650-home Barnet scheme blocked by members against officer advice

Plans for a 650-home, 10-storey scheme on a former gasworks site in north London have been unanimously opposed by Barnet Council's planning committee against officers' advice, after members voiced concerns about the proposal's height and density.

The proposed Victoria Quarter housing development (Pic: One Housing)
The proposed Victoria Quarter housing development (Pic: One Housing)

Developer Citystyle Fairview submitted a full application to the London Borough of Barnet for 652 homes with 14 buildings up to ten storeys, and 328 square metres of commercial floorspace. 

According to the officer's committee report, some 35 per cent of habitable rooms would be affordable housing, of which 60 per cent would be affordable Rent and 40 per cent shared ownership.

The three hectare application site is part of a former British Gas Works site that is now vacant. It has existing permissions for a total of 371 homes in ten blocks with 618 square metres of commercial floorspace.

Planning officers had recommended conditional approval of the scheme but committee members voted unanimously against this at a meeting on Wednesday 2 September.

Members raised concerns over the density and height of the design, which they considered to be out of character with the local area. 

They said a supplementary planning document for the area, the New Barnet Town Centre Framework, envisages the locality as being made up of predominantly low-rise suburban buildings and expressed worries that approving the scheme could set a precedent for other similar high-rise proposals.

They also felt the scheme does not meet local planning policies as it would not address local housing needs, in particular for family housing. 

They pointed out that only 19 per cent of the housing would be three-bedroom homes, with just 122 three-bedroom units compared to 220 studio and one-bedroom units. 

Councillors further raised concerns that the assigned affordable homes were likely to in the least desirable blocks backing onto a railway line, making life “difficult” for those living there. 

The committee voted to defer the final decision on the application to the next meeting to allow officers to draft grounds for refusal for members to then vote on. 

Officers had considered that the scheme should be conditionally approved, subject to referral to the  mayor of London due to its size and completion of a section 106 legal agreement.

They found its “significant public and wider regenerative benefits” outweighed any concerns around the buildings' height and density. 

Their report said the proposed development on a disused brownfield site would supply much-needed housing and would help revitalise the town centre. They added that 35 per cent affordable housing is a “significant uplift” from the current planning permissions. 

In addition, the officers decided that “no significant impacts” were identified to neighbours, future occupiers or the environment. 


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