Whalebones Park to go for houses?

Written by  Friday, 20 November 2015 12:06
Whalebones Park stretches westwards for 14 acres from the junction of Wood Street and Wellhouse Lane Whalebones Park stretches westwards for 14 acres from the junction of Wood Street and Wellhouse Lane
Whalebones Park, a 14-acre stretch of fields and woods between Barnet Hospital and Wood Street, is about to be considered by Barnet Council as a possible area to be developed for future housing and community use.

Trustees of the late Miss Gwyneth Cowing have asked whether the Whalebones farmland, which forms part of the Wood Street conservation area, can be considered for residential development following the “council’s recent call for suitable sites, against the background of an urgent and pressing need for new housing”.

An initial response from the council is expected early next year.

Whalebones, once the home of Miss Cowing, is one of Chipping Barnet’s oldest residences, dating back more than 200 years, and takes its name from the blue- whale jaw bones that stand at the park’s entrance on Wood Street.

The trustees say the house itself, which has protection as a listed building, would “remain in situ”.

There have been previous unsuccessful applications to build on part of the land: in 1979, during Miss Cowing's lifetime, an application to build two houses was rejected on the grounds that the woods and fields around Whalebones presented a valuable open space between Victorian Barnet and the more modern developments on the borders with Arkley.

Whalebones Park from the junction of Wood Street and Wellhouse LaneWhalebones Park from the junction of Wood Street and Wellhouse Lane

Miss Cowing’s trustees say that if the land was zoned for housing, the intention is that provision would be made for public access, open space and a new purpose-built community building.

This would include a new studio for the Barnet Guild of Artists and space for Barnet District Beekeepers Association, two groups that Miss Cowing wanted to have the continued use of buildings on the estate “so long as practicable”.

If the farmland around Whalebones was approved for housing it would, along with other residential development, transform the woods and fields along Wood Street on the western approach to Barnet from the Arkley public house.

A planning application by Linden Home to build 93 flats and 21 houses on the four-acre stretch of land between the Whalebones estate and the rear of houses in Elmbank Avenue is due to be considered at the December meeting of Barnet Council’s planning committee, and together the two projects would result in the redevelopment of the large green space bounded by Wood Street and Wellhouse Lane.

The Cowing trustees said the decision to ask whether the Whalebones land could be zoned for residential use had been prompted by several factors: a shortage of funds to maintain the estate; a continuing problem of trespass and vandalism; and the difficulty of finding a suitable agricultural tenant when the present tenant, now in his eightieth year, could no longer continue.

Potential housebuilders have been approached by the trustees and a suitable developer would be asked to draw up and make a detailed planning application, carrying out discussions with local amenity groups as part of the consultation process.

The trustees would also retain the right of approval for any future scheme to ensure that the density of any new housing was in keeping with the area, and that there was provision for such community use.

In a statement to the Barnet Society, the trustees said that since Miss Cowing’s death in 1987 they had “done everything possible to honour her wish that the farmland and community interests continued as before for as long as practicable.

...done everything possible to honour her wish that the farmland and community interests continued as before for as long as practicable.

“But the tenant farmer who holds the agricultural tenancy is in his late seventies, and the trustees do have to plan for the future.

Two jawbones from a ninety-foot-long blue whale stand at the Wood Street entrance to Whalebones Park. Weighing three quarters of a ton, the two bones were installed 76 years ago, replacing a set of jawbones that dated from the 1830sTwo jawbones from a ninety-foot-long blue whale stand at the Wood Street entrance to Whalebones Park. Weighing three quarters of a ton, the two bones were installed 76 years ago, replacing a set of jawbones that dated from the 1830s

There is little likelihood of attracting a new tenant. There are also financial considerations. 

“If the land was retained as it is, provision would have to be made for the cost of maintaining the woods and fields in order to prevent the estate from being vandalised, and that would be an insuperable burden.

“The trustees (to both of whom she was personally well known) believe that although it is almost thirty years since Miss Cowing’s death, she would, if she was still alive, see the reality of the position and wholly support what they are now trying to achieve.

“Future community use will be safeguarded. Who knows, a future community building could be named the Gwyneth Cowing Art Centre?”

The name “Whalebones” first appeared on a map in 1872, and local historians think the name originated from the famous polar explorer John Franklin (1786–1847), who once lived in the house and who installed the first set of whalebones sometime in the 1830s.

Miss Cowing, whose family owned the Barnet Press, had the whale jaw bones replaced in May 1939. She was a founder member of the Barnet Society.

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39 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 November 2015 12:46 posted by Tim Webster

    It's not a park though, is it? There's no public access. Developments like this must surely be preferable to the damaging destruction of businesses like the Brakeshear redevelopment

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 November 2015 16:49 posted by Karen Davies

    Oh no!

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 November 2015 16:50 posted by Jane Hoar

    Oh no indeed. Barnet is being gradually destroyed.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 November 2015 16:51 posted by Desmond Michael

    Noooo! is nothing sacred? We should be building on brown field sites not green spaces - does anyone consider the affect on the infrastructure of the area, look at the increased volume of traffic now.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 November 2015 21:12 posted by Jenny Kobish

    No, this is one of the last green spaces in Wood Street. There are dilapidated NHS buildings including the old Marie Foster home which could be developed for housing with no loss of green space. Barnet is becoming a giant car park all around the hospital. I hope the planning department rejects the application.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 21 November 2015 12:40 posted by Dan

    No! That is our history

  • Comment Link Sunday, 22 November 2015 20:37 posted by M Emmerson

    Yet another piece of greenbelt/wildlife habitat destroyed.
    Why live in Barnet when it's no longer Barnet?

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 05:59 posted by Julia Hutchings

    Why us there little hope of attracting a new tenant farmer? I'm sure if it was advertised they would. And as for stating that Miss Cowing would agree with the plans... What poppycock! Sounds like they've found a way to line their own pockets. Disgraceful behaviour!

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:33 posted by Sarah Edwards

    Oh no there will b no Barnet left. Sad news indeed. I used to work at the farm there x

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:34 posted by Lorraine Hockings

    How sad

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:35 posted by Sharon Willis

    So wrong, remove our history for what!!!!

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:35 posted by Fran Cripps-Prentice

    Very sad

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:36 posted by Mark Field

    No they were a key part of Barnet...

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:37 posted by Andrew Cairncross

    This is just wrong

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:37 posted by Ruth Byford

    Disgraceful, is nothing sacred.

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:38 posted by Sharon Willis

    If they got to build, why can they not keep them, how would we start a petition

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:39 posted by Daryl Smith

    Am truly shocked and sad
    The Whalebone wad a big part of my youth and have very fond memories
    What will happen to the tenant who has been there for so long?

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:40 posted by Linda Barnett Goldenstein

    Very sad!

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:40 posted by Daniel Winkworth

    No! Thats our history

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:41 posted by Bernice Figa

    Oh no! So lovely and green..opposite where we live. Who wants to see more flats and houses!

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:41 posted by Ronnie Main

    Miss Cowing would spin in her grave if she knew this was an option.Greedy people worrying about missing the gravy train is behind this,and as someone else has already pointed out what will happen to the present tenant,who I know Miss Cowing thought the world of..

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:42 posted by Samantha Moss

    Ugh more flats just what Barnet needs!! Isn't the huge development at Dollis Valley enough?? Such a shame if we lose this iconic part of Barnet. It would be lovely if they would open it up to the public to use as a park or something like that. So sad.

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 08:42 posted by Jenny Petch

    Is there a petition set up for this ? I know loads of people that would sign it of so ? Xx

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 09:02 posted by Jackie massey

    It's an absolute disgrace. I used to keep my horse there and the present tenant keeps the fields in good order as well as the yard. If a petition is going around I know lots of people who would sign it. Has anyone thought of where they will put the present tenants ???? In a flat somewhere ???

  • Comment Link Monday, 23 November 2015 11:33 posted by Valerie Tichborne

    No, it is very important to preserve this green space. It will just be another extension of suburban sprawl, and part of our heritage will be forever lost.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 24 November 2015 05:36 posted by Paul coleman

    Another step that will gradually destroy the town and its history! This was once a great place to live but as always people who don't give a monkeys about the history and that includes councillors, politicians , developers, come along and wipe out the things that makes these places so special . Along with places like Barnet football club who they should have bent over backwards for, and as a result of that the Red lion pub being closed and sold off. The increase in traffic and affect on wildlife they don't care. Is it really a surprise they won't be happy until there is nowhere left to build .they are destroying these towns all over the country , they make laws to protect these places then move the goalposts and find any little way of getting around these laws, maybe they can put the next wave of refugees in there. Just want to thank all these decision makers (politicians) for doing what they do best Destroy everything that is good for there own gain / ego's, Nuff said!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 25 November 2015 10:34 posted by Simon

    Having attended the election husting's at St John's Church, I recall our local MP saying she would "fight tooth and nail" to preserve Barnet's open, green spaces. I therefore hope a concerted effort will be made to preserve this area.

    On a similar theme,there should be an enquiry as to why that absolute eyesore of a building in Wood Street, the former Marie Foster home has been left dilapidated for so many years.

    In fact no more housing developments should be allowed in this area until that building has been developed into housing.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 26 November 2015 16:05 posted by Dr Jonathan Warren

    I am horrified at the proposal to develop this lovely "green lung".

    The roads around Wellhouse Lane and Wood Street are already over congested and a further development here would be catastrophic.

    I admit to having a vested interest as I have lived opposite this green island for more than 30 Years. I think we need to stop this development from ever happening.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 28 November 2015 15:49 posted by Sally Fairbairn

    For crying out loud! New Barnet offices turning into flats, new developments at Cat Hill instead of the University site and MODA museum, Dollis Valley redeveloped, a new estate in Potters Road and Victoria Road and probably others I know nothing of. . The infrastructure can't stand it. Roads are congested and water mains keep bursting. It takes me up to 40 minutes to commute across from East to High Barnet in the morning... I would be very interested in seeing the population figures for Barnet (New Barnet particularly) compared from 1983, when I moved here to today.

  • Comment Link Monday, 30 November 2015 09:45 posted by Steve

    Re the population question.
    Barnet has the fastest growing population of any London borough. FACT.
    The UK as a whole is adding over 1 million people every 3 years.
    The effect on the environment, transport, education, housing, the NHS is going to be horrific.
    And there is nothing which can be done about it.
    A city the size of Coventry added every year.
    Depressing.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 08 December 2015 22:56 posted by angela

    Horrific !!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 January 2017 19:41 posted by Ian Graham

    I think miss Cowing would turn in her grave if she knew what the so called trustees of her land intended, they should be ashamed of themselves, once again money takes precedence over maintaining the green spaces around Barnet.

  • Comment Link Monday, 20 March 2017 10:29 posted by LINDA WEBB

    What sense is there to destroy yet more green belt when there are plenty of brownfield sights and empty buildings standing derelict!
    People choose to live in Barnet as it has been well known for being 'leafy' and 'green'.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 21 March 2017 18:34 posted by Jenny

    This cannot happen ! That is Barnet's history and green space is just as necessary as housing ! It's greenspaces are what makes Barnet such a lovely place to live !!! If I had wanted to live surrounded by ugly buildings I would have chosen to live in the centre of the city !!! Save Barnet ! Save New Barnet too whilst we're there ! We have to pull together to stop this !!!! https://www.facebook.com/groups/440523666155069/

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 22 March 2017 07:04 posted by Emma Verity

    Nope. Awful idea. Leave our green spaces alone!!!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 22 March 2017 13:01 posted by Lynne Evans

    There are far too many ugly and unaffordable developments going up in and around Barnet. Whilst I can understand that new housing is needed - it IS being built. Only a short distance along from Whalebones, a new development by Lindens is being built. I would like to see this particular development, on valuable green space, vehemently opposed.

  • Comment Link Monday, 27 March 2017 02:23 posted by Andy Cottrell

    Barnet needs to slow it's expansion. We do not gain from welcoming hundreds of new residents every month, we stress our infrastructure, we close local industry to make room for more people who won't work in Barnet....because we have closed the industrial areas. I'm talking Barnet Town not Barnet Borough. Barnet Town is special. Tour round the rest of the borough and you will see that. If we actually NEED to house more people [and I don't think that we do] why not look at the Marie Foster Home and the building next to it. Right in the heart of High Barnet and an eyesore. Deal with these before you build on land left to the people.

  • Comment Link Monday, 21 August 2017 14:57 posted by Culainn Boland-Shanahan

    Have a say about what development on Whalebones means to you.

    You’re invited to a drop in workshop at the Art’s Guild in Whalebones this Thursday 24th August any time between 6:30pm till 8pm. This in an opportunity to voice you opinion about what you would and would not like to see change in the local area, which development on Whalebones might influence.

    I’ve already spoken with 40 different residents in their homes and on their doorsteps. This workshop brings together that research, and asks why local residents think things like green space, affordable housing and parking restrictions matter to them.

    This workshop will define part of a report I am doing on Whalebones Park for the owners of The Whalebones house, who would be greatly affected by any development on the land surrounding them.

    If you'd like to attend, please do leave a comment.
    I'm also happy to answer any questions you might have.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 November 2017 22:14 posted by Wendy Marler

    The trustees do not live in the local area so do not care what becomes of our green space. It is so sad to see our town being destroyed.

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