BREAKING: Today 16 July, even while the consultation continues, Barnet planners published their report (with a very brief summary of objections and without directly addressing them) and recommended approval. The planning committee meets on 29 July.
NorthWestTwo Residents Association remains opposed to this planning application, for reasons that we and our members, our fellow residents’ associations, other residents and developers have given. We won’t try to repeat them all.
The gesture of cropping a little off one tower block was prepared long ago. In 2019 the developers told us they planned a development of 14, 16 and 20 storeys. Then it was 21 storeys, then that was revised to 25 storeys. Now we’re back to 19 storeys as originally intended, but now with 16, 17, 18 and 19 storey companions.
In the consultation process, some objectors have used the 25-storey tower as the most vivid and (they hope) convincing instance of the flaws in this application. The nominally trimmed building remains twice the height of the tallest buildings around and many times greater than the two- and three-storey buildings that are the norm. If it had been presented as 19 storeys in the first place, it would have attracted the same horror, the same scorn and the same opposition. It would still have been used as a convincing instance of the flaws in this application. But time and again, we see that the opposition is not just to one building; it is to the scale and massing of the entire development, its low quality, inadequate separation, minimal living conditions and breaches of policy, and the overwhelming impact it would have.
As the application remains essentially unchanged, we cannot expect the same numbers to participate in yet another consultation. It is good that fresh consultation letters are sent for each change, but you know what we all do with multiple official letters. We look at them and say, I’ve dealt with that already. It takes a little work to see what’s different and a moment more to think, does that change anything. The answer comes, no, it doesn’t change it, I have already completed the online form, I have given my answer: I object.
We should all be able to feel confident that our original statements will be considered, we should all feel confident that officialdom won’t lose our files. It is very striking that so many feel ready to and feel the need to repeat their opposition.
The most significant effect of this amendment is to remove qualitative claims the developers made for the development. Time and again, we were told that the tower would provide a landmark, now it will be one lump alongside another. It would be elegant; we were never told how or why, and we are certainly not being told how that elegance survives a change in proportions. The repeated claims of a “beneficial effect” did not merely seek to justify its height; they relied upon it.
We note with interest the 19th version of Barnet’s draft local plan. While the idea that the site was suitable for 1,007 units was never presented to residents during the Engage Barnet process and has instead been fiercely rebutted by this consultation process, the draft does now state that “The Council will prepare an area planning framework for the Cricklewood Growth Area.” This has not been done and it would be premature to approve a major application without it. Any area planning framework will need to take into account the entire context of Cricklewood, less than half of which is in Barnet. The streets of Cricklewood are largely two-storey homes in private ownership and there is no realistic likelihood that they will be available for any regeneration projects in the coming decades. The imposition of incoherent intensification on pieces of Cricklewood will only overwhelm and blight the whole.