Barnet Council’s environment committee is examining the feasibility of using small parks and green spaces across the Borough of Barnet as possible sites for installing solar panels or electricity storage units for renewable energy.

News of the plan – which could result in reduced public access -- has met with an angry response from residents and conservationists.

 

Many have been shocked to discover that much-loved local gardens and green spaces have been designated as being of “low quality-low value” and might be suitable for conversion to solar farms or battery storage sites.

Highlands Gardens, in Leicester Road, New Barnet, is one of the parks on a list of 45 deemed to be “low quality-low value”.

Other locations earmarked for potential development as sites for renewable energy development include the wooded grassland at the junction of Lyonsdown Road and Longmore Avenue and the green space opposite Cromer Road Primary School.

When the proposal was discussed by Barnet Council (19.1.2021), Labour Party councillors criticised the plan and forced a vote, but their challenge was amended, and the full council resolved that the authority was continuing to work to “protect all Barnet’s parks and green spaces”.

To keep up the pressure on the council, Barnet Labour Party has launched a petition calling for the scheme to be dropped. www.barnetlabour.org.uk/2021/01/19/stop-building-on-barnets-parks-petition/

The petition says that all parks and green spaces should be protected from any non-park related building or development and the environment committee’s feasibility study should be abandoned.

Barnet Labour Party has accused the controlling group of Barnet Conservative Councillors of inventing the idea of declaring a list of 45 “low quality-low value” green spaces to justify investing less money in the borough’s parks.

Labour’s environment spokesperson, Councillor Alan Schneiderman, said this scheme to “make money” from Barnet’s parks was another attack on the borough’s parkland and green spaces.

He believed there was other council owned land that would be more suitable for renewable energy projects.

There should be a ban on building anything on parks and green spaces other than play equipment or other facilities that enhanced and improved public access.

When asked by the Barnet Society for their reaction, nearby residents said they were shocked to hear that Highlands Gardens, close to Station Road, New Barnet, was on the list of 45 green spaces of low value.

Highlands Gardens, which was opened to the public in 1931, has its own support group, Friends of Highlands Gardens, and is regarded as a much-valued park, and a popular haven and retreat for residents and passers-by as it is only a few minutes’ walk from the Everyman cinema.

Nearby resident Hamid Gardiz, who been for a walk in the park with his dog Ash, was concerned to hear that it might be chosen as a site for solar panels and that public access might be restricted.

“The gardens are really pleasant and in summer there are always people sitting on the benches and children playing. Families have picnics there.

“Over the years less money has been spent on the gardens. Thirty years ago, there was much more to see but it would be terrible if they were redeveloped or closed off.”

The green space opposite Cromer Road Primary School, which is laid to grass and has mature trees, is a typical example of the small green spaces across the borough that are to be included in the feasibility study.

Other nearby green spaces in the list are at Oakleigh Park Avenue, Oakleigh Road North, and Oakleigh Road South.

The feasibility study will assess the initial investment that would be required to build renewable energy substations including solar farms and batteries. An assessment would also be made of the planning consultation that would be involved.

Once proposals are made for individual sites the committee will be presented with a range of options and the aim would be to ensure the sustainability of Barnet’s parks and to produce “a range of environmental benefits”.

The Barnet Society raised problems of this kind when the council consulted, five years ago, on its Parks & Open Spaces Strategy, as you can read in our web post on 19 April 2016.

"Unfortunately the council ignored our concerns then; let us hope they have second thoughts now,' said Robin Bishop, the society's chair.'

 

Comments (8)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"Low value" in terms of what? Money, amenity value....? And who makes the decision. Yes solar panels on roofs, along railway embankments etc, but no in any green spaces.

Penny Marlton
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

How about people do their homework? Alan Schneiderman sits on this committee and having read ALL of the reports myself followed by comments and minutes, he has remained silent... not one comment uttered!

It’s also a feasibility study not a planning application, surely it’s good practise for a council to look at what land it has, what is and...

How about people do their homework? Alan Schneiderman sits on this committee and having read ALL of the reports myself followed by comments and minutes, he has remained silent... not one comment uttered!

It’s also a feasibility study not a planning application, surely it’s good practise for a council to look at what land it has, what is and isn’t used and then look at the options available before the Mayor of London comes in to want houses on everything or the LiB Dems wants a cycle path across it!

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Amanda
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If Barnet are serious about solar, then they should mandate new builds (eg the gasworks site) to be built with suitable alignment and design to maximise insolation (the ability to collect solar power) and design solar panelling into the buildings from the outset.

Cutting up the remaining greenspaces in Barnet (which would presumably also...

If Barnet are serious about solar, then they should mandate new builds (eg the gasworks site) to be built with suitable alignment and design to maximise insolation (the ability to collect solar power) and design solar panelling into the buildings from the outset.

Cutting up the remaining greenspaces in Barnet (which would presumably also require tree-felling in sites such as Highland Gardens and Lyonsdown) is a "quick buck" solution in comparison, which would cost developers less, but significantly impact the appearance and amenity of the borough, i.e. the residents would pay the costs.

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David Massam
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Why don't local councils, even central government, insist that large corporations and multi nationals who build big supermarkets, out-of-town shopping centres and delivery warehouses insist that they include solar panels for renewable energy for the community they serve?

A radical idea that would no doubt be dismissed as 'anti-business' by...

Why don't local councils, even central government, insist that large corporations and multi nationals who build big supermarkets, out-of-town shopping centres and delivery warehouses insist that they include solar panels for renewable energy for the community they serve?

A radical idea that would no doubt be dismissed as 'anti-business' by many.

The problem local authorities have (in particular Barnet Plc) is that they have sold most of their assets off to private companies. Parks and green spaces are about all they've got these days.

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Local Resident
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Sorry additional thought
In addition plant some fruit trees that any one can help them selves to apples pears plums and that will soften the blow
So i think its a great idea but what gets built should be attractive not municipal and the pay off is in each area beautiful fruit trees

Leanda walters
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What A dilemma. I do hope it can be resolved amicably and in the best interests of all parties.

Mark Finzel
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

It will be totally unacceptable for LBB to give up ANY green space for development.
Public amenities must be protected.
Please keep us informed of all developments so we can protest and lobby vigorously

Catherine Little
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Where do they get the idea that these spaces are underused? Have they had CCTV there for 12 months-no!! Now I don`t mind solar panels but our local families use it and local dog walkers- our piece of `uderused` land is rarely empty, except at night .And wouldn`t the panels get easily damaged? I meant they need to be up high to get the sun (&...

Where do they get the idea that these spaces are underused? Have they had CCTV there for 12 months-no!! Now I don`t mind solar panels but our local families use it and local dog walkers- our piece of `uderused` land is rarely empty, except at night .And wouldn`t the panels get easily damaged? I meant they need to be up high to get the sun (& remain undamaged) surley-not much use under trees?

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Krista Lonsdale
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