Sunday 5 May 2013

Brent unites against Barratt Homes' 'vandalism' of the Welsh Harp

This was first published on the Save Our Welsh Harp' blog LINK

Shahrar Ali, Muhammed Butt, Roxanne Mishari and Navin Shah
The audience
A meeting held at short notice about the regeneration of the West Hendon Estate on the banks of the Welsh Harp was well attended this afternoon.

Cllr Roxanne Mishari, Labour councillor for Welsh Harp,  introducing the meeting,  outlined the main aspects of the scheme, its height, high density, its closeness to the wildfowl reserve, lack of infrastructure and impact on Brent.

Navin Shah,Labour London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow spoke about the planning aspects and the role of the Major of London. He said he had arranged a delegation to the Barnet Planning Committee which would consider the application which breached the Council's own planning guidelines. He described the plans as 'no more than vandalism of a critical site. Only 20 of the 2,000 homes would be 3 or 4 bedrooms when the need was for family housing. Only 25% would be social housing.

Shahrar Ali of Brent Green Party and a local resident showed a video taken this morning at Barratt's marketing office for the 'Hendon Waterside' development. The sales team clearly expected the development to go ahead and described it as a partnership with Barnet Council. The remaining 8th floor two bedroom property in the recently completed 12 storey development was offered at £340,000 plus £1,700 service charge and an agreement with the water and energy supplier of Barratt's choice. It was clear that the private flats were on the waterfront and the social housing behind close to the A5.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Labour leader of Brent Council, said that he was 100% behind the campaign which he described as 'over-excessive'. He read out the main objections submitted by the Brent Council planners and said these would be made available on this site. The proposed 2 form entry primary school would not be big enough and Barnet Council was riding rough-shod over its own planning policies which stated that buildings should be no more than between 8 and 20 storeys high.. School provision, wildlife and transport would all be affected with repercussions for Brent residents.

Cllr Alison Hopkins and her fellow Lib Dem councillor Javaid Ashraf sent the message which Martin Francis conveyed to the meeting, which appears on the Welsh Harp blog in full.  LINK They  particularly drew attention to the social housing tenants being placed alongside the traffic pollution of the A5. They had opposed the development in their roles on the Welsh Harp Joint Consultative Committee which includes Barnet representatives. Attempts to arrange a site visit had not been successful.

There were many contributions from the floor and among the issues raised were:

1, Why does Barnet keep developing on the borders with Brent which affects our own infrastructure (while they collect the Council Tax from the developments)
2. A youth officer from the West Hendon Estate said they had collected 500residents'  signatures on a petition against the development and the loss of their green space andwere going to protest at the planning meeting.
3. Barnet Council should declare their relationship with Barratt Homes.
4. We should see if Euoropean legislation can be used to oppose the development.
5. We should examine the public health repercussions for people, and particularly children, in the area.
6. The high-cost luxury flats gained a beautiful view across the Welsh Harp to the opposite bank but people on that bank would see a hideous new high-rise development.
7. The West Hendon Estate had been run down for years but the tenants would be unlikely to be able to afford the rents in the new development.
8. We should get someone like Bill Oddie to champion our cause for the bird life, the waterfowl refuge and the SSSI.

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