Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Activist slams Capita & Barnet Council over Brent Cross regen plans

Local activist Alison Hopkins has written to the current Public Inquiry into the the compulsory purchases of the Brent Cross Regeneration Scheme outlining its impact on local residents. It is long so please use the 'Read more'  button to get the whole picture

I am writing to you as a long-time resident – over forty years - of Humber Road NW2 in the London Borough of Brent, and as the former Brent councillor for this ward, Dollis Hill. I am also representing many local residents and associations in this letter.

I request that you pass the following to the Inspector leading the Public Inquiry into CPO3 for the Brent Cross Regeneration scheme as a matter of urgency.

This is on the grounds that not only are Barnet Council and Capita utterly failing to listen to local people, as has been their pattern for over a decade, but are also gravely misleading the Inspector. I have been personally attempting to have proper discussions and gain true answers to the points raised here for almost a decade. I have constantly been stalled by Barnet, Capita and their partners, especially G L Hearn.

Most recently, residents who attended the so-called public consultations in Dollis Hill were promised full responses, but these have never been forthcoming. G L Hearn promised to arrange a meeting with Barnet officers after the latest consultation meeting in April. Despite repeated emails from me, and others, this has never happened. We are being neglected and ignored by Barnet/Capita deliberately.

As we are in a neighbouring borough, they feel entirely free to do so, to our huge detriment, presumably because we do not constitute their electorate. Dollis Hill is DIRECTLY ADJACENT to the development and will be more affected by these proposed road changes than ANY residential part of Barnet. This is unfair under common law.

Humber Road is referred to throughout the evidence from Peter Alsop, of the London Borough of Barnet. (Please note that your website incorrectly says that he works for Brent.) The evidence he has provided is factually incorrect and gravely flawed in all key respects, as I shall now document.
Humber Road is a predominantly residential road. The whole of Dollis Hill is a 20 mph speed limited zone and falls within the HGV ban which covers the vast majority of the ward. That ban prohibits any vehicle over 7.5 tonnes from using the road at any time, other than for access to premises in the road. It is the narrowest road leading from the A5. There are three side roads, cul de sacs, which can only be accessed from Humber Road and also a low rise block of flats in the road. Humber Road serves approximately 200 dwellings, with many families with children, as the properties are mostly small three bedroomed houses. There are, therefore, several hundred people directly affected by Barnet's appalling plans and thousands more across Dollis Hill.

Humber Road has a few commercial small premises towards the A5 end, which are almost all offices. There is a small commercial laundry and a micro-brewery at the A5 end. We do not have any manufacturing businesses or companies, and most commercial deliveries are made by large vans or Luton box sized vehicles which generally enter and exit from the A5.

I am, personally, very familiar with our traffic flows and issues. I was the prime mover and initiator of the signalised crossing on the A5 at the end of Humber Road and obtained the funding for it. I also had implemented a traffic island on Coles Green Road, and worked on the 20 mph limit proposals and the new signage for the HGV ban. I have worked closely with the Metropolitan Police as part of the Community Roadwatch scheme, which involves residents in using speed cameras to trap motorists exceeding the speed limit. I am also on the Dollis Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team panel which has traffic issues as a priority. The police officers with whom I have engaged have repeatedly expressed their concerns about speeding and rat running locally.

I, together with other residents here, am utterly horrified at the statements that Capita/Barnet have made at the on-going public enquiry - and in their written evidence - with regard to the proposal to enable a right turn from the A5 Edgware Road into Humber Road.

The Capita representative stated that this proposal would “benefit the residents of Humber Road/Dollis Hill”. We who LIVE in the road are appalled by this claim. It is utter and arrant nonsense, as anyone who actually knows the geography and traffic flows in Dollis Hill can attest. To reiterate: Humber Road is the narrowest road leading from the A5. It is almost entirely residential and in a zone where vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are prohibited at any time, other than for access. At the moment, one of the very few protections we have from both heavy lorries and excess vehicles in general is the fact that they cannot turn right into the road. Barnet/Capita’s truly dreadful proposals would remove this protection for the several hundred people directly affected and would impact gravely on many other surrounding roads in Dollis Hill, all residential.

As I write this, on the 11th September 2017, we have had massive issues locally due to the closure of the Staples Corner A406 flyover for two weekends running. This resulted in gridlock on our narrow road, the police attending and residents being forced to direct traffic. This has been documented in local news media. This happened in part because of traffic turning LEFT into Humber Road from the A5 northbound, to escape the jams in both directions on the A5. If motorists had been able to turn RIGHT into Humber Road as well, then this would have been, literally, the perfect storm. It cannot be doubted that motorists would have tried this manoeuvre either: the A5 is frequently queued back almost as far as the A5 flyover, and roadworks at the Dollis Hill Lane junction have exacerbated this.
The statements made in sections 5.14, 6.3.1, 6.3.2 and 6.3.4 of Phillip Hardwick's written evidence are wholly incorrect, in particular, the remark that this is to the benefit of Humber Road residents . Given that Barnet and Capita has at NO time sought our views or made any attempt to respond to us when we have objected, how on earth can they make that statement? My discussions with Brent officers over many years do not support the statement that Brent Council agrees to these proposals. And, Barnet has provided no evidence of this support.

The new road layout proposals for Brent Cross mean that anyone driving southbound down the A5 and wishing to go west on the North Circular would be pushed into a series of convoluted and complicated road junctions to the east. This will simply encourage rat running and the use of our road to reach the A406. We already have significant problems with rat running in Dollis Hill and this will make matters far worse. Barnet’s very damaging proposal means vehicles will be free to enter Humber Road from the A5 southbound, then turn into Coles Green Road, and then reach the A406 westbound. It is also crucial to note that the part of Coles Green Road, which would be badly affected by such rat running, has a grade II listed building, already in peril through excess traffic. This is the 14th century Oxgate Farm.

Barnet/Capita claimed at the enquiry that this right turn will “provide access into the Northern part of Dollis Hill for trips which would otherwise need to travel on alternate routes within Dollis Hill".
The northern residential part of Dollis Hill is already perfectly adequately served in terms of road access for visitors who have legitimate business here.

If Barnet/Capita are referring to the small industrial area which is bounded by Coles Green Road and Oxgate Lane, and is the ONLY part of the ward which allows 7.5 tonne plus goods vehicles, then this means that Barnet propose to encourage heavy lorries into our tiny road, and thus into the residential area beyond. When I was a councillor, I initiated traffic surveys which showed several hundred lorries a DAY entering that industrial area – are we to have our lives made an utter misery like this purely for the benefit of Barnet/Capita? The area from Humber Road to the west is entirely residential: Barnet/Capita’s right turn will push more traffic into Dollis Hill, not less. The 7.5 tonne limit will not be policed day to day, so we will have no redress or protection.

Barnet/Capita claim that vehicles travelling to the commercial properties on Humber Road use routes within Dollis Hill. This, again, is nonsense. They do not. I live on Humber Road, I know which vehicles use our roads and where they go. Barnet want to penalise us. These proposals will, frankly, ruin the lives of those of us who live here. Again, this proposal will encourage commercial vehicles to leave premises on Humber Road and rather than leaving via the A5 they will cut through Dollis Hill to the A406. This is in direct contravention of the London Plan on residential roads.

Barnet/Capita also claim that Brent support the right turn into Humber Road. They have provided no evidence of this whatsoever. It should be noted that when the Brent Cross Cricklewood Scheme was originally given planning consent in 2009, Barnet claimed falsely then that Brent had raised no objections. Barnet may have given this planning approval but that was in the face of many objections and challenges, including from Brent Council.

The so-called A5 Corridor Study has from the outset been based on totally inaccurate traffic figures and flawed traffic assessments. For example, claims were made that no vehicles turned left into Humber Road from the A5 in the peak hours.

Capita/Barnet also said that they want to close access to the A5 from Oxgate Lane. That proposal is utterly ludicrous. Oxgate Lane is a very wide road indeed and is entirely commercial being the southern boundary of the small industrial area. Again, when I discussed this with Brent officers, they were unenthusiastic, to say the least. Closing Oxgate Lane off will mean even MORE cars and lorries using Humber Road! Wing Yip, who have a complex of buildings on the A5, successfully applied for planning permission recently for a large new warehouse, car parking and access road from Oxgate Lane. Part of their justification was to avoid using the narrow Humber Road: the new access road will be internal to their own premises and mean that delivery traffic would be confined. By closing off Oxgate Lane to the A5, this will penalise Wing Yip, and push their HGVs leaving the new warehouse BACK into Dollis Hill. Barnet has obviously totally ignored this, and has not carried out any duty of care or duty to consult to ensure that a holistic approach is taken to planning. It seems as though their thinking ends at the A5.

I and many others attended Barnet/Capita’s so called consultations in Dollis Hill. We told them in no uncertain terms that these proposals were severely damaging to our community and the families living here. None of this is noted or documented in any of Barnet’s submissions. They are, therefore, deliberately distorting the consultation result and are misleading the inspector.

We who live in Dollis Hill and Humber Road do not understand why Barnet and Capita are persisting with this appalling proposal. They do not need the right turn from the A5 southbound to Humber Road to facilitate movements, nor is it needed for the supposed Waste Transfer Station. Indeed, the North London Waste Authority has strongly objected to the movement of their operation, and its relocation to the A5, for reasons which INCLUDE the deleterious impact on Dollis Hill. It would seem that the NLWA has far more care for the welfare of Dollis Hill residents than Barnet Council does.

The Mayor of London has stated this in the current London Plan:
“The Mayor will, and boroughs and other stakeholders should, enhance the quality of life in outer London for present and future residents as one of its key contributions to London as a whole.”
He has also stated that a generally high quality of life is one of outer London’s major assets. Barnet’s plans are in direct contravention of these laudable aspirations. They will ruin our quality of life for those living here now and for generations to come.

I ask that the Inspector provides us with the duty of care in regard to our quality of life which Barnet has failed to do, and refuse this CPO because it is so obviously NOT in the public interest.


Philip Grant said...

A clear, well-argued and well-evidenced statement of facts that the Inspector should welcome and act on.

I just hope that, for once, common sense will prevail, and that the developer(s), and a Council that is prepared to lie in order to assist them, do not prevail over the interests of local residents.


Sandro said...

"I just hope that, for once, common sense will prevail" - IT WON'T Philip! We as local residents of Brent have no voice or say in anything the Council does when it comes to matters like this. We are irrelevant to the Council until it comes to paying our Council Tax, then we become meaningful to them again!

Martin Francis said...

Hi Sandro, in this case it is Barnet Council but I know what you mean.

Sandro said...

I was aware that the main Council in question was Barnet but surely Martin Brent Council will have a say in this too as roads like Dollis Hill & Oxgate Lane come under Brent jurisdiction?

Alison Hopkins said...

Thank you Philip, I appreciate that. If the CPOs fail - or even one does! - the whole house of cards falls apart. It's interesting that the report from last year's Inquiry hasn't been publishe yet, although it's believed to have gone to the Secretary of State. Perhaps he doesn't like what it says. We live in hope.

What is also noteworthy is the opposition from the Waste Authority.....!

Sandro, Brent are not fighting our corner. This is a Barnet plan, but Brent are supine.