Thursday, 25 July 2019

Barnet Council withdraws designation of Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum

Last night, the planning committee of Barnet Council withdrew official designation of the Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum. The forum was set up five years ago to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for Mill Hill. As this has not been delivered by the Forum, and various local residents had raised concerns regarding safeguarding and governance, the council had no choice but to remove the designation. The Barnet Eye supported the creation of the forum and recognised the urgent need for a robust neighbourhood plan.  Sadly it had become clear to us that the forum lacked the focus to deliver the plan. Too many other plans and schemes were developed and the primary objective of the organisation was continually put to one side whilst the chair pursued pet schemes that were good ideas, but should have been managed under a subcommittee, leaving the main committee to develop the plan. It also became clear to us that the whilst the committee had some excellent people involved, there was inadequate engagement and involvement with the wider community.

The Barnet Eye believes that a Neighbourhood plan is urgently needed and that a new committee needs to be formulated as a matter of urgency to put it together. The mistakes of the old Forum should not be repeated. The committee should have co-opted members from all of the main local organisations, including faith based organisations (Churches, Shul, etc), local schools, local organisations (Mill Hill Preservation Society, Mill Hill Residents Association, Mill Hill Services Club), local sports clubs (Saracens, Mill Hill Village, Mill Hill Rugby Club, Mill Hill Golf Club, Barnet Copthall Swimming and Diving club, Shaftesbury Harriers), Doctors surgeries, major local businesses and the local council. Local Councillors should also be represented.

A proper register of local community assets should be central to the plan. It was unfortunate that the Diving Pool at Copthall has not yet been funded. Such assets should be central to the plan. One of the reasons that it is vital that local schools are represented is that teachers need to be able to live in affordable housing, near to their place of employment. Schools are also at the sharp end of many of the social issues affecting society, so they should be at the forefront of drawing up the plan. Ensuring that sufficient affordable housing is a key to ensuring a successful community. Safeguarding and preserving sports facilities should also be a primary objective.

There is always a tendency for people to champion "Grand schemes" in plans. I happen to believe that there is plenty of scope for major improvements in Mill Hill without any such schemes. There are already major housing developments in Millbrook Park and the NIMR site. The Watchtower development will also soon be starting. There is some scope for better use of the space which is Mill Hill Broadway Station car park. Originally the council purchased this in the 1970's to build a multi storey car park, but this was never realised. We'd like to see more parking on the site and maybe a cinema or other such amenities, possibly with some housing. We believe that this should be no more than five storeys high and of a design in keeping with the best of Mill Hill. By digging down, the car parking elements could be underground.
Pentavia Scheme

We would also support an expansion of Saracens, so long as this continued to accommodate the Shaftesbury Harriers and I would insist that funding for the diving pool be part of the scheme. I believe that a world class, multi discipline, sports facility would be amazing for Mill Hill.

The Pentavia scheme is up before the Mayor of London today. We sincerely hope that he approves a scheme that is no more than six storeys high and has increased amenity for Mill Hill.

Old Railway from Mill Hill to Edgware
We also would like to see serious action taken to improve public transport in Mill Hill. An extension of The Northern Line to Saracens would seem to us to be a no brainer. This was a railway  until 1964, so it would simply mean putting back into use a great amenity. We would also like to see the West London Orbital Railway extended to Mill Hill Broadway, with a stop at The Royal Air Force Museum. It would theoretically be possible to extend this to Edgware over the old disused railway. This would give all manner of interchange options.

Another objective should be to improve air quality, especially around the Mill Hill Bus station, which has high levels of pollution and I believe it is criminal that school children are exposed to this whilst waiting for buses. There are three contributing factors. The first is the buses running diesel engines whilst parked. The second is the fallout from the M1 and the Railway, where diesel particulates, which are heavier than air build up. The third is the lack of air movement, as the station is in a culvert that limits air movements. The obvious answer is to not have the bus stops in such a place.

Mill Hill has some very important green spaces, is designated green belt and has a conservation area. We need to make the protection for these spaces as robust as possible.

Any schemes for Mill Hill have to take into account the infrastructure in the area. That is why we need local NHS representation and feedback for the plan. In short, a joined up, holistic plan that all of Mill Hill can buy into. I rather hope that everyone agrees with me that we should learn the lessons of the last five years and get on with it. I have no wish to be the chair of any such committee, but I will give it my full support.


Unknown said...

We can't take any more housing development in mill hill now the mayor has increased the load at Pentavia... And the traffic load from that will cripple the area local to the Broadway unless they also provide a supermarket and other amenities on-site Really like the ideas for more transport infrastructure... We also need to encourage a wider variety of shops beyond the restaurants, cafes and nail bars/ hair salons ..

Unknown said...

yet more traffic in Mill Hill from another development at Pentavia, its turning into a nightmare in and around Mill Hill , and by the way a lot of the old rail line from Mill Hill east has now been built on...!! i can honestly say that living in Mill Hill is horrible now ,it is over developed with not a thought to ,schools, Doctors , roads,extra police, the people that do the planning must be off their heads with drugs or something.