By taking over an 80-metre-long grass verge – which has now been replaced by a wall – pedestrians are forced to walk in the road which residents say will put countless children at risk.
Councillor David Longstaff, who has followed up the complaints, has been informed by the council’s property services department that the hospice has encroached onto council-owned land and that Noah’s Ark will be asked to restore the grass verge.
By building “a large wall across what should have been a grass verge” the hospice removed any form of pedestrian walkway; the “offending wall” should be removed and the grass verge made good.
Byng Road residents say that they complained to the council last summer when they saw contractors cut down a large silver birch tree and start excavating the verge in preparation for the construction of the wall.
“Our complaint appeared to have been ignored and we now have an ugly, rubble-filled wall erected on the grass verge.”
The loss of the grass verge has caused considerable concern among volunteers at the Barnet Environment Centre which is next door to the hospice, and which shares the site of the 7.5-acre Byng Road nature reserve.
Up to 2,000 school children visit the environment centre every year and volunteers fear that the loss of a pedestrian grass verge will put them at risk because they are being forced to walk in the road.
The environment centre has pointed out that the lease and planning permission for the hospice did require the construction of a new footpath alongside the frontage of the hospice in order to provide safe pedestrian access from the bottom of Byng Road to the environment centre.
Many of the school children visiting the nature reserve are of primary age and are encouraged to use public transport and then walk to the centre.
Traffic has increased along the road leading to the car park used by members and supporters of Barnet Elizabethans Rugby Football Club and plot holders at the Byng Road allotments.
The cark park is also being used by staff and visitors to the hospice and traffic to and from the hospice is likely to increase next year when it becomes fully operational.
One alternative suggested by the residents is for the hospice to construct a new pavement on the other side of the road and then install a pedestrian crossing to the environment centre.
When asked by the Barnet Society if Noah’s Ark was meeting council official to discuss the dispute or having discussions with local residents about the removal of the pedestrian walkway, the hospice said that “it was not commenting at this particular time.”