Barnet's Planning Committee (22 June) have refused a planning application from Comer Homes Group for a development of 1,350 homes including high rise blocks up to 9 storeys and a new free school on the 17 hectare North London Business Park site (NLBP) in Brunswick Park ward.
The Committee found that the proposal was overdevelopment and completely out of character with the area. The Council's own planning policies state that tall buildings over 7 storeys or 26 metres are only allowed in specified locations and that “outside of these specific locations, proposals for tall buildings will not be supported”.
The London Plan sets out that 35-75 units per hectare is appropriate for a suburban area such as NLBP but the proposal from Comer was over 90 units per hectare.
Comer, which owns the land, had offered 2 hectares of the land for free to the Greek school St Andrew the Apostle which currently occupies buildings there, subject to the overall development - including the housing - being granted planning permission.
Members of the Committee were not happy that the school appeared to have been used as a lever to try and convince the Committee to agree the development because of the need for additional school places.
The proposed development also only included 10% affordable housing on the basis that any more would make the scheme 'unviable' because of the land taken up by the school.
Two hundred and twenty eight residents objected to the proposals, with 470 signatures on two petitions also in opposition to the proposals.
Labour Brunswick Park councillor, Kathy Levine, who had objected to the plans and spoke at the Planning meeting said:
"We don’t want high rise creep going on in suburban areas such as this - it is completely out of keeping with the local area.
"I don't agree with Cllr Rutter who argued for Phase 1 of the application to be agreed in her submission, as this includes two blocks of 8 storeys.
"There were only 315 homes with 3 bedrooms in the proposal, and 1,035 homes with 1 and 2 bedrooms. An excellent school on site would increase the demand for family homes, so the development was clearly not meeting Barnet's need for family homes either.
"The school should put in a separate application for their new free school - something they were encouraged to do. The Government is responsible for funding new free schools, including buying the land - they have done this in a number of other cases.
"We should not be forced to accept an out of character overdevelopment with a derisory number of affordable homes in order to ensure the expansion of an outstanding school with much needed school places. The proposed tower blocks are out of keeping with the area and some would overlook existing local residents' homes and gardens.
"The proposed footpath and cycle path from the site into Weirdale Avenue and Ashbourne Avenue was also unacceptable it would cause untold parking chaos in those narrow roads which would become a cut through for 1350 households and other neighbours."