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[Reposted from Apr 2015] London Review of Books: "In Brent Cross"

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"The residents of Brent Cross's Whitefield Estate – owner-occupiers as well as tenants – will all have the right to a new home in the new development, once their existing homes are demolished. The land will be used for the construction of new pedestrian bridges: Hammerson doesn't want the works near the shopping centre and Transport for London and the Highways Agency don’t want them near the North Circular.

"The Brent Cross scheme is an outstanding example of the way our planning system has almost no power to make places better for the people who live in them, but is very useful to developers with deep pockets who can afford to wait until political circumstances are in their favour, and to councils who find their populations inconvenient or unprofitable. Hammerson has wanted to expand Brent Cross since the late 1990s. A proposal to increase the shopping centre by 27,000 square metres was turned down in 2000. The current plan is 15 times bigger.

"... Cricklewood, Brent Cross and West Hendon is one of the opportunity areas identified in 2004. Barnet Council approved an outline planning application from Hammerson, Standard Life and Brookfield Europe (which dropped out soon afterwards) in November 2009 and then spent nearly a year negotiating a Section 106 agreement – which obliges developers in one way or another to make up for the drawbacks and inconvenience of a scheme – worth £998 million, the largest ever agreed in the UK. This is the money that will pay for £200 million of road works.

"The Brent Cross Coalition is a loose network of campaigners, including residents worried about traffic, cyclists and people whose homes will be lost to compulsory purchase, among others. There's little consensus about what the right kind of development would be – though no-one has asked them – but everyone seems to agree that this scheme isn't it."

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