Dear Dr Offord,
It is a little while since my last ‘Mill Hill Special’ e- update, and as there has been quite a lot going
on ( as always in NW7 ), I thought I should write to bring you up to date, as this will be the last
chance to do so as we move into the London election campaign proper: I am standing again to be
your London Assembly member on 5th May.
Land next to Mill Hill cemetery: developers’ appeal As I hope you know, the original scheme for
the land- a mausoleum – was refused; as was the developers’ subsequent second application for
access points, a maintenance building, internal roads and so on, for a more traditional cemetery.
The developers have now appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. If, like me you objected to the
scheme, I would urge you to renew your previous objections, or indeed make new ones, by emailing TeamPNI@pins.gsi.gov.uk. All representations must be received by 13 April 2016. and must
quote the appeal reference: APP/N5090/W/16/3145010 I am working with local residents on this,
and expect I will submit a further objection, which I will publish on my website in due course.
Risk of Green Belt housing development While I am writing about a Green Belt site, under a
recent Government consultation, planning rules protecting the Green Belt are set to be weakened:
‘We consider that the current policy can hinder locally-led housing development and propose to
amend national planning policy so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale
sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes, with neighbourhood areas having the
discretion to determine the scope of a small-scale site.’ (para 49) I believe that if this change
goes ahead, it will inevitably be the thin end of the wedge and would signal an end to the c
ountryside round areas like and Mill Hill .
Thameslink to be transferred to Transport for London - but not till 2021 I am sure you will
have heard of the Government decision to transfer control of suburban rail lines to TfL as part
of the Overground network, but questions remain as to why it will take until 2021 for Thameslink
to be moved over. Thameslink is the most unpopular railway line in the whole country and
I have been calling for such action for a number of years now, as the service has gone from
bad to worse. A survey of residents I conducted last year showed overwhelming support for
the plan. There was a golden opportunity to move Thameslink to TfL last year, when the f
ranchise came up for renewal, but the Government franchise was awarded to Govia- TfL
was not even allowed to bid. There must be a strong case to cancel the franchise due to such
poor performance and I am supporting the local residents’ petition to this effect: – “Remove t
he Thameslink franchise from Govia Thameslink now, not in 2021.” Click this link to see the
petition and start sharing it: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119480
Thameslink Mill Hill station Thameslink are planning to close down their ticket offices, much
as the Mayor of London has been closing tube station ticket offices. They say staff will be more
visible on the station concourse and able provide information and be available to help passengers
with all aspects of their journey, including helping customers use ticket machines and selling
tickets from a station hosting point and from their own handheld devices. They say no ticket
offices will close immediately and they are now working with London Travel Watch and
Transport Focus to review feedback and share findings. We shall see! Ticket barriers are
also being introduced, apparently on the instruction of the Department for Transport as all
revenue goes direct to the DfT. Because Mill Hill Broadway is known for fare evasion as there
have been no barriers to date, the Government are putting the barriers in to protect their revenue.
It seems passenger comfort and safety are not a priority for them as this will exacerbate the
already massive congestion problems at the station, especially when passengers get off the
trains in the evening. There has been no progress to report over step free access.
Mill Hill East station I’ve regularly raised the need for an upgrade and especially step free
access at the tube station. At the last Mayor’s Question Time before we shut down for the
London elections, answering my question, the Mayor said: ‘There is already an identified
scheme and funding strategy in place for step free access at Mill Hill East. The release of this
third party funding is dictated by the Planning Consent for an adjacent residential development
and the supporting Section 106 agreement, which will only release funds according to
development profitability thresholds. Discussions with the developer have indicated that
this profitability threshold could be achieved by the early 2020s.’
Clearly this is a very long time to wait to see if there are any excess profits from the Millbrook
Park development, which is the the third party funding source to which he refers. Last year,
the City Hall Regeneration Committee on which I sit investigated the Mayor’s designated ‘Areas
for Greater Intensification’, one of which is Mill Hill East, which we visited . In our report ,we
said areas selected as I.A.s must have adequate transport infrastructure, referring to Mill Hill East
as an example: The Mayor’s response was ‘I have not seen any evidence that the current level of
transport accessibility is holding back development ‘ Which was not really the question, as the
impact on the wider community was what we were concerned about.
Finchley Central station lift works 12 April until late May From 12 April until late May, TfL
will be undertaking maintenance work on the lift that serves the northbound Northern line
platforms, (Lift 2) with services to High Barnet and Mill Hill East. During this time, there
will be no step-free access to and from the northbound platforms. There will continue to
be step-free access to and from the southbound platforms. During the lift works, they are
advising customers who are starting their journey at Finchley Central to take bus 326 for
step-free services from West Finchley, Woodside Park and High Barnet. Customers
completing their journey at Finchley Central are advised to continue to High Barnet and
take a southbound train to Finchley Central. Of course, if you were relying on step free,
it wouldn’t help much when you get to Mill Hill East!
Train/bus coordination at Mill Hill East (or lack of it). Yet again, I raised with the Mayor
the unsatisfactory and unacceptable lack of train/bus coordination at Mill Hill East . Bus drivers
are expected to keep an eye out for interchanging passengers at all times and where it is clear
that passengers require the bus service they would be expected to accommodate them. The
Mayor said: ‘On high frequency routes such as routes 240 and 221, passengers who have
just disembarked from the station are unlikely to need to wait very long for the next bus. A
long dwell time at this stop will impact on passengers already on that bus. Therefore drivers
are expected to use their discretion. However, I have asked TfL to raise this with the operator
again.’ Bus services more generally Hertfordshire County Council have cut £390,000 of funding
to Transport for London which helps run the 107, 142, 292 and 298 bus routes, on top of an
even bigger cut last year. I have been pressing the Mayor and TfL to say whether these routes
will see the funding picked up by TfL, to maintain these services. Neither the Mayor nor tfL have
been prepared to give a straight answer other than to say ‘TfL will review all the possible
options taking account of cross boundary travel and TfL's overall funding outlook.’ Any
proposed changes will be subject to consultation. I have also raised the need for improved
public transport services for the future residents of Millbrook Park. At present, TfL say over 160
passengers per day use the route 382 service north of Mill Hill. TfL will continue to monitor
demand on this service, including liaising with Barnet Council over the progress of the Millbrook
Park development, to understand the scale of future demand in the area. I raised the location in
Flower Lane of the bus stop that had been moved in front of the church in October 2012, so as
to enable developers’ construction work to take place. At the time it was expected that the stop
would be returned to its old site when the building works were completed. Due to the siting of a
service entrance to the new development this is now not possible and the bus stop will stay where
it is. TfL did agree, though, to install a new bus shelter.
Holders Hill Circus After much digging, I have now finally established that there are no plans
for new zebra crossings on Dollis Road or Devonshire Road at the roundabout junction as there
are no funds for them. We were originally led to believe that the Millbrook Park developer was to
pay for them out of ‘excess profits’ ( again) , but this is not the case. They were required to pay
for improvements to the existing crossings on Bittacy Hill and Holders Hill Road, but it looks like
the council forgot to include these new and needed ones as well.
Mill Hill Circus TfL is developing proposals at Mill Hill Circus to reduce congestion at the
junction, which plans seem to have been pretty bogged down. A transfer of land between
the London Borough of Barnet and TfL is required as part of the proposed road capacity
increase. To enable this, LB Barnet has now made a statutory declaration to the Land Registry
over a strip of untitled land. Subject to the land availability being confirmed, public consultation
is planned to take place in late 2016. Stirling Corner I have been pressing the case for further
improvements to Stirling Corner, especially for pedestrians. A design for a fully signalised
pedestrian facility across the A1 on the southern side of Stirling Corner roundabout is currently
being assessed through traffic modelling by TfL. Initial results indicate that the proposals will
not cause adverse impacts on the operation of the junction or the A1. Public consultation is
expected to take place in late 2016.
Mill Hill Broadway and Sound Absorbing Solar Panels The programme to provide Sound
Absorbing Solar Panels alongside the M40 at High Wycombe is making progress, so I asked
the Mayor if he would lobby the Highways Agency for similar devices along the section of
the M1 between Scratchwood Services & Fiveways Corner, because the motorway
closely dissects Mill Hill Town Centre, with a high effect on noise and air pollution. The Mayor
said he had asked TfL to check with Highways England whether it has any plans to implement
similar measures on the M1 between Scratchwood Services and Fiveways Corner and would
come back to me: he hasn’t so far!
Millbrook Park When the City Hall Regeneration Committee visited Millbrook Park, I for
one was very surprised about the slow pace of the development, with the current building
of 2100 homes taking from 2012 until 2026, which averages about 150 a year – and then
with only 15% ‘affordable’ even under the Mayor and Government definition (which is
not actually affordable to most people in housing need). The developers said it was down
to the problem of finding sufficient skilled construction workers, but also let slip that there
were some grounds for us suspecting that the progress is slow as it keeps the prices of the
homes high. Such a slow build programme also means that those living near the development
will have to wait for the necessary infrastructure changes ( such as at the tube station) to be
delivered, and suffer the construction traffic for far longer than they should. As the roads
within Millbrook Park are not being adopted by the council, it remains the responsibility of
the Management Company to installs a cycle lane on Inglis Way- though they show no signs
of being willing to do so. Barnet Council could have required them to do so if it was in the
original Masterplan- but it wasn’t.
Planning: site to the west of Northway and Fairway Primary School This scheme is the
council’s own plan for provide 120 residential units (Use Class C3) comprising 45 houses
(2-3 storeys) and two apartment blocks (3-4 storeys). I spoke at the Planning Committee
in support of my own objections and those of the Mill Hill Preservation Society, primarily
about traffic, parking, the loss of trees and hedgerows, design and the scale of the plan.
The Planning Committee approved the scheme despite objections.
Planning: Edgwarebury Golf Course application Whilst not strictly in Mill Hill, I know
that many Mill Hill residents were concerned about the implications of this scheme, to
build an exclusive golf course on Bury Farm. I attended and spoke against the application
at the Planning Committee, which for once I am pleased to say refused the application.
Planning : Hasmonean High School Hasmonean High School are looking to merge their two
sites onto one campus off Page Street. The plan is to sell the site of the Boys School on
Holders Hill Road and build a new combined school on Page Street, though I expect they
would have separate boys and girls schools within the campus. This does raise concerns
over traffic in Page St. and has implications for Green Belt development, but no planning
application has yet been submitted.
Planning : Pentavia On the existing Pentavia retail park site, developers are planning a
scheme with up to 850 flats in buildings up to 12 storeys high. All the flats would be for
rent at open market rates and there is no provision for affordable homes. I consider this to
be a most undesirable scheme, involving the loss of retail and leisure uses on the site and
consequent loss of jobs. The location is not conducive to such a residential development
and would inevitably lead to an unstable community of short term renters. It would also
have an impact on rent levels nearby too. Whilst the planning application has yet to be
submitted, I anticipate submitting objections to it in due course.
I hope you have found this update of interest: if you have any questions please let me know.
This will be my last ‘Mill Hill special’ this side of the London elections, where I hope to
be re-elected as your London Assembly member, to enable me to resume normal service.
Andrew Dismore AMwww.andrewdismore.org.uk
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden