Advocating Sustainable Development, North London




Fiona has been an active member of the Save New Barnet (SNB) Group since 2008.  This group was set up by the local community originally to resist a new supermarket development on a vacant former gasworks site.  Fiona contributed to an alternative vision for the site which involved development for housing and a new swimming pool.  The supermarket developers decided to move on, and a series of permissions were given between 2015 and 2017 for a residential development and a new swimming pool all of which received support from SNB and the local community.

The new swimming pool was built, and the residential development was commenced with foundation and basement works.  However, the residential site was purchased by another developer who, having commenced work, submitted an application in 2020 that more than doubled the permitted density.  SNB strongly resisted these proposals, and I assisted Fiona in preparing a report analysing their shortcomings in terms of design, which were all the typical "symptoms of overdevelopment", including poor sunlight/daylight, exposure to railway noise, overheating, poor amenity and poor apartment orientation and layout.  I joined another member of SNB speaking against the proposals at committee and the application was refused unanimously.

In 2021, the developer submitted a revised application, with a slightly reduced density, but with largely the same layout and shortcomings.  SNB resisted the proposals again, and it was once again rejected at committee.  This time the developer took the decision to appeal, and a planning inquiry was held in the very hot summer of 2022, which was pertinent, given the significant overheating issues associated with the proposals.  Over the two-week inquiry Fiona acted as expert witness and I took it in turns with another SNB colleague to act as advocate, questioning the developers evidence.  The appeal failed.  The developer tried to take the decision to judicial review, but the judge ruled that there was no case to answer.

In 2023, a further application has been submitted by the developer.  This is improved in some respects but still has major shortcomings  compared to the scheme that has permission and could have been built by now.  Fiona and I are continuing to support SNB in pressing for sustainable development of the site.