Thursday, 19 October 2017

Barnet campaigners against new school on Green Belt land urge attendance at October 25th Planning Committee

Opponents of plans to build an Ark secondary school on Green Belt land in Barnet are urging residents to attend the Planning Committee on October 25th at the Town Hall.

The item appears to have been added late to the meeting agenda and of course occurs during the Autum half-term holiday which may affect attendance.

The plans are now for a secondary rather than an all-through school and officers are recommending approval. If approved it will be subject to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and the Secretary of State.

The conclusion to their report LINK states:

.        17.1 The application seeks permission the comprehensive redevelopment of the site to provide a new 6FE secondary school, accommodating up to 1200 pupils. It is acknowledged that the development represents ‘inappropriate development’ on green belt land and as such is only justified if very special circumstances exist.

.        17.2  Recent appeal decisions from the planning inspectorate have accepted the need for school places can be a very special circumstance which could justify inappropriate development on green belt land. In this case, officers consider that there is an overwhelming and demonstrable need for secondary school places within the borough which is clearly demonstrated within the school places data within this report. The Council’s Education Department have been unequivocal in outlining this need and it is clear that the need for secondary school places is especially pertinent given that it results from an exceptional increase in primary school intake and thus those additional children that will need the secondary school places are already in the school system.

.        17.3  It is important to note that even if the nearby Totteridge Academy were brought up to full capacity then there would still be an overwhelming need for the secondary school places which this development would deliver. In planning terms, further expansion of TTA would not be sequentially preferable to the current proposals given that such development would entail further green belt encroachment as opposed to the current scheme which represents previously developed land.

.        17.4  The special circumstances are reinforced by the lack of alternative sites that are available to facilitate development that could meet the identified need. The sequential assessment carried out in support of the application is considered to be robust and clearly demonstrates that all other sites of an appropriate size are unavailable, unsuitable or unviable with regards to providing a secondary school that would meet the identified need.

.        17.4  The development would not have an unacceptably detrimental impact on the openness of the green belt which is demonstrated by the visual impact assessment submitted by the applicant. The scale and height of the development steps down to integrate with the surrounding development and in this regard it is considered that it would not be visually incongruous within its context.

.        17.5  Subject to conditions, the development would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the surrounding residential occupiers in terms of daylight, sunlight, overshadowing, privacy, outlook or noise.

.        17.6  One of the primary concerns arising from the consultation exercise was the potential for the development to have a detrimental impact on surrounding highway conditions in terms of traffic congestion, traffic safety and parking. In order to mitigate the impact of the development on the surrounding highways, the junctions of the A1000/Underhill and Underhill/Barnet Lane would be remodelled to ease traffic flow. A new right turn lane would be installed at the Underhill/Barnet Lane junction whilst comprehensive remodelling of the A1000/Underhill would allow for two lanes of traffic to travel in each direction which would significantly ease existing capacity problems. The S106 would require a contribution from the applicant towards the cost of the junction works which is commensurate with the level of impact that would arise from the development. The outstanding costs of the junction works would be met by the Council. The junction works would be implemented prior to the occupation of the development. On this basis, it is clear that the proposed highway improvement works would address both existing traffic congestion and the additional traffic impact that would arise from the development. Officers are therefore clearly of the view that there should be no grounds for refusal of the application on highway grounds.

.        17.7  in terms of parking, a parking survey was submitted as part of the Transport Assessment which assessed the projected impact of the development with regards to parking stress on the surrounding streets. Based on the projected modal split, the parking survey demonstrates that there is adequate existing capacity to accommodate any overspill parking not accommodated for within the on-site car park. Nevertheless, the applicant is committed to enter into a School Travel Plan as part of the S106 which would commit them to meeting car use targets. Should these targets not be met then a further parking review would be triggered which may necessitate a CPZ review which would mitigate any additional impact which may arise.

.        17.8  Officers consider that the planning obligations sought through the S106 Agreement would mitigate the impacts of development where necessary.

.        17.9  Having regard to all of the above and making a balanced recommendation, officers consider that the development is acceptable and as such approval of the application is recommended.


19.0 Recommendation: To approve application ref: 17/4840/FUL subject to the conditions and planning obligations outlined and subject to referral to the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State.

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