Wednesday 21 July 2021

Barnet Council claim their own planning requirements cause "environmental concerns"

If you have ever wondered how seriously Barnet Council take enforcement of planning conditions, this blog may be of interest.

The National Institutue for Medical Research site in Mill Hill is being redeveloped by Barratts PLC. 

The most recent planning permission is available here, it has rigorous conditions attached to ensure minimal impact on residents and the local environment

This states
9 The development shall be implemented in accordance with details approved within the Air Quality and Dust Management Plan approved under condition reference 17/8152/CON of the extant consent (Planning Ref 16/4545/FUL), unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority. Within any amendment to the approved details, reference shall be made to the Mayor of London's SPG, "The Control of Dust and Emissions during Construction and Demolition". The plan shall confirm: a. which air quality emission and dust control measures are to be implemented; b. which monitoring methods are to be implemented; and c. that construction machinery will meet NRMM standards Reason: To comply with the London Plan's SPG on Sustainable Design and Construction (2014) and Policy 7.14 of the London Plan (2016).

The guidance that covers dust suppression is as follows (links on GLA site at )

5.39 Vehicles – in particular wheels – should be washed or cleaned before leaving the site. At low risk sites, this might be by means of hosing, but at most sites wheel wash facilities should be installed, preferably with the application of rumble grids to dislodge accumulated dust and mud. Ideally the route from the wheel wash to the public road should be a paved. Where layout permits, the site access gates should
be located at least 10m from receptors

It could not be clearer. The site must have a proper system for washing and cleaning vehicles in place to proceed. So what is happening in reality? Well here are a few tweets posted over the last year, tell me if you think this condition is being adhered to?

And just to show that this has been going on for a couple of years

It is pretty clear that the requirements of the GLA regulations are not being adhered to. You may ask why this has not been reported to Barnet Council, who are legally obliged to enforce these rules. The answer is, they have. Myself and other residents and business owners have repeatedly, all to no avail. Today, after repeated emails etc, I finally received an email from the manager of Scientific Services for Barnet, who is allegedly dealing with the issues raised by the NIMR development. I won't name him, to spare his blushes, but he stated

Mr Tichborne,

Thank you for the photos.                   


Unfortunately wheel washes recycle water and so they never leave muddy wheels 100% clean, it is possible to jet wash wheels as they leave sites but this also creates debris in the run off on the road and this uses a lot of water – which is an environmental concern in itself.


The site uses road sweepers so the most recent photo and twitter photo 29th May ( I cant access twitter on this computer)show a thin fine layer of the dust in the tarmacadam but no significant debris. Road sweepers are reasonably efficient in removing larger debris and grit, but the brushes do get stained with fine mud so they never leave roads completely clean hence the pictures. This is similar to what we usually witness when we visit, no significant amounts of mud grit and debris but some fine staining of the tarmacadam.


I note in the U tube video one car was very dusty but not outside a house, it was probably  parked near the site entrances  probably on Burtonhole lane.

Judges have ruled that dust on cars is not a formal nuisance, it has to affect habitable parts of premises, so if there are photos of that amount of dust affecting the facades of residential houses please show this.

We are visiting this later this week to check around Wentworth Hall one of the nearest premises to the site entrances where works are happening, and we will look at the current state of the site.

So there you have it. According to the manager in charge of scientific services, washing wheels, a GLA requirement is an 'environmental concern'.  This response is, to be quite frank, completely ridiculous. It took me five minutes to google a suitable washing system. Given the GLA recommend that this should be located 10 metres from the highway, it is absolutely clear that if this was properly installed, the issues raised by the Barnet Manager would simply not exist.  

There are only two possible explanations for what has been written above. The first is that the planning department and the GLA are recommending mitigations that are not environmentally sound. If this is the case, it should be a matter of urgent public concern and should be resolved as quickly as possible. The other alternative is that the manager of Scientific Services think that the public should be treated with disdain and that it really is none of their business what the council are doing with regards to enforcement. 

I am very annoyed. This manager has repeatedly asked for photos I have stopped on several occasions to take them. I've sent them to the council, as have many other residents. I have now been told that all of this effort was pointless, because wheel washing would create environmental concerns. 

I am not going to leave this here. Firstly it is the GLA's guidance that states wheel washing must be done. I will be contacting our local GLA representative to clarify whether the GLA are recommending planning conditions that raise environmental concerns. I will also be escalating this to the CEO of Barnet Council, the Leader, and the chair of both planning and Environment committees, as well as opposition leaders. 

Barnet Council are not taking enforcement seriously. This results in shoddy practice. I want this to stop. I hope you do too.  Does this really look like a 'fine coat of dust' to you?

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