Wednesday, 27 May 2020 17:43

Uncertain future for container yard at High Barnet station

Written by
Nick Bove, electrical contractor Nick Bove, electrical contractor
 Scores of small businesses and traders who store goods, tools and equipment in a container yard claim their future has been totally overlooked and ignored by Transport for London in the plan to build 292 flats on land around High Barnet tube station.

Container Safe Ltd, which rents out 120 self-storage containers in the former station coal yard, intends to join other objectors in opposing the plan once TfL submits a planning application to Barnet Council, possibly in mid-June.
A campaign group objecting to the proposed development – Hands Off High Barnet! – has already enrolled 800 supporters and attracted over 2,500 signatures for an online petition protesting at the density of high-rise flats and loss of most of the car park.
Among the traders complaining about the lack of warning or consultation is High Barnet electrical contractor Nick Bove who keeps tools and equipment in one of the containers and who fears that he will have to relocate yet again.
“TfL and Barnet Council are showing a total disregard for local businesses and our need for safe storage space,” says Mr Bove.
“High Barnet is losing so many local jobs because it keeps giving planning permission for flats to be built on light industrial and commercial sites. There is just nowhere for us to go.”

Paul and Bev Meehan, who run Container Safe, say TfL has failed to either approach or consult them over future use of the station yard, where other tenants, including JDC Scaffolding, have also complained at the lack of communication.
“All we know is that our three-year lease of the container yard is being replaced from July with a rolling three-month contract, so we face months, if not years of uncertainty, just hanging on,” says Mr Meehan.
“All we can hope for is that our objections carry some weight. Rumour has it that TfL and their developers Taylor Wimpey want to start work on the development in 2021.
“Who knows what will happen. Judging by the time it took to redevelop Barnet Football Ground and the delays in redeveloping the industrial site at Brakeshear House and Bath Place, we might be here for some years yet, but this no way to treat established businesses.
“What make us so angry is that an impact statement on Barnet Council’s website says there would be no disruption to commercial life if flats were built on land around the station – that totally ignore our existence.”

Revised plans for the development were unveiled in November 2019, reducing the numbers of flats from 450 to 292, cutting the number of blocks from eight to six and reducing their height to six to seven storeys instead of 10 to 12.
The Barnet Society welcomed the limited steps taken in the new plan but considered the revised proposals still had major failings.
The six high-rise blocks were “monotonous and would dominate views” up Barnet Hill; long-term parking spaces would be cut to a sixth of current capacity; and the one-way access would be hazardous for both pedestrians and traffic.

Robin Bishop, chair of the society, says that the latest drawings suggest there will be little difference in the final plans for the site and if that proved to be the case and there were no further modifications, the society was likely to object.
The overall result would be over development of the station site that was not sympathetic to the area. Comments would be invited before the society submitted its objections to Barnet Council.
One initiative might help businesses and traders who use the container yard for storage is the possibility that consultants drawing up the Chipping Barnet Community Plan have been asked to consider where more provision can be made for workshops and studios in and around High Barnet.

Nick Bove fears ideas for enterprise hubs and the like are not going to be of any use for tenants of light industrial sites like the station yard.
“Businesses like this attract traffic and can be noisy. Even if there were vacant premises in and around the town centre, we would not be welcome as there now are many more flats above shops and offices along the High Street and residents would complain.”
Mr Bove believes the heart of the problem is Barnet Council’s failure to provide sites for commercial and light industrial use.
His last lock-up garage in Finchley had been repeatedly broken into and previous premises at the Meadow Works site on the A1000 had proved to be unsatisfactory.
“Increasingly the small firms that used to be welcome in High Barnet are being driven out into Hertfordshire, to Hatfield and Stevenage, or places like Luton and that generates more traffic as contractors have to drive in to serve North London.”






  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 June 2020 06:29 posted by Terry Cakebread

    Apart from anything else (e.g. blight on the skyline). We are worried about the lack of parking space. One 6th of spaces and 292 more flats - how will that work?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 June 2020 11:05 posted by Nick Saul

    I would add that hundreds of jobs are likely to be lost if the businesses with storage units at High Barnet Station are evicted. Each of the 120 self storage containers represents at least one local job while some of them many, many more. Many of these jobs are those of local people. These are jobs that will be gone if alternative premises can not be found, a near impossible task.

    Similarly with the scaffolding yard. Scaffolding is essential for building and maintaining the sort of homes we should perhaps be seeing built rather than the modular high rise, high density estate we would have forced upon use with the High Barnet Station proposals.

    The faults of this scheme are simply not confined to an extreme adverse impact on local parking and through that the viability of High Barnet's increasingly damaged Town Centre. I would argue and have argued the proposed cramped apartments, with cramped corridors, stairwells and lifts on a cramped site with cramped outside spaces and exceedingly poor access have always been inappropriate. In the new normal of any post (or ongoing) pandemic world they would be an obscenity.

    I know many people find the containers unattractive. In reality the site operators have worked hard to ensure they are well maintained and tidily arranged. I would respectfully suggest they have far less impact on the character of the town than the proposed estate. I am confident when the people of Barnet see the final plans they will be shocked and agree with me on this point at least. The development is of a whole different order of magnitude. Its impact on this site and over the wide area over which it would be seen would be staggering.

    The containers are in reality stacked far lower than the proposed row of apartment blocks and act as a guide to the height of them. It is argued whether the the buildings would be the height of 8, 9 or 10 containers. You will soon know. All this is happening now. As the article says final plans are scheduled to be submitted to the council some time this month.

    I know the argument that homes come before jobs and before transport but all are essential to a community. Whatever the future looks like it will need jobs, it will need transport. That transport will need hubs properly served by road vehicles including buses, cabs and yes, even private cars. They will not work as just a train station stranded half way up a hill and with appalling pedestrian access. It will not need the types of homes so small, densely packed and inaccessible they would have been condemned as a recipe for social deprivation and the spreading of disease 100 years ago. Have we really already forgotten the lessons of the last century and even the last three months?


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