Whalebones Park planning application comments (September 2019)

WHALEBONES PARK PLANNING APPLICATION 19/3949/FUL

COMMENT FROM BARNET RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

This is a comment in support

We do recognise that development on a recognised green space in the Conservation Area is not something that should be too readily accepted. But after considering the many factors both in support and against the development we have concluded that on balance we do support the proposal.

A key factor we considered is that whilst the site is currently fallow land apart from the area where poultry are kept, and indeed now features substantial wildlife, historically it was a working farm. As such the current fallow state is a historical anomaly and this land should be recognised as being appropriate for human activity. We are also aware that the Trustees wish to dispose of the site and close down the Trust. So it is inevitable that there must be change, and it would seem highly likely that would again involve significant human activity. Any ideas for alternative use would have to be both viable and acceptable to the Trustees and we are not aware that any viable alternatives have been put forward. We see no reason to dispute the assessment in the application that the land could not be economically used again for farming.

It is also the case that the site is not accessible to the public and because of extensive boundary screening views are very restricted. Thus, whilst the site does indeed offer a ‘green lung’, supports bio-diversity and is valued as an open space in a developed area, the advantages are of limited value

Within the overall area of Whalebones Park, both Whalebones House and the farm cottage, each with extensive wooded areas, will remain untouched. With these areas added to that designated in the Application as parkland and recreational use, approaching 60% of the overall site area will remain ‘green’. Positive aspects include the planting of 165 new trees and the parkland, managed by the well-resourced Land Trust, will put emphasis on encouraging wildlife and flora. Overall the extra trees should make a significant contribution to pollution control, whilst residents, and staff, visitors and patients from the Hospital should derive substantial benefit from the opening up of much of the site as parkland, including the ability to admire views which are currently restricted.

Turning now to the housing development, we do have reservations regarding the density and especially the size of the three blocks of flats to the eastern boundary, and we would have preferred more small family houses rather than a majority of flats. But we do consider the architecture to be of good quality and with a maximum height of four storeys at the lowest point, and being consistently a little lower than the adjacent Elmbank development, we consider the height will not be unduly intrusive. The housing area will also have extensive landscaping which should substantially soften the impact. We note that Highways have no reservations regarding traffic, and indeed pedestrian access to the Hospital and the bus terminus should offer significant employment and public transport opportunities that substantially reduce demand for car travel.

Development in conservation areas is permissible provided Councils ensure any development meets the obligation to ‘preserve and enhance’. On balance, accepting that change is inevitable, we consider the advantages offered by this development outweigh the disadvantages, especially as the areas remaining ‘green’ will offer the community greater amenity value than is the case now. And if the application is turned down we will have continuing uncertainly until an alternative use is found, which could conceivably be far less appealing than what is now being proposed.

Barnet Residents Association
September 2019