Because this is such an unusual project, and one on which Society members may hold strong views, we are publishing our draft (see below) for your comments before submitting it.
Our stance may surprise some people, because our initial reaction to the proposals was sceptical. They include improving the driving range, adding a short game academy course and land drainage, and a mound of landfill soil along St. Albans Road about 500 yards long and up to twelve feet high that would require the felling of some 50 Poplars. The latter form part of the fine green gateway to Chipping Barnet and herald the Green Belt, and any change would be conspicuous and contentious.
Since February, our Vice President (and landscape expert) David Lee and I have visited and held discussions with the Club and developer, and the final proposals incorporate several of David’s suggestions.
The application documents are detailed, and we are reasonably satisfied with much of the information we had asked for. That included an environmental impact assessment, mounding contours, planting plan, drainage, contractor’s access, reassurance about enabling investigation of the Battle of Barnet, and safeguarding public rights of way across the golf course.
We have concluded that the proposed short course, driving range and drainage improvements, and new mounding on the northern part of the site, would be scarcely visible to the public, and therefore acceptable to the Barnet Society. Golf Club members may take a different view, but that is an internal matter about which they can make their own representations to the Club and planners.
We have carefully considered the question of the Poplars. Although not necessarily agreeing with all the conclusions of the two tree surveys that have been carried out, we recognise that many of the Poplars are near the end of their natural life, so their loss will be inevitable before long.
This is a unique opportunity, therefore, to replace them with native species more characteristic of our Green Belt, and to boost the ecological value of the landscape. The Club’s planting proposals do not yet go far enough but – done properly – the scheme could be a good legacy to Barnet for many decades to come.
You can also submit your own comments independently by 23 July 2015. Go to Barnet’s planning portal and search for application reference no. 15/03873/FUL.
BARNET SOCIETY DRAFT RESPONSE
The Barnet Society’s comments relate to proposed works most noticeable to the public, chiefly – but not solely – the strip east of St.Albans Road. This is part of Barnet’s valuable green gateway, & must be executed & maintained well.
However the documents submitted do not reassure us. They are not helped by unco-ordinated plans & sections, trees not clearly referenced between table & plans, & views 8 & 9 in the Visual Impact Assessment being mislabelled.
Specific conditions must be attached to the following:
1. Landform. Do not exceed heights marked.
2. New drain. Follow proposed contours & connect via chamber to drainage system.
3. Planting. Specify shrub, grass & flower mixes. Reference tree & shrub sizes to plans. (If necessary, vary on-site by agreement).
4. Trees. The D&A Statement says approximately 3,000 would be provided, which we believe is insufficient. The plans show only 2,835.
5. Hedge. As well as re-planting gaps, thicken the existing hedge where appropriate.
6. Right of way & stile. Mark on the proposed plans. A new stile set back from the road is desirable.
7. Boundary fencing. Post-&-rail is preferable along St.Alban’s Road where property or plants need protection.
8. Works access. Address level change of c.0.5m from the main road.
9. Method statement. There is real risk of lorry & foot traffic damaging roots, foliage & earlier phases of work. Statement to include: turning space; temporary topsoil heaps; how stripping, mounding, sculpting & planting will proceed within the very tight constraints of existing vegetation & fairways; & clarity about protection of all retained trees & hedge.
10. Programme. Correct planting season will be critical. Complete Battle of Barnet investigations before ground is stripped & re-covered.
11. Monitoring. Define method & responsibility for monitoring of fill material, flora & fauna provision, archaeology & all immediate repairs.
12. Aftercare. Define method & responsibility for 10-year management plan including drainage ditches.