Saturday, 1 October 2011

Matthew Offord MP criticises Saracens plans for Barnet Copthall Stadium

Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon has issued the following statement on his website

This statement puts our Conservative MP at odds with his Conservative colleagues on Barnet Council. Matthews statement is reproduced in full below without edit or comment from the Barnet Eye.
Barnet Copthall Stadium

This is a significant planning application for the Mill Hill area. As such I am grateful to all residents for letting me have their views. Through my public meeting and via correspondence I have received hundreds of comments and this has been very useful in helping me to form an opinion on the planning application.
I have taken into account all the representations that I have received. I am aware that there may be advantages to local schools and the community as a result of access to improved sporting and social facilities and this is an important consideration. However, over 90 per cent of the representations received are opposed to this application and, having carefully considered those representations, I believe they make an overwhelmingly strong case to oppose Saracens’ application. I therefore have submitted a letter of opposition to Barnet Council based on the following reasons:

1. Parking. There is insufficient parking available in the area and there are inadequate proposals in the application to address this. I believe this proposal will exacerbate the parking situation in this part of Mill Hill and have a significantly negative impact on the lives of residents.

2. Public Transport Links. The Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) score of the site is 0. This is due to the fact that the final walk distances from the transport nodes are in excess of the ideal walk distances which are recognised in PTAL scores. It therefore is not unreasonable to suppose that spectators will choose to use private rather than public transport.

2. Private Transport and Access. I believe Page Street as one of two access routes is unsuitable. It will have an unacceptable impact in terms of congestion, pollution and inconvenience on the residents of Page Street and adjacent roads. There will be significant impact on the traffic at the Fiveways corner junction and the application contains no definite proposals to manage this.

4. Noise pollution. Residents are already disturbed by noise from sporting events at the stadium. All the evidence suggests this will increase.

5. Litter and other anti-social behaviour. There are no substantial proposals to deal with anti-social behaviour outside the stadium perimeter save stewards who will have no legal powers to deal with incidents.

6. Green Belt and Open Space. Green Belt Planning Policy Guidance (PPG2) requires that ‘very special circumstances’ should be demonstrated where permission is to be given to develop within the Green Belt. The Mayor’s London Plan asserts that the construction of new buildings, and changes of use of existing land and buildings, within the Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land, unless there are very special circumstances, will be inappropriate, except for the following purposes: i) Agriculture, horticulture and woodland; ii) Nature conservation and wildlife use; or iii) Essential facilities for outdoor sport and recreation.

I do not believe there are either special circumstances or a need for additional essential facilities at Copthall which justify the development which is being proposed.

In summary, I believe Saracens’ proposed development at Barnet Copthall is unsuitable, being on the Green Belt in a highly residential area. The effects of such a development would have a severely detrimental impact on the quality of life of thousands of local residents. The Travel Plan does not adequately address either the poor access to public transport or provision for private vehicles and the current parking and traffic problems would be significantly exacerbated.

This application is now being looked at by the Planning Authority (Barnet Council) and I understand is not expected to be considered by the Planning Committee before September.


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