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[Reposted] London Mayor, 2002: ‘plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose’

14 October 2002
[References within this letter have been removed, and some parts are emphasised. The added comments are to keep you from drifting off.]
Government Office for London
Copied to:
Brian Coleman, London Assembly Constituency Member (Barnet and Camden)
Bob Neill, Chair of London Assembly Planning and Spatial Development Committee
London Borough of Barnet
London borough of Brent
London Borough of Haringey
London Borough of Harrow
Nabarro Nathanson
Cricklewood Regeneration Limited
Transport for London
London Development Agency


I refer to your letter dated 30 September 2002, informing all parties connected with the 1999 public inquiry on the above planning application, and the necessity for re-determination by the Secretary of State of the April 2000 refusal of planning permission decision that had been quashed by Order of the Court on 23 October 2000. [Clear as mud.]

In your letter, you state that you had given careful consideration to an extension of time of six months for further written representations requested by the Applicant and the London Borough of Barnet, but that the Secretary of State does not consider there is sufficient justification to warrant such a request. I also note that you have decided to allow all parties a further period, until 14 October 2002, in which to make final representations or supplement any already received. [Crikey: today is that day! Right up to the line...]

You will recall that I wrote to you 21 December 2000, where I submitted strategic objections to the planning application, whilst recognising I had no statutory locus, as this was submitted before the Mayor’s statutory planning powers came into effect. [Locus?]

You will also be aware that I have issued my draft London Plan: draft spatial development strategy (June 2002) in which I promote the sustainable growth of London particularly within key strategic Opportunity Areas, of which the application site is identified as falling within one such area: the Cricklewood/Brent Cross Opportunity Area.

Furthermore, you should by now be in receipt of a copy of my letter dated 7 October 2002 to the London Borough of Barnet, commenting formally as a statutory consultee on the Barnet Unitary Development Plan first deposit Chapter: Cricklewood/ /West Hendon/ Brent Cross Regeneration Area, where I have endorsed the Council’s policies for growth and redevelopment of the area.

In addition, I welcome the approach being taken towards mixed use comprehensive redevelopment, which involves turning Brent Cross Shopping Centre into a vibrant and sustainable mixed use town centre dependant on a significant improvement in public transport to serve its catchment area, and linked to the adjoining rail lands and significant regeneration area at Cricklewood to the south of the A406 North Circular Road.

I wish to make further representations with regard to the application and Secretary of State’s redetermination of the decision at Brent Cross in respect of ... my views as the strategic planning authority for London.

In addition, I would like to bring to your attention that I objected in December 2000 to the original planning application as a single mono-use retail extension to an out of centre shopping centre, but am aware that events have moved on very significantly, and there has been increasing convergence between the respective parties, particularly the GLA, TFL and London Borough of Barnet, of taking forward the regeneration of this strategic opportunity area in a sustainable way.

I am also aware that significant progress has been made between the local and strategic planning authorities in bringing the major landowners and developers in the area closer together, to deliver a more appropriate mixed use high density regeneration scheme at Cricklewood and Brent Cross. Also, ... it may be beneficial in strategic and regeneration terms to consider the potential for an early phase of the regeneration project coming forward on the North side of the North circular Road at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, as a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the Cricklewood rail lands and adjoining areas to the south. 

I am also welcome the fact that the applicant of Brent Cross, Hammerson/Standard Life are prepared to introduce mixed uses into and around the existing shopping centre, to improve its sustainability and create a new and exciting town centre in North London. I particularly welcome the proposals by Hammerson/Standard Life to commit to delivering a Planning Framework (masterplan) and delivery framework for the whole regeneration area, and to agree to condition the implementation of the proposed retail extension and 50% of its development upon first bringing forward an equivalent total amount of sustainable mixed use development. [Not any more they ain't!]

This commitment is further enhanced by the offer of a Section 106 legal agreement that proposes to make an increased financial contribution of £42.5 million towards public transport improvements in the area, creation of a world class bridge link [good grief] across the North Circular connecting to Cricklewood regeneration lands and a £0.5 million contribution towards taking forward the Planning framework and masterplan work.

I also draw your attention to the requirement expressed in earlier comments from Transport for London (TfL) about the need, should planning permission be granted, for a condition covering a series of highways junction improvements on the A406 North Circular Road and A41 Hendon Way.

Therefore, my strategic views, taking into account the above new information, is that, whilst I continue to raise strategic planning objections to the solus retail extension [Solus? Use of Latin is rather like special hand-shakes: it is a sort of unspoken code, is it not?] in isolation of any related mixed use or comprehensive regeneration proposals, in line with my draft London Plan and the Barnet UDP Regeneration Chapter, I am prepared to review this objection upon the applicant, Hammerson/Standard Life, submitting further information in due course, sufficiently demonstrating appropriate commitments to bring forward these strategic planning objectives including the mixed use development, creation of a new town centre, increased public transport improvements offer [have you noticed this is one big sentence? It's quite a whopper!] and Section 106 financial contributions. [None of which, even by February 2012, have been quod erat demonstrandumed.]

I see no necessity for the public inquiry to be re-opened, and agree with the Secretary of State that this would not be in the interests of the objectives for a fast and efficient planning process.

In conclusion, I believe there have been a significant number of developments in a positive direction which is bringing the respective key parties closer together, with an opportunity to deliver real sustainable and beneficial regeneration at Brent Cross and Cricklewood. 

My holding objection to the current planning application may therefore be reviewed in due course, in the light of these emerging issues and firming up of commitments from the applicant.

I would be grateful if the Secretary of State would take into account my strategic comments and these further representations, together with the contents of the attached appended documents.

I look forward to a speedy re-determination of the Secretary of State’s decision to enable matters to move forward positively and swiftly. [Still waiting, still waiting...]

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

Someone else's comment: Well, ten years later, we are more or less back with the 'solus retail extension', are we not?

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