15-storey tower block in the middle of Cricklewood


The planning application for 1-13 Cricklewood Lane (where the Co-op, Lucky 7, health centre and so on are now) is now in and available on Barnet’s website. It’s application 18/6353 and the documents are on Barnet’s planning pages at https://publicaccess.barnet.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PH1YRZJIGF800 .

The old buildings are grim; it makes sense to replace them. But there’s a lot wrong with this plan.

A tower block will be totally out of keeping with the buildings in the heart of Cricklewood, mainly 2- and 3-storey buildings, occasionally 4-storey, with a 5- & 6-storey development coming on the Galtymore site at 194-196 Cricklewood Broadway. This block would literally tower over everything around it, be visible from many angles and overlook all its neighbours.

The developers say it’s in keeping with other developments. They point to Colindale, miles away, and to Brent Cross South, also a mile away. They say “the Brent Cross Masterplan has the largest influence on the site”. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t. Cricklewood itself should have the largest influence; Brent Cross Cricklewood was always presented as the creation of a new town centre by the North Circular, not as a cancer that would spread and spread.

They also claim it will be in keeping with a new “Cricklewood Quarter“. The B&Q building and its car-park, the Green, Jewsons, Beacon Bingo, the Travelodge, the telephone exchange and woodyard, and the Railway Terraces’ allotments will all be replaced by massive blocks.  There’s a 16-storey one, a 21-storey one beside it, maybe another 21-storey one and about 18 more. It’s hard to tell because they’re all cramped together and hide each other.

  • The developers don’t own any of that land.
  • Barnet Council hasn’t produced any masterplan for Cricklewood. There’s no indication they’d approve building on this scale.
  • This tower block clearly won’t fit in with the rest of Cricklewood unless their invented “Cricklewood Quarter” is built.
  • Building this tower block will blight the land it overlooks and limit options for anyone who did think of building on the B&Q site.
  • Approval for this tower would make more high-rise high-density development in the heart of Cricklewood more likely, creating a new “context” and closing off more appropriate development.

They propose 187 flats, mainly 1- and 2-bedroom. About 55 will be in the upper storeys, above the 6-storey level we see elsewhere in the plan and nearby at 194-196 Cricklewood Broadway and Fellows Square. There’ll be no social housing but maybe a little affordable housing. They won’t say how much (and we’ve seen developers agree one thing at first, then force the council to accept less saying it’s not viable any more) but the plans are revealing. There’s a poor door in one corner and 9 affordable flats – less than 5% of the total.

The pavement might be a little wider, the shops might go a little deeper, there might be space for a health centre if the CCG hasn’t already taken the funds away (which is very likely). Otherwise there’ll be no community benefit, nothing to enrich the wider town centre like a public green square or a community centre.

Transport problems aren’t properly considered. There’ll be 2 car parking spaces for every 5 homes and plenty of cycle parking and it’s near the station, so all will be well.

  • Commuter trains are already crammed when they reach Cricklewood and the platforms can’t take longer trains.
  • Cricklewood Lane’s already overloaded; in 2015 it was the joint slowest road in England.
  • There’s no mention of the Ubers or the online shopping deliveries, the Deliveroos and JustEats and all the ways busy city-workers in cramped flats live these days.
  • The A5 will soon have an extra 450 HGV movements a day bringing construction waste to the rail freight facility behind Lidl and fetching aggregates from it. There’ll be another 350 HGV trips a day at the new waste facility further up.
  • We still don’t know if the Cricklewood Broadway / Cricklewood Lane / Chichele Road junction will ever be straightened out, or if the Cricklewood Lane / Claremont Road / Lichfield Road one will.

We can’t tell you much about who the developers are. Centre East Properties don’t seem to have built anything else, but the company’s registered in the British Virgin Islands, where taxes are low and companies don’t publish their accounts or say who their owners are. Whoever it is might have lots of companies or just this one, and we have no idea what their resources are either.

The Barnet planning site‘s already open for comments, objections and support. You can comment now and add more later, or do it all at once. The deadline’s 7 December. You can phrase things any way you like. Planning committees ignore petitions and standard letters, so we’re not going to suggest something for you to copy and paste, but you might like our guide to things planning committees can take into account, things they can’t consider, and common reasons to reject applications.

The planning committee can’t approve one part of the plan and reject another part. If you want the Co-op building redeveloped but you don’t want a tower, object! The developers can appeal, they can go to the Mayor, and then they can come back with a fresh application, one that provides new homes, makes the developers money and suits Cricklewood. Other developers can do it; we’re sure Centre East Properties can too.

Our objection’s here.

Click here to add yours.

The developer’s view from Chichele Road. Note the beautiful sunny day, the lack of traffic, the way the clouds make the tower block seem to blend into the skyline and the way the building above Costa seems to mass larger. According to the Brent Cross Cricklewood plans, the building on the right (with the phone shop) is going to be demolished to straighten out the junction.

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