Sunday, 14 July 2019 08:52

Proposed Playing Fields Hubs are serious threat to green belt

Written by Robin Bishop
Barnet Playing Fields – The box indicates the probable bulk of the proposed building Barnet Playing Fields – The box indicates the probable bulk of the proposed building
The Council’s proposed master plan for Barnet and King George V Playing Fields, and especially its building on Barnet Playing Fields, would be a gross intrusion into the Green Belt.
  • It would be contrary to Council, Mayor of London and Government policies.
  • It would set a very bad precedent for future developments in the Green Belt.
  • It requires a fundamental re-think of the building brief and location.

Barnet Council is carrying out a third public consultation on a master plan for Barnet Playing Fields (north of the Dollis Brook) and King George V Playing Fields (south of the Brook).

The first consultation was carried out last summer with no plans and very little publicity.

Phase 2 consultation took place last autumn, and contained a draft master plan for two new sports hubs, and for a new community café and additional play facilities on Barnet Playing Fields. In December the Barnet Society submitted a response, but received no feedback.

The latest consultation closes on 28 July. The draft master plan shows the skate / BMX park in a better position, but otherwise differs in only minor respects from the previous one. Most of our previous comments therefore still stand.

The Barnet Society welcomes the Council’s intention to restore Barnet & King George V Playing Fields, and to widen public access by providing a café with toilet facilities and play areas for children and their parents or carers. The present playing fields have historic, environmental and landscape value.

The Barnet Society could support the right kind of building, the right landscape features, in the right place, and to high standards of design and environmental quality. But the published scheme does not so far demonstrate any of these. Nor is its financial viability clear.

The Society Committee opposes the current proposals. Our basic objection is that the playing fields are within the Green Belt, which Barnet Council, the Mayor of London and the Government are all committed not to build on – and which the Barnet Society was founded to protect.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, February 2019) allows development of the Green Belt only in very special circumstances. The only exceptions allowable include:

the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of land or a change of use) for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation…

but the NPPF lays down a crucial condition:

…as long as the facilities preserve the openness of the Green Belt...

Barnet Council’s own commitment to the Green Belt is set out in its Local Plan:

We will create a greener Barnet by: protecting open spaces, including Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land…

Only six weeks ago, the Council demonstrated its commitment by refusing permission for 230 square metres of stables off Mays Lane.

The Council’s proposed building on Barnet Playing Fields would be five times the area of the stables and twice as tall. To permit it would be a flagrant breach of the Council’s own policy and set a dreadful precedent for other developers, who are queuing up to build on the Green Belt.

We have submitted a response to the consultation that covers this and other issues in detail.

The buildings proposed may be justifiable but they are in the wrong place. No attempt has been made to devise an overall plan for the area that makes best use of facilities in The Totteridge and Ark Pioneer Academies, the Table Tennis Centre, Hadley Wood Trust and the old cricket pavilion.

We also question several aspects of the landscape scheme, including the location of the proposed footbridge, fences around the Gaelic Football pitch and another multi-use games areas area, more artificial surfaces, parking for 66 cars, and yet more street and floodlighting – all of which will diminish wildlife in the area.

To the west and south along the Dollis valley, and elsewhere in Barnet such as Tudor Park, sports and community facilities have been built in the past with the best intentions, but have been under-used and left to decay. It would be stupid and irresponsible not to learn those lessons. A rethink is essential.

The proposals can be seen at:
https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/draft-masterplan-barnet-kinggeorgev-3 and at these venues:
Thursday 25th July 12pm – 4pm Rainbow Centre
Friday 26th July 10am – 1pm By the playground at Barnet Playing Fields

Have your own say before Sunday 28 July by completing the online questionnaire or writing to:
Greenspaces, LB of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP.

  

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9 comments

  • Comment Link Monday, 15 July 2019 11:29 posted by Local resident

    Green spaces should be for everyone, not just pension-age dog walkers.

    There are almost no community facilities for young people in the area at a time when there are serious concerns about youth crime, not to mention the amount of time kids spend indoors looking at devices.

    Anything that encourages young people to get out of their homes and get active in a safe and attractive environment can only be a good thing in my view.

  • Comment Link Friday, 19 July 2019 09:16 posted by Debs

    So you’d be happy with floodlights at night, more youngsters lurking around unsupervised, parking problems for local residents, noise and wildlife disturbed.... I can confirm I am neither a dog walker or a pensioner! Total overkill and ridiculous waste of money.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 20 July 2019 12:09 posted by Q Dighton

    I live locally and am not against some improvements to play areas and the local PARK environment BUT as planned so far these are awful.

    I would support a small, unobtrusively planned community hub with cafe and toilets but this is quite large. Clip and climb means a tower--totally unsuitable in a green/ green belt area! I gather this replaces the Rainbow Center.

    The skate park would be noisy and is still too near housing.

    There are too many, too wide paths/ cycle ways. There is no need for new paths between the planned pitches and on both sides of the narrow triangle of land where the play areas are planned. Part of the appeal of a park/ natural area is walking over grass, without bikes and tarmac.

    The proposed parking extension at the end of Ark has a narrow blind corner. There would be constant traffic blocks, queues, pollution and danger to pedestrians esp children using play areas.

    I gather the rugby fields at the bottom will be fenced off- so not for the community. The proposals so far dont make this or whether there will be floodlighting clear.

    This area is a local, green and green belt, natural area. Any proposals need to reflect and improve this not trample all over it!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 23 July 2019 12:56 posted by Local resident

    I repeat, there is almost nothing for young people to do locally.

    We need to stop labelling them in such a negative way. To quote a previous comment, children are described as "lurking around unsupervised"! It sounds like a sentence lifted from the Daily Mail.

    Honestly, they're fine. Talk to one, you may be surprised.

    We seem to want a world where kids have the opportunity to develop and play outdoors but not in my back yard thank you very much.

    I'm afraid that attitude is unsustainable and I repeat my point - green spaces, whether Green Belt or not - should be for the enjoyment of everyone.

    I welcome the proposals and I welcome the proposed farm adjacent to Totteridge Academy - both great projects to get young people outside and 'lurking' to their heart's content.

  • Comment Link Friday, 26 July 2019 05:43 posted by Debs

    I do talk to them - children that is, as I am a teacher so please don’t be so condescending and no I don’t read the Daily Mail. I also live in Grasvenor Avenue and there is already no end of trouble with teenagers at night. By the way this isn’t because they have nothing to do, because I am talking around midnight. A smaller development leaving the integrity of the area is fine BUT this is overkill.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 01 August 2019 08:13 posted by David

    Agree with the positive comments above. Something along these lines would be an asset to the local community if properly managed etc.. Have seen it work very effectively elsewhere so no reason why it couldn’t in Barnet. Full support from this local resident!

  • Comment Link Thursday, 01 August 2019 17:14 posted by Helen Howson

    Please can you advise us of the councils proposal to put an activity centre on and near abouts Hadley common and King George’s playing fields... is this council land? Or is it left to the common people of Barnet? Is this true that this proposal has been accepted by friends of Hadley or who has accepted it? So very worried as we are getting a spate of overbuilding in barnet and surrounding areas.. please advise us as we believe that Robin Bishop of Barnet Society totally disapproves... we are very worried as maybe Hadley common has a charter and once the common is built on the charter would be annulled... thank you for reading this..

  • Comment Link Thursday, 08 August 2019 10:20 posted by Mo

    Posted by Local Resident: New Barnet Leisure Centre : Whilst we welcome good amenities for the wider comunity The council have built a new public footpath leading onto a multi games area and tennis courts with gates leading from the path onto the play area. They have erected flood lights overlooking residents gardens too. This has all sprung up without any consultation with those affected. The games area is immediately behind our homes approx 10ft from our short (27ft) back garden. This could happen to you, do not be complacent the council want to pursue their flag ship projects without regard to individuals. Had they built the games area just a few yards away from our homes there wouldn't be a problem. We are challenging this path etc. but this is in place without our knowledge has happened !. They obviously had no regard for a few individuals health and safety. Challenge and keep informed as best you can do not trust they will do the correct thing.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 21 September 2019 12:55 posted by Anton Dallimore

    I think the plans are fantastic idea for the next generation. People are so quick to hate yes there will be noise from the skatepark but after a little while that noise will blend in with every day life. It will bring more business to highbarnet. Maybe the empty high street will become more alive and dont hate skaters at least they ain't vandelisin the local shopping centre or college cause they will finally have some where to go. Think of the the next generation there is plenty of green spaces around but highbarnet need this to help grow its community.

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