Arkley residents against Elmbank project

Written by  Tuesday, 09 February 2016 15:42
Serena Rushton of Stop the Over Development of Arkley outside the Elmbank site on Barnet Road Serena Rushton of Stop the Over Development of Arkley outside the Elmbank site on Barnet Road
SODA – Stop the Over Development of Arkley – is a new campaign group established by local residents to campaign against plans to build what they say are too many flats and houses on the Elmbank site, opposite the Arkley public house.

After failing three times to get the approval of the Chipping Barnet planning committee, Linden Homes’ application to construct 93 flats and 21 houses has now been referred to a meeting of Barnet Council’s area planning committee on 24 February.

In the first week since its launch, SODA’s Facebook page attracted 25 likes, and Serena Rushton, one of the campaign’s organisers, is confident support will grow once local residents realise the full impact of a development that they are convinced is far too dense for the site, and will lead to problems with parking and road safety.

If Linden Homes does obtain planning approval it will demolish the derelict and fire-ravaged former nurses’ homes that have disfigured the site for many years and replace them with 93 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, and 21 three-, four- and five-bedroom houses. (24 units would be for affordable housing; 14 for affordable renting; and 10 for shared ownership).

The 3.9 acre Elmbank site extends south from its frontage on Barnet Road (A411) to just north of Barnet Hospital buildings in Wellhouse Lane, and backs on to houses in Elmbank Avenue and also to fields alongside the farm holding at Whalebones Park.

Mrs Rushton, who lives in Galley Lane, said local residents believed that not only was the density of the proposed new homes too high, but that the development would pose dangers for road safety on Barnet Road, and create considerable congestion.

...not only was the density of the proposed new homes too high, but that the development would pose dangers for road safety on Barnet Road,

Linden Homes had allocated only 155 parking space for the entire development: 129 parking spaces for a total of 93 flats and 21 houses, together with 26 unallocated spaces for visitors, and increase of 20 on the six originally proposed.

“We think this is nowhere near sufficient for car parking bearing in mind that many of the flats will have two or three bedrooms, and there are going to be three-, four- and five-bedroom houses.

“There is already huge pressure on off-street parking around the Arkley public house and also in the surrounding roads, because of the huge increase in the number of visitors to Barnet Hospital.

“Linden Homes have now offered to pay £10,000 towards the cost assessing and implementing a possible controlled parking zone in Barnet Road, and at the top of Galley Lane, but that would only lead to even more parking on nearby roads.”

The other issue of concern is that the single approach road to the site would be off Barnet Road, almost opposite the entrance to the Arkley’s car park.

“The junction with Elmbank Avenue and Barnet Road is already an accident black spot and to have another junction so close will pose an additional hazard.”

Mrs Rushton said the residents accepted that the derelict nurses’ homes and offices had turned the Elmbank site into a local eyesore, and there was a case for redeveloping the site, but there was not the space to fit in 114 homes.

“This can only be done by building blocks of flats, but until now flats haven’t been allowed in Arkley, and this development will set a precedent.”

In recommending approval for Linden Homes’ application, the area planning office says the development would have “an acceptable impact on the character and appearance of the site, street scene and locality” and would not have “an adverse impact on the amenities of neighbouring occupiers.”

Conditions for approval include a £15,000 contribution by Linden Homes for pedestrian crossing facilities in Barnet Road; £10,000 for a study for waiting restrictions in Barnet Road and Galley Lane; and £15,000 to produce a travel plan to reduce private car use.

SODA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SODA-Stop-Overdevelopment-Arkley-1527083104288948/

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17 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 09 February 2016 16:33 posted by Serena Rushton, SODA Campaign

    SODA (Stop Overdevelopment Arkley) Campaign are delighted to have been given the opportunity to be featured in the Barnet Society site and to highlight our concerns.

    We would like to clarify that the £10,000 referred to in the article in relation to the cost of assessing and implementing CPZ has been taken from an earlier Planning Officer's report. Subsequent to that report, Linden increased this sum and offered a £50k voluntary contribution towards funding of a CPZ consultation and implementation. We are pleased that this shows some recognition of some of the issues which will arise from the is development, however, as stated in the article, CPZ will not resolve the issues arising from the density of the development. It is understood that residents on the Elmbank site would not be eligible to park within the CPZ scheme so the issue of the additional parking generated from the site would remain unresolved.

    Furthermore, it is understood that the precise scope of the area for the CPZ consultation would be finalised at a later stage by the Highways Service, so at this time, there is no confirmation as to which roads will be included in the consultation.

    We also heard at the Chipping Barnet Planning Committee last Thursday, 4 February, that the voluntary offer relating to the CPZ was not something which could be considered by the Councillors in relation to the planning application. Furthermore, Councillors were told that there was no way to ensure that the funds received would go towards roads affected by this development.

    CPZ is only one aspect of this development. Our main concerns relating to the density, road safety, transport, parking and character of the area. Once flats have been built on this site, other developers will rely on this decision.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 09 February 2016 18:06 posted by Jenny Petch

    Notice no one comments on the added pressure these developments are putting on the other things like schools and other services ! There is already too much development in Barnet for the town to cope with!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 09 February 2016 18:39 posted by Serena Rushton, SODA Campaign

    Completely share your concerns: SODA has been highlighting the concerns of residents, which does include the further pressure on already over burdened education & medical providers which this development will cause.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 09 February 2016 20:03 posted by Tim Webster

    Nimby twats. Homes not moans.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 09 February 2016 20:31 posted by Serena Rushton, SODA Campaign

    Thanks for your constructive comments Tim Webster (!)

    The argument that concerned residents are nimbys is both simplistic and uninformed. People are, of course, entitled to an opinion, but review the facts first.

    Residents are not against development. We are concerned about overdevelopment. Surrounding roads are already choked by hospital parking and ambulances cannot get through.

    Tim Webster, if you want to have a proper debate about the development, would like to hear the arguments in support of compromised road function and safety, increased congestion, and longer waiting lists for schools and medical services.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 10 February 2016 10:15 posted by David R

    Tim Webster, do you live in the surrounding area? If not then your comments have no weight. There have been a number of fatalities on Barnet road recently not to mention the speeding police and ambulances that use Barnet Road. You are entitled to your opinion, but perhaps as Serena said, make sure you get your facts right.

    Linden Homes are looking to maximise their profit by over developing the site. We are all in favour of the development per se, but NOT as put forward by Linden Homes. The area in question is simply too small to absorb SO MANY dwellings. There are limited schools and amenities in the area and the extra 114 dwellings will add immense pressure to the schools, hospitals and social services (I have made this point in my objection letter to Barnet Council).

    We are asking that Linden Homes comes back with another proposal. Arkley does not have flats (Character) and their proposal will change the character of Arkley for ever.

    Having one tight entry and exit point into/onto Barnet Road poses immeasurable dangers for drivers given the blind spot where the access point is. Linden Homes must ensure there is another entry/exit to alleviate these dangers. I know of at least 5 accidents on the corner or Elmbank/Barnet Road as cars have been unable to stop in time and gone careering into the corner house (wall).

    Linden Homes MUST put safety, character and Density (issues) ahead of their profits. After all, once they have finished the development they move onto the next development leaving the local residents to pick up the pieces and deal with the fall out.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 10 February 2016 11:02 posted by Serena Rushton, SODA Campaign

    *** PLEASE SIGN OUR E-PETITION ***

    JUST RECEIVED THE LINK FOR OUR E-PETITION:

    http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/SODA-Elmbank/

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 10 February 2016 23:05 posted by Tim Webster

    There's nothing simplistic about my rounded and well-reasoned argument above. However, this country is in the midst of a housing crisis. Unless house building is ramped-up significantly (combined with help-to-buy schemes) then young people will be trapped in extortionate rented accommodation at the mercy of money-grubbing landlords. Sacrifices - like the Whalebones 'park' - need to be made. The congestion and road safety argument is a non-starter. Barnet's roads are already congested at peak times and a few more houses won't make a difference. High Barnet needs more schools, but it has done for years. Perhaps increased demand will finally shake the dullard council into action. Medical services: the NHS is underfunded on a national level - this is Tory policy - and a few houses either way in Barnet is not going to make a dent in waiting lists or appointment times.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 10 February 2016 23:06 posted by Elm Bank

    "rounded & well reasoned"? How exactly do you assert that given your profanely expressed comment with no reasoning at all to back it.. I invite you to read the article and reasons we are objecting which include, among others road safety, density, lack of amenities. Your assertion as to "a few houses" "not going to make a dent" is, again, incorrect. The development proposed will have a huge impact. It is not our subjective view that this development is over dense, the national adopted policy on habitable rooms per hectare also corroborates that this is the case. As to your other argument that services are already overstretched & parking & congestion are already bad: I just want to clarify that your solution is to take a bad situation & make it worse? In relation to additional housing, I have no argument that houses are needed, but the development has to be suitable and sustainable. You can be dismissive of our concerns, but the reality is that you have not taken the time to understand the concerns. By your logic, we should build everywhere & there is no value in environment, character, density, transport, safety, services. I can only arrive at the same conclusion: your view is uninformed & simplistic.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 February 2016 10:01 posted by Simon

    The bottom line is we have a population which is growing by a million every 3 years.
    5,000 acres of green belt land lost to housing development every year.
    32 million cars on the road now, a number which will increase to 40 million in 10 years.
    Very depressing statistics.
    This country is being concreted over at a depressing and alarming rate.
    Forget local and national politics, the above statistics detail why no amount of house building will satisfy demand.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 February 2016 21:41 posted by rob

    I agree with Tim on this, London has a housing crisis and kneejerk reactions to any and all housing development - which seems to be the case here - doesn't help. It seems that any change automatically gets objected to.

    We're objecting to developing this site which is a run down eyesore, objecting to redeveloping industrial space in the town center and objecting to developing a bit of farmland with no public access that sits between a hospital and the busy wood st.

    I agree that Wood St/Barnet Rd is a dangerous and polluted road - I live on it and I see people speeding at 50mph down it all the time. If you really want to do something about pollution and speeding on the roads campaign about that - this small housing development will make little difference to a road that has north of 20,000 cars a day travelling on it...> http://www.howpollutedismyroad.org.uk/

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 February 2016 22:17 posted by rob

    I dug out the figures from the DoT on this stretch of road > http://www.dft.gov.uk/traffic-counts/cp.php?la=Barnet#37121 (as the link in my post above seems to have a bug in it now). On the closest data point which is near the hospital, there are:

    23,102 motor vehicles PER DAY travelling on the road.
    Made up of:
    386 HGVs
    752 buses
    20,490 cars and taxis

    A few houses and flats on this development will make very little difference to the pollution and safety on this road.

    If you have an issue with pollution and safety it would make more sense set up a campaign on this issue and the much wider range of causes.

    A campaign to slow drivers down on this road for instance will have a much bigger impact on these problems than objecting to a relatively small new development.

  • Comment Link Friday, 12 February 2016 10:11 posted by Serena Rushton, SODA Campaign

    Thanks for the information Rob. With respect, a large number of residents do not consider this to be "a few houses and flats": it's 114 dwellings, only 17 of those are one bed rooms, the rest are 2, 3, 4 & 5 bed occupancy. The crucial point is that it is a big development FOR ARKLEY.

    I'm not sure if you have viewed the plans online, but if you have you will see that the single access and egress point is onto the very same dangerous road that you have referred to & highlighted statistics above. You say you live on that road so you know that there is a blind bend on the approach from High Barnet and it is close to the junction at the top of Galley Lane, as well as being opposite the pub car park and round the corner from an accident spot at the junction with Elmbank Avenue. So I do not accept that it will make little difference.

    If on top of those considerations, you take into account large vehicles accessing the site, such as refuse collection vehicles, which have to manoeuvre onto the other side of the road to enter the site, and ambulances travelling at speed it is simply a matter of time before there is a major accident.

    As has been stated repeatedly, there is no opposition to the site being developed. Residents would be delighted to see the site being used but want a suitable and sustainable development.

    I cannot accept the point that as existing transport, parking & safety is already bad we should ignore the fact that this development will make those issues worse and focus on campaigning elsewhere. You have suggested campaigning on those matters: can I ask if you have done so yourself? After all, you have referred to the pollution and safety issue in your comment, so you seem to be engaged on those points.

    This development will have a wide impact in ways that go beyond the significant safety & parking issues: it will set the precedent for this type of development in Arkley. Also, where will these families attend schools/GP surgeries and hospital? Can those services cope? Again, the argument that the situation is already bad does not mean that we should make the situation worse.

  • Comment Link Friday, 12 February 2016 12:08 posted by David R

    Rob and Tim, obviously you have missed the point we are trying to make here.

    We are NOT against the development. We are against the character, density and dangers that one entry/exit point will have. We are objecting to the fact that there is not enough parking therefore where will the extra 100 cars (potentially) park every day/night. On Barnet Road? I look forward to seeing the buses 20k cars ambulances and police trying to maneuver between the cars parked on Barnet road. How utterly short sighted.

    We know there is a shortage of housing and we welcome the fact that someone is going to develop the site. But cramming 114 dwellings into an area the size of the development is like trying to cram 40 people into a mini. They will fit but someone will suffocate.

    You talk about "affordable housing" - well LH told me their 2 beds will start at £750k and houses at £1.5mio. Is that affordable? To afford that dwelling you need a salary well in excess of £100k and we both know there are not too many people on that salary let alone the nurses and junior doctors. So your argument for affordable housing falls flat.

    We have spoken to the council re speeding and they have said that's got nothing to do with them and that is something the police and highways agency need to deal with. Good luck with that.

    And Rob, I keeled over at your comments about a relatively small development. Best you take a drive to The Ridgeway (Mill Hill) and see LH development there. Small is relative, once the development is finished it will look like a can of sardines. I've seen them and its not a pretty site.

    And you make no mention of the fact that Arkley is made up of detached homes with front and rear gardens and driveways. The development will change the face of Arkley and a precedent will be set. Any developer can come knocking, buy a row of houses and stick up flats. Is that what you want? We moved to Arkley (from S.Hampstead) because of the suburban feeling.

    Berkeley homes who in 2008 nearly bought the site (then pulled out because of the financial crisis) were planning to build ONLY detached high end houses. That's what we would like.

    LH are cramming as many dwellings to maximise their profits. They don't care about the fallout post development. Do me a favour and go stand by the narrow entry exit on Barnet Road. Think about this, you in the car with your kids trying to get out and some shmeral comes speeding down Wood Street/Galley Lane at 50mph, they have 40yds to stop. Ain't going to happen. Will you be there to pick up the pieces?

    I am all for housing and helping the not so well off. But this development will be out of reach of those people anyway.

    LH owe it to the community to build a development that is of the same character and density of our properties in the area. They need to add another entry exit point and they need to reduce the number of dwellings so that the residents can park their cars (not to mention visitors) safely.

    Have you thought about what Monday's are going to be like when the refuse trucks arrive and try emptying 228+ bins? The traffic will come to a standstill.

    I also want to mention that last year Barnet Council rejected a plan by a resident to build a house in their back garden. The reason, out of character and density. The case was appealed to the Secretary of State (Planning Inspectorate) who agreed with the council that the proposal was out of character in Arkley, was too dense (stuffed into a small area) and further would have meant the destruction of TPO trees. There is of course alot of money involved and we all know money talks. But at some stage in our lives, we need to take a hard look at what the people (power) are saying because after all you and I and the objectors reside in Arkley for the beauty and tranquility. In fact I can mention a number of Spurs/Arsenal players and 1D band members who live in the area. They came because of the beauty of Arkley. Let's not destroy Arkley to make a quick buck.

    So Rob and Tim if you really want to make a difference and keep Arkley, Arkley....join us.

  • Comment Link Friday, 12 February 2016 21:39 posted by Denise Barnett

    In response to Tim Webster.

    From the tone of your comments it is obvious that you have taken this opportunity to use our legitimate concerns for our community into a platform to air your personal political views.
    Interestingly, without realizing it, you are actually agreeing with all the objections we have raised.

    a) Heavy traffic on the Barnet Road already, causing congestion at various times of the day.
    b) Lack of schools in the area.
    c) Poor public transport.
    d) An already dense population in the Barnet Area.
    e) G.P surgeries and Barnet Hospital, already very stretched.
    f) Lack of parking spaces for hospital workers and visitors.

    What I fail to understand is how you don’t think that 114 dwellings, with the probability of at least 300 new residents and up to 250 additional cars, will not have a serious impact on the above situation, especially as the proposed number of on site parking places is grossly under estimated. (With only 155 spaces planned)

    Everyone agrees there is a shortage of housing in this country, but that shouldn’t mean we overbuild just anywhere on every piece of available land regardless of the impact on existing communities; and to ignore overcrowding when local amenities and infrastructure just will not cope.
    Even if you have no regard for the current Arkley residents, imagine the frustration the new residents from this proposed site would experience every day as they try to force their way into the congested traffic on the Barnet Road through the one and only, narrow and dangerous exit/entrance point.
    Whether it is to get to work or to drive the children to far away schools, when they find no school places available locally, the situation would be desperate, to say the least.

    To provide housing is important, but more consideration should be given to where those houses are built. It is not necessary to spoil a village character and existing communities, when careful planning could satisfy everyone and create new communities.

    Before you condemn “Grubby Landlords” for providing rented accommodation, just imagine where those people would live if such rented accommodation was not available.

    The proposed site at Elmbank is an eyesore and is in much need of development, but the proposed scheme is far too large for the space. Linden Homes could create a more acceptable design, in keeping with the character of Arkley, but they want to cram the highest number of homes, on this small site, to maximize their profit. ( money is the name of the game) regardless of the havoc it will create in the local community.

    So might I suggest that you think about all the relevant arguments we make before you criticise our motives.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 21 February 2016 16:25 posted by Tim Webster

    What I actually said was "money-grubbing landlords". They may or may not be grubby. Depends how often they bathe.

    If money-grubbing landlords hadn't bought-up all the housing stock with cheap buy-to-let mortgages before the crash, then more young people might be able to afford a place now.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 09 March 2016 23:02 posted by Phil Fletcher

    Tried signing the petition
    http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/SODA-Elmbank/. early today, but a message came up that 'the petition was unable to be accessed' or words to that effect.
    I looked on their website, but couldn't find it anywhere. This might be down to the fact that I am currently suffering from a virus that makes you feel rather dopey and unwell, but anyway....

    I can't imagine that they would take it down, as Barnet Council Planning committee approved the Barnet Road Development. theoretically, there a\re other avenues available to us.
    A while later I rang up Barnet (or rather C(r)apita. Had a battle with the word recognition system which clearly wasn't working, then I said "OPERATOR!!". That worked as I could speak to an operator.
    I explained that I wanted to speak to the department that dealt with petitions, to find out what has happened to the SODA petition. She put me through somewhere, and the system though I wanted a surveyor!
    So much for the efficiency of outsourcing in Barnet LBC.

    Another aspect:- it seems highly probable that funding is to be cut for the 307 bus route. On the face of it, this seems rather daft, seeing that 114 dwellings are now approved and they might just need to catch a bus to somewhere once in a while....

    I fully agree about the volume of traffic. Galley Lane is often a rat run. I live at no 92, and early in the morning there is quite a high volume of traffic at 7:30-8 in the morning. There are increasingly traffic jams - and more than just occasionally!

    Apart from just moaniing, I think I just might have something positive to offer:
    I have discovered that the expansion branch of Sainsbury's in Sheffield was stopped by the Town Council as the anticipated increase in traffic would have pushed the air pollution levels over EU legal limits.
    This decision was supported by the planning inspectorate.
    Please See
    http://www.sheffieldeastend.org.uk/PlanningInspectorsDECISIONSburysArcherRd082011.pdf


    Now, I am not a lawyer (I'm a semi-retired gardener!) but could this be a precedent, or at least a contributory factor to stopping other projects that would generate a sufficient volume of traffic to cause enough air pollution?

    I am currently trying to check to see whether this has any validity or not. As a member of Friends of the Earth, I am trying their lawyers.

    If any of you know of anyone else who could check this out?
    If so, then we would need to put up some difffusion tubes to check the NO2 (Nitrogen dioxide levels. You can get these from GradKo International and cost around £10 each (including postage, processing and a report of the results.

    Kind Regards

    Phil Fletcher

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