Tuesday, 07 March 2017 15:30

Housing proposed for Whalebones

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Whalebones in the sunlight Whalebones in the sunlight
Building houses on the fields around Whalebones, between Wood Street and Barnet Hospital, has possibly moved a step closer following an agreement between the landowners and a leading housebuilder, Hill, of Waltham Abbey, Essex.

Trustees for the late Gwyneth Cowing, who lived in Whalebones for many years, say the newly-appointed developers will now explore the possibilities for developing up to 11 of the 14 acres of woods and farm land that is within the Wood Street conservation area, and contains numerous trees protected by tree preservation orders.

The earliest an application for planning permission might be made would be towards the end of this year. Initially the aim is to promote the site for inclusion in Barnet Council’s new local plan for housing development within the borough.

If approval for housing could be obtained – a prospect that has been resisted in previous years by Barnet Council, and is currently opposed by several leading councillors and the Chipping Barnet MP, Mrs Theresa Villiers – Hill would carry out any development, by then having purchased the site.

The trustees say that any plans to redevelop Whalebones would provide for community use and would include a studio for the Barnet Guild of Artists and space for the Barnet District Beekeepers, two groups that Miss Cowing wanted to have continued use of their premises on the estate for “so long as practicable”.

A new development would also leave room for some green space, accessible to the public.

An undertaking has also been given to the tenant farmer Peter Mason and his wife -- whose flocks of geese and hens are such a feature of the Whalebones estate -- that they will be provided free accommodation on the site for their lifetime.

The trustees say they have no option but to seek permission to develop Whalebones in view of the cost of maintaining the estate and their lack of income, and the increasing incidents of trespass.

The 11-acre site, bounded by Wood Street, Wellhouse Lane, and the new Elmbank development, excludes the three acres that belong to Whalebones house, which is privately owned.

The property recently changed hands and the new owners are understood to have told the trustees they are opposed to development on such an important green “oasis”.

This is very close to the Green Belt and it is a unique site, and it needs a unique solution.

The area that might be developed are the fields both sides of the house, next to Wellhouse Lane and alongside Elmbank.

In their statement, the trustees said they realised the significance of the Whalebones woods and fields. “This is very close to the Green Belt and it is a unique site, and it needs a unique solution.”

Robin Bishop, who leads for the Barnet Society on planning and environmental issues, said that if development of the site was accepted in principle by Barnet Council, the planning department should insist that any housing is of high design quality, and that the development of the site must be “an exemplar of environment sustainability, retaining as much existing natural habitat as possible.”

The trustees selected Hill given their track record on design – having won the Whathouse? Best Development Award in each of the last 3 years – and in working in partnership with numerous landowners who are interested in providing a lasting legacy. (https://www.hill.co.uk/about-hill/profile/.)

Hill has appointed architects Pollard Thomas Edwards to develop options for the site; Beacon Planning to advise on heritage matters; and Savills as planning consultants.

Initially preparatory work will include site investigation, and heritage and archaeological surveys.

The trustees have undertaken to consult the Barnet Society and other interest groups on the brief and design options within the next few months, “not least given Miss Cowing having been a founder member, and very mindful of what her wishes would have been in the present circumstances 30 years after her death.”


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 19:59 posted by Ruth Lederman

    The development of Whalebones will change the unique character of the local area. The development of Elmbank already is going to see increase of traffic and pressures on local services. Further concentrated development must be opposed.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:32 posted by Jenny Petch

    No no no no noooooooo !

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:32 posted by Lindsey Sharp

    Dreadful news

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:33 posted by Claire Jones

    That's terrible news for Barnet!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:33 posted by Tim Webster

    Build the houses quick before the godawful NIMBYs assemble!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:34 posted by Tim Webster

    Oh-oh, too late. LOL.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:34 posted by Jennifer Chapman


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:48 posted by Peter Lyons

    This all goes against the expressed wishes of the previous owner who left it in Trust. What are the Trustees thinking of ?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 07 March 2017 22:56 posted by Jean bill

    There are still more suitable areas to build houses on.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 08 March 2017 01:52 posted by Cynthia price

    Building like this would be the demise of Barnet. The history, the green space that is already a conserve and the visitors to the places of interest held together by the people of Barnet now.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 08 March 2017 08:36 posted by Elaine Davies

    Nooooo noooooo nooooo

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 08 March 2017 08:36 posted by Richard Sharp

    Soon there'll be no more green space left

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 08 March 2017 20:56 posted by Susanne Bowers

    Please leave the fields around Whalebones alone. There is little to no green space that side of Barnet and the woods and fields around Whalebones presents a valuable open space between Victorian Barnet and the more modern developments on the borders with Arkley. As Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, said: “We all recognise the need for more housing, but this does not mean that we should erode the character of the neighbourhood and encroach on historic green spaces like Whalebones in order to do it. Whalebones Park is the kind of land that it is crucial to protect."

  • Comment Link Thursday, 09 March 2017 10:45 posted by Carla Herrmann

    This a uniquely attractive place and we as residents cannot allow this. Miss Cowing loathed development and would be horrified by her trustees action. Why are developers being allowed to constantly attack Arkley, we already have the ugly and intrusive Linden development which is totally out of place in the neighbourhood, find somewhere else.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 14 March 2017 21:21 posted by rob

    The nimbys are out in force again. This is the perfect place for building high quality housing.

    - It's not public space - it's not a park, no one has access
    - It's not in the green belt (you can't object because it's 'near' the green belt, come on...)
    - It's a field that sits between a very very busy road and a busy hospital, hardly a green oasis.
    - It's a 15 minute walk to the tube. We need to be building in London near to existing public transport and this is in a pefect place

    I agree the housing should be high quality and zero carbon but you can't object to any change.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 15 March 2017 14:07 posted by Martin McNally

    This goes against every wish of Miss Cowing who left the land for the people of Barnet to use. There is a variety of fauna and flora on site and this will all be lost, it needs protection and full looking after. The land can continue as Miss Cowing willed it to be as it is or as a community farm etc.

    This will not happen without a fight, the area is already overcrowded with parking and congestion and is totally in the wrong area for development.

  • Comment Link Friday, 17 March 2017 22:44 posted by Neil Kobish

    There seems to have been very little communication between the Trustees and Barnet residents on ways and means of funding the maintenance of Whalebones Park. Miss Cowing wanted the park to be available to the community. Have the Trustees looked into setting up a charitable trust fund by raising a public subscription from the Community?

  • Comment Link Saturday, 25 March 2017 18:21 posted by Tony

    If the trustees are no longer able to maintain Whalebones they should hand it over to the community to run with access to local residents for walking, cycling etc. There could be some minor development such as a cafe to help fund the costs of running the park.

  • Comment Link Monday, 17 April 2017 19:51 posted by Liz Osman

    I hope its ok to post a comment here as we don't actually live in the area yet - we are in the process of moving into a house in Arkley. Our one reservation about our move was the heavy traffic on the road leading into High Barnet - it's terrible. If we were not just about retired and not always having to get somewhere on time there is no way we could have considered moving to this area, and how the ambulances cope when every second counts I just can't imagine. From what I have read, the spirit of this generous legacy was based on ensuring the area remained an area for wildlife to thrive - I dread to think how much pollution is being thrown out by all of the cars sitting in queues already trying to get into the High Street and the damage it is doing to the environment -
    quite apart from the wildlife, we have to consider people including school children and people making their way to the hospital. Even though its clear people do need homes are there no better ways to provide them??

  • Comment Link Monday, 05 June 2017 21:37 posted by Munyard

    With the increased traffic from the hospital and the new homes at elmbank will put more pressure on the area. The green space of barnet should be maintained


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