Monday, 20 September 2010

Brent Cross : Open letter from Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet

By David Howard,

Dear Barnet Councillor,

I attach a letter with a series of questions relating to the Brent Cross development that are a matter of concern to residents and I suggest should be of concern to Councillors also.  Please consider the questions carefully and refer the item back for answers to be provided.
Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet
                                Chair: David Howard

19th September 2010

Open letter to all councillors on Barnet Planning and Environment Committee

Dear Councillor,

Brent Cross and Cricklewood  Application number C/17559/08

You have been given one more chance at the PEC on Monday night for sanity to prevail and to prevent the council incurring large sums in defending an expensive Judicial Review, then paying out costs to the winning plaintiff,.

There are a number of questions that need satisfactory answers:-

a.    Is there a need for another new town and extended retail centre?

b.    Why has the council relied on the developers assessment of the need for more retail space?

c.    Why has the council not carried out its own assessment in light of the large new Westfields development at White City and the imminent opening of Europe’s largest shopping mall by Westfields at Stratford?

d.    Why has the council not had regard to the change in shopping patterns eg the rapid growth of internet shopping?

e.    Why has the council not considered the impact of a new town centre and extended retail mall at Brent Cross on the other 22 town centres in Barnet plus others further afield?

f.    Why is the council ignoring the impact of 29,000 extra cars a day coming to the site?

g.    What evidence do the officers have that leads them to believe that 70% of all current Brent Cross users plus 70% of all future users will leave their cars at home and travel to the centre by bus?

h.    Do you as Councillors with knowledge of your electorate honestly believe this will happen?

i.    Do you believe that the Edgware branch of the Northern line will be able to cope with tens of 000s of shoppers for Brent Cross, 20,000 occupiers of the new hutches for hobbits at Brent Cross, 30,000 new residents at Colindale plus c 20,000 for other new residents up the rest of the Northern Line every day?

j.    Why are the officers refusing to safeguard the route for a possible future light rail/rapid transit system?

k.    Why has the Council ignored the opposition in writing to the proposals from the neighbouring Borough of Brent?

l.    Why have the officers misled the Councillors in respect of recent changes in National and Regional Planning policies?

m.    Are you aware that only phase one with the retail mall extension, the rubbish dump and a few flats are guaranteed to be built if permission is granted? 

n.    Are Councillors aware that the developer can build the most profitable first phase and then use the flexibility they persuaded the officers to build into the legal agreement to walk away from the remaining phases?

o.    Are Councillors happy to proceed with a £4.5billion scheme on the basis of a deal with a shell company eg no assets or parent company guarantees?

p.    Have the councillors seen the evidence that “the air leaving the 140 metre high chimney will be cleaner than the air entering the plant” as stated by Cllr Freer last year?

q.    Have the developers been given examples of successful pollution free heat from waste plants as promised by the developers last year?   We have only been able to find examples of the new technology failing in the UK, Germany, Austria, Norway, America and Australia. Is that why the developers are keeping quiet?

r.    There are many more unanswered questions but  the above give an idea of why we are concerned

There are too many major unanswered questions to allow this scheme to proceed in its present form.

The need by the Officers to get some cash into the Councils coffers quickly has obscured the longer term best interests of the residents of Barnet and the wider community of North London.

This is your last chance to reach the right decision as Councillors.  If you fail the Courts will take over and we will not only lose the projected income but also incur large legal bills.

We urge you to refer back the scheme tonight for a full review of the above issues.
Yours sincerely,
David Howard
Chair of FORAB
David Howard is the Chair of Forab and an occasional contributor to the Barnet Eye. All relevent guest blogs and open letters are welcome for publication without comment or editing. In this case, I have removed Davids address and phone number from the letter.

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