Yet more of High Barnet's dwindling stock of light industrial and commercial workspaces might be converted into residential development if Barnet Council grants planning permission.


An application has been submitted by Limelight Publicity Ltd to demolish Regent House, its single storey premises on the Queens Road industrial estate, off Wood Street, and redevelop the site with a four-storey block of nine flats.

Residents in roads around the industrial estate, which is next door to Queen Elizabeth’s Boys’ School, have registered over 30 objections on the grounds that the height and scale of the flats would overshadow their homes, some of which they say would be overlooked.

The block of flats, with a commercial unit of the ground floor, would back on to the gardens of houses in Cavendish Road and look out onto the school’s playing fields with houses in Byng Road to the east and the nature reserve of the Barnet Environment centre to the north.

Such has been the pressure for new housing that High Barnet has lost many of the small factories, industrial workshop and commercial enterprises that were once within walking distance of the town centre.

Brake Shear House, an historic complex of workshops just off the High Street, has been replaced with the recently completed Lightfield estate of four and five-storey blocks of apartments and eight town houses.

Applications have been made to demolish offices and workshops in Moxon Street to make way for six and seven storey blocks of flats, and new houses are planned on half of the Meadow Works site in Pricklers Hill. 

Queens Road industrial estate was developed in the early 1900s and one of the first tenants was Barnet Steam Laundry, which was established in 1914, followed by the opening of a chemical works in 1935.

The estate is a mix of buildings – the oldest is Howard House dating from 1900 – but most are two-storey industrial and commercial premises which now host an ever-widening range of services and latterly sports facilities.

Recent arrivals include Fighting Fit Fencing and the Anima Gymnastics Club. Sebby’s Corner baby bank, which moved in last year, attracted the interest of the national press when it was visited last November by the Princess of Wales.

Among the objectors are residents in the two roads closest to the industrial estate – Regina Close and Elizabeth Close – who fear that if planning permission was granted for a four-storey block of flats it would set a precedent and be followed by similar applications.

Some residents of Queens Road have objected on the grounds that the approach to the industrial estate is already too congested to take additional traffic from a large housing development.

They believe the traffic jams that are already caused by the dozen or more coaches and minibuses serving the school would lead to even greater chaos.

Coaches have to line up in the industrial estate service road when delivering and collecting boys. Together with the congestion caused by the cars of parents, the residents say the additional pressure would be unbearable.

Another of the reasons cited by the objectors is their fear that the subsoil of the proposed site includes hazardous asbestos roofing – and potential chemical waste -- left over after the demolition of earlier buildings on the site.