Objectors to the building of 152 new homes on the Whalebones farmland in Wood Street, Barnet, are rallying opposition ahead of a public inquiry in the autumn.
A long running planning dispute over the proposed redevelopment has prompted a public hearing before a planning inspector – a reflection of the depth and extent of local anger over the loss of the last remaining woods and fields within the Wood Street conservation area.
Monica Gilbert – seen above at the Whalebones entrance – lives close by in Wood Street. She is hoping that two dozen or more nearby residents will join her in writing to the inspector. She is ready to speak on their behalf at the inquiry.
The closing date for objections – see details below – is Friday 18 June.
Mrs Gilbert has the support of the Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers, who is encouraging objectors to do what they can to ensure that the Whalebones farmland is “saved for future generations” as an irreplaceable green space.
In her letter of opposition to the planning inspector – which Mrs Gilbert is circulating to nearby residents – she says that any development on the Whalebones land would be against the spirit and in contravention of the Wood Street conservation area.
“Any development would deprive the local community of a quiet place, that is a natural sanctuary in the midst of the noise, heavy traffic and pollution that is rampant in our society.”
Future generations would not thank the residents of the day for the loss of a much-loved green vista and the felling of mature trees.
A housing development on this scale that would add greatly to the pollution and traffic congestion in Wood Street and Barnet Road which was a through route serving ten local schools.
Theresa Villiers – seen here outlining her opposition at a public meeting in 2018 – has been at the forefront of the campaign to preserve Whalebones.
She pledged constituents as long ago as 2015 that she would “lie down in front of the bulldozers” if the go ahead was ever given to redevelop this much-cherished green space between Barnet Hospital and Wood Street.
She told the Barnet Society that she regretted that the owners of the site, the trustees of the Gwyneth Cowing estate, were pressing ahead with an appeal against the decision of Barnet Council’s planning committee to reject the planning application.
“A public inquiry will provide the chance for residents to emphasise once again how crucial it is to conserve open spaces in suburbs like High Barnet.
“Allowing new homes to be built at Whalebones would seriously damage the conservation area and harm local wildlife and biodiversity. The government has recently announced it will set an ambitious new target for species conservation. This makes it more important than ever to save Whalebones.”
For well over 50 years the tenant farmer at Whalebones has been Peter Mason whose home is Well Cottage, at the top of Wellhouse Lane.
Under the redevelopment plans, Hill Residential Ltd say that Mr Mason, and his wife Jill, would be provided with sufficient land beside their home for rearing geese and poultry.
Since Mr Mason has been recuperating after a fall, Mrs Mason has been looking after a much-reduced flock of poultry which currently includes bantams, four ducks and two geese – Dotty and Goz – who are both pretty determined characters.
Well Cottage was originally two cottages, dating back to around 1650, and it was the home of well keepers who supplied water for the horses of the carters and drovers who stopped off in Barnet when taking hay and forage into London or when leaving with loads of horse manure and ash.