Sunday 2 February 2020

10 years on a planning application for Welsh Harp site returns



Ten years ago both Barnet Council and Brent Council turned down applications to build housing on respectively the Woodfield Nursery site on Cool Oak Lane and the Greenhouse Garden Centre in Birchen Grove. Both sites have the same owner.

Now a planning application has been lodged by Taylor Wimpey to demolish the greenhouses at Woodfield Nursery and build 41 houses and flats plus a reprovided landscape contractor premises.

The new plans are for 27 houses at market rates (including 11 four bedrooms), 2 houses 2 bedrooms) and 8 flats at social rent, and 2 houses and 2 flats at intermediate rates.

Barnet Council turned down the last application on the following grounds:
 1. Inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land with no special circumstances cited for development.
2. Loss of existing employment on the site.
3. Non-compliant flood risk assessment.
4. Insufficient information on the impact of the proposed development on biodiversity and nature conservation.
5. Insufficient information on whether the development would provide future occupiers with adequate levels of amenity, particularly with regard to the proximity of the Hendon Rifle Club.
6. Insufficient information of the development's impact on the amenity value of trees, including those protected by Tree Preservation Orders.
7. No energy strategy or assessment of the energy demands and carbon dioxide emissions of the development submitted with the application.
8. No formal undertaking in the application to enter into a travel and traffic management plan.

Some of those issues remain although employment is retained in the new application for the existing landscape contractor business and there is a new Arboricultural Report which aims to preserve more trees and mitigate any loss LINK.  The Ecological Report overall suggests little ecological impact on the site itself LINK but merits close examination.  I can see no travel and traffic management plan on the document list - pleas email me a link if you can see one.

So far there are no comments on the Barnet Planning Portal for this application but areas of consideration include.

Woodfield Nursery is an an area of Metropolitan Open Land and development would be contrary to the Barnet Unitary Development Plan.

The site is in an area of an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)

Development would disturb bird and wildlife on the site and in its proximity.

Development of 41 dwellings would contribute to traffic on what was originally a winding country lane which has single file traffic over Cool Oak Bridge to the new West Hendon development.

Increased traffic on the lane would increase the possibility of accidents to  pupils at the nearby Woodfield Special School who arrive by school buses and taxis.

There is  no public transport in the immediate area.

The Barnet-Brent Welsh Harp sited has already suffered from the West Hendon development on the opposite bank and further development would set a precedent for more applications to develop this rare and much valued open space, including perhaps the Birchen Grove Garden Centre site. (I have checked the Brent Planning Portal and no application has been lodged so far.)
A significant comment is made by Armstrong Rigg Planning on behalf of their client Taylor Wimpey:
Pre-application discussions with the Council have unfortunately proven unhelpful and inconclusivewith officer’s initial positive stance towards the development of the site having been replaced with one that is diametrically opposed. This has been extremely frustrating for the applicants and has placed them in a somewhat difficult position, and one we as their advisors have never experienced before. Having sought legal advice, they feel that they have no option but to proceed with the submission of a planning application, and an appeal thereafter, if necessary, in order to obtain a conclusive response.
Their document goes into detail on this conflict with planning officers. LINK 
You can comment on the application HERE

All the documents can be accessed HERE

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