Tuesday 1 November 2011

New Brent Cross planning application would scupper light rail

We, the Brent Cross Coalition, bitterly criticise the just-released planning application by the Brent Cross Cricklewood developers, Hammerson (Brent South) Ltd. and Kleinwort Benson (Channel Islands) Corporate Services Ltd. It intends to build on top of yet another of the possible light-rail corridors at Brent Cross, despite the threat of massive road congestion. 

We believe that the developers must rethink their 14-million-square-feet, 20-storey, incinerator-fuelled, car-choked scheme, and we believe general political support for their current plan is leaking away – yet Barnet Council is currently encouraging them to go ahead, regardless. The Channel Islands low-tax company now wants new development to jump from the stalled ‘Phase One’ Brent Cross plan to build on Phase 7 land.

Various transport solutions at Brent Cross remain possible, but we think that passenger numbers would be high enough for a new “Docklands Light Railway” here. This could then be expanded, as an east-west rail line across the whole of outer London, from west London, to Brent Cross, then via Colindale, Mill Hill East and Finchley Central, to New Southgate and Arnos Grove. It would be “off-road”, so no high streets would be dug up.

Any new Thameslink station would certainly mean closing Cricklewood and maybe Hendon stations, since they would be so close together on a very busy main line. Temporary work from the developers at Cricklewood would not change that.

In doing this, it would destroy the only feasible light-rail route into the site from Cricklewood station that avoids Phase One buildings. It could also bring into Brent Cross thousands of passengers from the planned “High-Speed-Two” and Crossrail stations in west London, via stations on the Bakerloo and Jubilee Lines in neighbouring Brent.
Dollis Hill campaigner Alison Hopkins  says:
“The Brent Cross developers surprise us. We keep pointing out that car grid-lock will not be a ‘plus point’ in their future marketing, and will not enhance the future profitablity of their development. That is why we keep suggesting a viable alternative. Perhaps we need to set up tents in the Brent Cross car park to finally get through to them.”
We, the Brent Cross Coalition, point out that Barnet Council’s web site still predicts over 29,000 extra cars every day in the Brent Cross area, if development goes ahead. Later, lower car estimates totally lack credibility.
We know that the developers are planning to physically raise the Brent Cross development "ground level" by three or four metres above the current ground level, so a light railway on the EXISTING level of land could be built around, in due course.
Lia Colacicco, Convenor of the Brent Cross Coalition says:
“Due to the arrogance of the developers, we are unable to stop them going after their quick profits, but they have never properly consulted local people. Many house-owners remain in fear of compulsory purchase of their perfectly adequate homes, many of which have gardens.
“Overall, we are opposed to the current complete, off-shore-funded Brent Cross plan.
"Development should be exciting. It should be designed with local people and the environment in mind. The developers are no better than greedy bankers. We need to work on a new master-plan for a sustainable development fit for the 21st century, not one that is twenty years out-of-date.”
We, the Coalition, accept that the new planning application is for only a small (catering) building on the Phase Seven land, but it is the thin end of the wedge, and it could be proposed elsewhere instead. 
The light-rail line is needed at the start of Phase One, certainly not as late as Phase Seven! We will continue to fight for a sustainable development that will improve the needs of the residents and local town centres, while improving the transport network over much of west and north London.
Readers can go to the web site of another Conservative Council, Hammersmith and Fulham, and search for “Old Oak Video”.
They will see an alternative, brighter future – large-scale, high-density development that is properly designed around public transport, not Barnet Council’s apology for the concept.
If the government backs the “High-Speed-Two” railway between London and Birmingham in the next few months, the proposed “DLR light railway” shown on the video at Old Oak may well be built. Will extensions of that light-rail line merely permanently stop at the borders of Barnet?

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