Thursday, 30 August 2018 15:03

New plans for Brake Shear House

Written by Robin Bishop
Visualisation of proposed development by BroadwayMalyan (architects) Visualisation of proposed development by BroadwayMalyan (architects) Courtesy of Shanly Homes
A new planning application is in for the Brake Shear House site. The design has good and weak points, so the Barnet Society is minded to be neutral about it. You can comment on it until Friday 7th September.

Brake Shear House (No. 164 High Street) is the backland workshop site east of the High Street, stretching between the Butcher’s Arms and Toni & Guy. For Chipping Barnet, it’s big: half a hectare (about 1.2 acres – four times the size of Barnet Market).

Three year ago, the Barnet Society supported its redevelopment for a combination of housing and affordable workspace, the latter to replace at least part of what would be lost through demolition. We helped Barnet planners shape a planning brief, and encouraged the scheme that emerged for workspace, 32 flats and 8 houses with gardens. We particularly liked the way it would have opened up a new view of greenery from the High Street, and the high design quality of its buildings and landscaping.

The property was subsequently sold on to Shanly Homes, who have now submitted a new planning application for a somewhat similar, but simplified and denser, scheme.

Vehicle access would be via the existing, but widened, road next to the Tanning Shop. Spaces for 43 cars and 110 bikes would be provided in a basement. Apparently the ‘level of [vehicle] movements will be reduced in comparison with the existing use’.

At the end of the access road, Hadley greenery would be visible. Two U-shaped blocks would be arranged either side of it, each around an open courtyard. The blocks would be mostly 4-storey, but part of one rising to 5 storeys, with some flats on a lower ground floor (using the fall of the site).

There would be 68 dwellings from 1- to 3-bedroom in size, all for sale and including 40% affordable units ‘subject to viability’. It would also provide more flexible workspace ‘well suited to businesses of an artisan nature…a proportion of [which]…will be affordable’, offering employment for 17 people.

The Barnet Society is minded to submit the following comments:

The Barnet Society is neutral about this proposal.

In its favour are that:

  • It provides a good mix of residential units and workspace.
  • Being hidden from many viewpoints, a higher density of housing would be more acceptable here than on other central sites.
  • The layout and massing is generally rational and considerate of its neighbours.
  • The construction is clearly expressed, and its decorative brickwork adds interest.

Against that:

  • The proposed 5th floor would obtrude onto the High Street skyline viewed from Hadley across King George’s Field. Currently this is dominated by the tower of St John the Baptist and the twin spires of the shopping precinct. In contrast, the 5th floor would be appear as a long horizontal mass the same height as the spires, but with none of their delicacy.
  • Most of the flats are very deep in plan (up to 17m) and often only single-aspect, with consequently low levels of daylight penetration.
  • In the corners of the courtyards, visual and aural privacy between flats could be a problem.
  • The shared amenity landscape around the site perimeter would not be easy for residents to access or for maintenance.
  • We have concerns about pedestrian and vehicle safety around the access road/High Street junctions.
  • The extent of the basement could affect local ground water conditions to the detriment of neighbouring properties.
  • The sustainability targets are unambitious.

View the plans and supporting documents and submit your own comments at: https://publicaccess.barnet.gov.uk/online-applications/ by Friday 7th September. The application reference no. is 18/4700/FUL.

 

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