After waiting months for an answer, Roger Newell, owner of a semi-derelict shop beside Coe’s Alley, has been assured that Barnet Council’s planning department is keen to see the site improved with an acceptable redevelopment.
For some years nearby residents as well as passers-by have been urging Mr Newell to get on with the demolition of his vacant, lock-up shop and tidy up this corner of Union Street.
Graffiti on walls and fly tipping at the side and rear of the property have increased the disfigurement of what locals say is a blot on the landscape in the middle of a conservation area.
“After a pre-application discussion with my architect, I have now been assured that Barnet Council do accept that a solution must be found for the redevelopment of what is an eyesore and detracts from the local conservation area.”
Mr Newell has been told that his most recent revised proposal – for two one-bedroom flats – would not be approved and that he must aim to construct a one-bedroom flat on the site together with accommodation for a small office.
“My architect is convinced that we can ensure that a two-storey building on the site would be in keeping with the brickwork and appearance of the rest of the Victorian terraced house in Union Street.”
After a previous application was rejected in 2017, Mr Newell submitted his revised plans in January for a pre-application discussion.
In a response he received in early September, he was told that two flats would not be acceptable nor would a house, as the site lacked sufficient amenity space.
“My architect, who is now working on a new revised plan, has already gone to great lengths to ensure this small residential redevelopment will be in keeping with Union Street and the rest of the conservation area and will reduce any loss of light for houses in Coe’s Alley.
“After having to wait eight months for an answer because of delays caused by the pandemic, I’m finally hoping we can reach agreement with the planning department.”
Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has told Mr Newell that she hopes the planning process can be speeded up as residents in nearby houses have been complaining about the delays in demolishing the empty shop.
During previous planning discussions Barnet Council favoured a reversion to commercial use but Mr Newell has argued consistently that this made no sense because there was no demand for additional retail space.
The lock-up shop – vacant for the last 12 years – was last used as a greengrocery and florist but was broken into so many times that it had to close, as insurance became prohibitive.
Mr Newell’s efforts to find an acceptable design to redevelop the site have been backed in the past by both the Barnet Society and the Barnet Residents Association.