MP steps up fight to save Whalebones

Written by  Monday, 01 February 2016 18:07
Peter Mason, who will be 80 in April, has run a small holding on farmland at Whalebones since 1962 Peter Mason, who will be 80 in April, has run a small holding on farmland at Whalebones since 1962
Opposition is mounting to the possibility that 14 acres of woods and farmland at Whalebones, between Wood Street and Barnet Hospital, might be zoned for housing and community use.

Mrs Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has made a passionate case to spare one of High Barnet’s precious green spaces from the rapid spread of urban development in and around the town.

She told her annual question and answer session with the Barnet Society (29.1.2016) that more new houses were being built within the borough of Barnet than in any other London borough, and therefore it was imperative to protect local countryside and green belt land.

Trustees for the Gwyneth Cowing estate, who are being advised by property consultants Bidwells of Cambridge, have asked Barnet Council to consider whether the Whalebones site can be listed for housing and community use in a new local development plan being prepared by the borough.

The trustees want to sell the site for housing,
and clearly it could be worth millions of pounds

Mrs Villiers said she had discussed the trustees’ application with the council’s chief executive on the morning of her question and answer session, and she had made clear her opposition to any proposal to list Whalebones for future residential development.

“We are so fortunate to have such a marvellous green space with so many magnificent trees near the middle of High Barnet. Where else in greater London can you find a field with a flock of geese so close to the town centre?”

Take a gander at Wood Street’s flock of geeseTake a gander at Wood Street’s flock of geeseShe accepted that the trustees of Whalebones, formerly the home of the late Miss Gwyneth Cowing, had every right to determine a long-term future for their land, but she had been surprised to find that although it was in a conservation area that did not mean it could not be redeveloped.

“Conservation area status might help, but in effect there is no protection for the site other than a number of tree preservation orders.

“The ward councillors are as concerned as I am about the threat to Whalebones, and the need to protect the woods and fields.

Finding a way to preserve this as a green space for High Barnet is one of my highest priorities.  “Local residents are not against redevelopment.

Over a hundred new homes are going to be built next door on Elmbank, but that is derelict land, formerly the site of several nurses’ homes, whereas Whalebones, with its flocks of geese, ducks, chickens and bantams, is unique.”

Mrs Villiers said she was ready to meet the trustees and their consultants to discuss their future proposals, and was prepared to do so in conjunction with the Barnet Society and other local groups.

“We have to accept there is a genuine threat to the woods and fields at Whalebones.

The trustees want to sell the site for housing, and clearly it could be worth millions of pounds with planning permission for housing.”

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 February 2016 11:36 posted by Theresa Villiers

    Some misunderstanding has occurred as a result of this article. Whilst I said at the meeting that "We all recognise the need for new homes", I went on to make it clear that those homes need to be in the right places.

    I didn't mean to suggest, as the article might be read as implying, that residents support the Linden Homes development at Elmbank. I accept that there is a case for new homes on the site because it is previously developed and derelict. However, this does not mean I believe that the current Linden Homes proposals are the right ones and I didn't say that to the Barnet Society meeting. I believe that Linden Homes need to revise their plans in a significant way before they could be acceptable and in character with the surrounding neighbourhood and capable of being supported local road infrastructure. I have asked Linden Homes to do this and also raised these concerns with Barnet Council as the local planning authority.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 February 2016 13:25 posted by Martin McNally

    I have started a Facebook page to try to save Whalebones, all input from anyone with an interest in saving it please leave as much information or ideas on the site. Many thanks Martin

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 February 2016 14:08 posted by Jackie massey

    I have know Peter and Jill for over 35 years and they have kept that place going with sheer hard work and devotion. I kept my horse there until he had to be put down aged 36 years. To push them out at this time of there life when Peter has had that place for 50 years is an absolute disgrace

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