way they were not previously with policies to win over the Outer London 'doughnut' sure to form a growing battleground.

"Yet despite his pledge to be a mayor for all zones, many of the changes promised to Outer London remain undelivered. There is no doubt that Outer London has been let down by Boris Johnson, who quickly fell into a 'central London first' focus.

"... The proposed Opportunity and Intensification Areas designed in Outer London to accommodate future economic growth are also doomed to fail if there is no strategic plan. The next mayor will need to have vision and focus to make regeneration projects like Brent Cross and Old Oak Common successful and relevant to Outer London Boroughs."


Barnet Times: "Cricklewood Festival highlights 'threat' to green space"

Link to web site

"MUSIC and dancing entertained the crowds at the annual Cricklewood Festival.

"Thousands of people turned out to enjoy all that the town has to offer last Sunday (September 20), which included a wide range of food stalls and musical performances from nearby schools.

"Campaigners also spent the day collecting signatures opposing development on the Cricklewood green space.

"Barnet council recently shelved plans to sell off the space for housing, after a furious backlash from residents and councillors."

Brent & Kilburn Times: "Developers unveil plans for multi-million pound business district in Wembley Park" (relying much more on public transport than Barnet's corrupt Brent Cross planning consent)

Link to web site

"Developers leading the multi-million pound transformation of land around Wembley stadium have unveiled plans for a series of high-rise office blocks aimed at drawing City workers and tech start-ups to the area.

"At a glitzy reception at the Hilton Sky Bar in Lakeside Way, developer Quintain revealed it is releasing 750,000 square feet of land to make way for four eight to nine storey blocks of dedicated office space.

"... Sarah O’Connell, Director of National Offices at Colliers International said:
"Wembley really does have everything in place to be the next King's Cross.

With everything already here, employees would have access to three stations, 76 shops and 20 restaurants, as well as a 9-screen cinema and the world famous sports stadium."


The Guardian: "London residents to bid for Mount Pleasant site to stop £1-billion development" (but then, they didn't suffer the corrupt Brent Cross planning consent, did they?)

Link to web site

"Local residents who were branded 'bourgeois nimbys' by London mayor Boris Johnson for opposing a £1-billion luxury apartment complex are set to try to seize control of the development and build their own community-approved housing.

A group of people living near the Royal Mail's Mount Pleasant sorting office have secured the backing of one of Britain’s biggest investors, Legal and General, and a major housing association to launch a joint bid for the land.

"The group is angry at the lack of affordable housing and 'fortress-like' design of the current proposal and is poised to battle against some of the world’s biggest property developers for control of the prime site, which is expected to fetch around £300m.

"... 'Too many schemes in recent years have focused on purely short-term profit,' said Nicholas Boys Smith, director of Create Streets, a social enterprise that has helped broker the bid. 'This is meant to redress that imbalance and better embed what people like and want in the built environment'."


BBC: "Why is the UK's housing benefit bill so high?"

Link to web site

"The UK currently spends billions of pounds a year on housing benefit. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, explains the history of the payments and how government funding for house-building has gradually moved into subsidies for rents, especially to private landlords.
What is housing benefit?
"It's a means-tested benefit paid to people on low incomes. For tenants in council or housing association properties it will usually cover their whole rent if they have no other income. For many of those in the private sector it will not pay the whole rent even if they have no other income. Housing benefit is withdrawn as income rises, but an increasing number of people in work claim at least some housing benefit.
Why do we have it?
"We don't have benefits explicitly to pay for any other item of spending - a clothes benefit, or a food benefit for example. But the level of rents is so variable around the country and between households that a special benefit to help pay rents has been in place since at least the 1930s. A form of housing benefit was part of Beveridge's prescription in his famous report. He referred to 'the problem of rent'."


Barnet Times: "Parking charges to be introduced at Brent Cross Shopping Centre under redevelopment plans" (which were passed last night, but not without three contributors accusing Barnet of corruption)

Link to web site
[The shopping centre planning application
itself will not be submitted until 2016]

"SHOPPERS could start having to shell out money to pay to park at a shopping centre for the first time in nearly 40 years.

"Brent Cross Shopping Centre, in Prince Charles Drive, Hendon, has always proudly advertised the fact that it offers free parking for all customers.

"But under new plans, it will cost people £1 for up to two hours, £2 for three to four hours, £2.50 for four hours and £3.50 for five hours."


The Guardian: "Metroland, 100 years on: what's become of England’s original vision of suburbia?"

"In 1915, the Metropolitan Railway coined the term Metroland to describe a band of countryside just north-west of London, marketed as a land of idyllic cottages and wild flowers. But amid claims of overcrowding and a sea of ubiquitous semis, how does Metroland’s 21st-century reality compare with the original dream?"

Link to web site

"Planners, architects and builders are not the only ones who create cities. The suburban landscape of north-west London owes its existence, largely, to the imagination of the Metropolitan Railway's marketing department.

"One hundred years ago, in the summer of 1915, the railway’s publicity people devised the term 'Metroland' to describe the catchment area of villages stretching from Neasden into the Chiltern Hills. The railway had bought up huge tracts of farmland along this corridor in the decades before the first world war, and it was ripe for development. All they needed was a sales pitch.

"The first Metroland booklets were filled with illustrations of idyllic cottages and dainty verses about 'a land where the wild flowers grow'. A semi-rural arcadia was offered to Londoners sick of crowded conditions in the city. The campaign proved a roaring success. After the war, the white-collar workers who sought space and greenery flocked to the north-west of the city."