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It's hard to overstate the importance of getting the response to this right. There will have to be flats (and that can be positive for Barnet), butBarnet isn't a dormitory suburb and it is not in the interest of its inhabitants, its businesses or the local and London economy and environment that it becomes one.

The Council has a fantastic opportunity to dust off its moribund town centre strategy and demand a response from the developers that reflects everything contemparay urbanists (sorry if people don't like the term - but they exist and they know stuff) can tell us about getting this sort of thing right.

The site is as significant in Barnet's urban fabric as the Spires. We should demand at least the same level of public consultation. But the architectural challenge is more complex and calls for a more sophisticated response.

What we don't need is an off the peg design that gets tweaked a bit to get the Council of the develpoer's back.

It would be good to see three alternative proposals, each meeting three (challenging) requirements:

- a high proportion of affordable housing;
- no change to buiness type/floorspace;
- application of the highest envirionmental standards.

I'm a realist, but I'm sure everyone in the Barnet planning department would like to have the chance to apply best contemporary practice in a really interesting location. Aim high!
Let's bring the Stirling Prize to Barnet.