This is a must-read letter from the Chair of the "Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet", Mr. David Howard.
I write is response to Mr Sach’s letter regarding the fear of change at Brent Cross. The Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet joined the "Coalition FOR a Sustainable Brent Cross and Cricklewood" because we agree that parts of the area do need investment and regeneration. Because of the scale of the potential development, there is an opportunity to build a sustainable community fit for the 21st century. Medium-density low-rise houses could be built, needing zero heating with hot water from solar heating and PV electric panels. Exemplar projects are already underway in the UK,.and they all put the local residents and the future needs of the wider community at the heart of the developments.
Yes, we do fear the current proposals. The existing established, well-housed community is destroyed, to be replaced with high-density high-rise "hutches for hobbits", not fit for family homes.
The need for the extra shops and a new town centre has not been demonstrated. Most of the research has been carried out by the developer, and does not take into account the new Westfield centre at White City and the other Westfield centre under construction at Stratford, opening for the Olympics.. The matter has not been subject to detailed independent examination The Borough carried out one study, which has numerous errors and omissions in the only version that is in the public domain. Barnet has 22 existing town centres, many of which are struggling to survive already. No consideration has been given to the impact on them, or the cost to their communities if the centres collapse
The adjoining boroughs of Camden and Brent have done work on the impact on their areas, and are very concerned. Brent has detailed objections to the proposals, but these were ignored by Barnet.
29,000 extra cars on the local roads are predicted EVERY day. This was the figure used by the developer and Barnet for four years, and changed to 9,000 recently. This was achieved by saying that 70% of all current visitors to Brent Cross, and 70% of all new users of the centre, would leave their cars at home and travel by bus. It cooks the books alright, but in all honesty does any one believe it will really happen?.
The Northern Line Station will be improved, but people travel on trains not stations, and there are no proposals to improve capacity on the Edgware branch of the Northern Line to cope with the passengers generated by 20,000 proposed new homes along the line by 2025, let alone any new shoppers. It is also a bus ride away from the shopping centre.
The new Brent Cross main line railway station is scheduled for phase 5, and is meant to serve the office tower blocks. The developer is only committed to build phase one, which increases the retail area and provides 700 new flats together with the increased cars. The so called benefits are in later stages which both the developer and council accept are highly dependent on the state of the economy.
The proposal to build an incinerator is being portrayed as a green benefit. It is not. It is a cash-cow for the developer, and will increase the air pollution in an area of London around the North Circular Road, already identified as periodically breaching European air quality standards and rendering the Government liable to heavy fines. The impact of 29,000 extra cars and an incinerator emitting dioxins and other fumes from its 140-metre-high chimney is something to fear
Yes, we are afraid. This scheme is designed on outdated 1960s car-based principles to generate profits for the developer. This is being achieved at the expense of thousands of people who live, not just in the immediate vicinity, but over a much larger area of North London. This is a wonderful opportunity to build a new eco-town designed for the 21st Century. We must not miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance in pursuit of short-term profits.
Chair of FORAB.