Sunday, 17 October 2010

Brent Cross redevelopment - Questions requiring an answer

Brent Cross and Cricklewood Application number C/17559/08

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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

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 high rise flats 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?

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

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

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

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

More point to ponder:

· the regeneration scheme does not conform to a number of national planning policy issues. For example, the Government’s Climate Change Law has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. However, this scheme will generate thousands of extra car journeys per day, and this will only detract from the required reduction in CO2 emissions. In addition, residential buildings will only achieve a 3-star rating under the Code for Sustainable Homes, further contributing to CO2 emissions.

· the adverse impacts arising from this scheme (the large increase in noise, traffic congestion and air pollution) extend far beyond the London Borough of Barnet boundary, so decisions concerning the scheme should not be left to Barnet councillors alone

· there is increasing confusion over what is being proposed. For example, the large waste handling facility is unspecified. Arguments abound concerning incineration and gasification; both could have adverse effects on the health and safety of residents.

· there has been a significant lack of adequate and meaningful consultation concerning this scheme, including with Brent and Camden residents. Although Barnet Council mostly adhered to the letter of the law, they did not adhere to its spirit.

· Barnet Council are unable to take an impartial view of the scheme due to a conflict of interest, since they are supporters of the scheme, major landowners in the area, and acting as ‘objective’ Local Planning Authority decision-makers.

· the current scheme is simply a way of extending Brent Cross Shopping Centre, a proposal that was strongly opposed and thrown out by a public inquiry in 1999, and a Judicial Review and a High Court judgement in 2003. The recent reduction of other elements of Phase One, but still allowing the doubling of the shopping centre, seems to support this view. No other phases are guaranteed to be delivered by the developers.

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