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EPR housing scheme in Barnet draws more than 900 objections

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An application by EPR Architects for 652 homes in New Barnet has received over 900 objections on the local council’s planning portal

EPR is proposing 15 buildings between one and 10 storeys tall on the site of a former British Gas facility on Albert Road.

The Victoria Quarter scheme is being developed by Fairview New Homes and One Housing and would contain 35 per cent affordable housing, as well as 330m² of retail space, 110m² of community space and 392 car parking spaces.

Barnet Council consented a 305-home scheme by DLA Design for the site back in 2015, with amendments by Levitt Bernstein later being approved in 2017.

But EPR’s plans to ramp up the number of homes on the site have received 909 comments from people objecting to the plans, and just 23 comments in support of the proposals.

Criticism of the scheme has been led by local residents’ groups and taken up by Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers.

Objections have focused on the scheme’s height and bulk, its concentration of one and two-bedroom flats at the expense of three and four-bedroom homes, its alleged insufficient provision of outdoor space and the pressure extra residents would put on local services.

The Barnet Society, a local residents’ group which previously supported plans for 305 homes on the site, said the proposed scheme was a ‘massive overdevelopment of the site and not a design of quality’ in a blog post earlier this month.

‘Given that the green belt is 450m away, this will make the edge of New Barnet like a fortress, rather than a predominantly low-rise and permeable fringe,’ it added.

Last week, Villiers used a parliamentary session for questions to the housing secretary to ask whether ‘rejecting overdevelopment on brownfield sites like Victoria Quarter’ was important for ‘protecting the suburban environment’, however the minister declined to comment on the specific application.

But James Everitt, main board director at EPR Architects, hit back at the suggestion of overdevelopment. ‘Given the acute shortage of affordable housing across London, the site and its proposed development provide a much-needed and meaningful contribution towards London’s housing needs,’ he said.

‘Surrounded by a railway embankment, a gasworks site and the Victoria Recreation Ground, the scheme’s height and massing has been carefully considered in conjunction with officers at Barnet Council to ensure there is little impact on the surrounding residential areas.

‘With landscaping at its heart, our vision for a new suburban neighbourhood provides a coherent and legible network of green pedestrian routes, streets and public spaces of varying character,’ he added.

‘A series of courtyard blocks, pavilion buildings and formal mansion blocks are centred around a beautifully landscaped public square, which seamlessly unites the neighbourhood with the surrounding parkland to create a community-focused space for both new and wider residents.’

Fairview New Homes and One Housing have been invited to comment. 

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • Some unfortunate similarities with PLP's Westferry Printworks 'double your money' project, so maybe it was a relief for the Minister that he could decline to comment on the specific application.
    Could it be that the 'acute shortage of affordable housing across London' provides developers with ready-made political leverage for seeking massive increases in housing density, of the tower block variety?
    That acute shortage couldn't have anything to do with the pressures created by the trading of London housing on the international commodities market, could it?

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  • It is a great shame that at no stage did the developer or EPR enter into any meaningful dialogue with the community who worked so hard to deliver the previous consented scheme of 371 homes designed by Levitt Bernstein. The local community have carried out a detailed design review of the EPR scheme which you can read here http://www.newbarnet.org.uk/news/snbappraisalofdesign12jun20.pdf and found it compared unfavourably to the Levitt Bernstein scheme. We all recognise the need for homes which is why the community fought so hard for the consented scheme. However, this proposed scheme, with blocks as close as 11 metres between habitable rooms, sums up everything that is wrong with a target driven approach to housing. It appears that cramped poor quality accommodation with insufficient amenity space is okay as long as there are plenty of them. New Barnet is a quiet suburb on the edge of the green belt not central London. This scheme is all about money and nothing to do with decent homes.

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  • Irrespective of the points above, good luck EPR in Barnett. The worst Planning Authority I've ever dealt with for a multiple apartment scheme. The officers didn't know their own policies, the statisticians thought they had enough sites allocated and we proved they didn't, and the valuers used advertised prices, ie inflated, rather than sold prices to prove the case for social housing. Total shambles that took a successful appeal to do their work for them.

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