EBRA News

New Barnet Gasworks "Victoria Quarter" REFUSED and NO FURTHER APPEALS

Fairview New Homes and One Housing submitted a series of revisions to their Victoria Quarter planning application.

The Planning Committee refused the plans, so the developers appealed to the Government's Planning Inspectorate.

The Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal, so the developers started a judicial review of the Planning Inspector.

On 11th November 2022 the High Court Judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, stated that: "None of the grounds are arguable. They repeat submissions made to the Inspector which he, in the rational exercise of his planning judgment, rejected for legally adequate reasons... His approach is unarguably impeccable"

So that is the end of the road for Fairview. There is nothing else they can do to try to force the scheme through.

We wait to see what they will do with the site next.

[updated on 11-Nov-2022]

View the detailed PDF here

Improving the Gym

The outdoor gym is coming to the end of its life, and some equipment has been removed already. East Barnet ward councillors have obtained two quotations to replace it:

Option 1 costs £71,521.32 and includes equipment very similar to that which has recently been installed in Victoria Recreation Ground, which is proving very popular.

Option 2 costs £33,975.03 and includes simpler equipment that has a more limited fitness range.

 The aim would be if we go ahead to seek the necessary CIL funding for both schemes from the North Area Committee.

View the detailed PDF here

New Playground

East Barnet councillors are proposing a new children’s playground at the north end of Oak Hill Park near Littlegrove and St Mary’s School and feedback would be welcome.

The proposal put together is for a playground for 2-11 years, which would be fenced. The cost of this proposal is £99,803.06. When and if the funding is agreed there will still need to be public consultation around them. £25K was previously allocated by the council when Cllr Laurie Williams first proposed it, so the balance would be required

Update from Phil Cohen on Sat 05-Nov-2022:

"We as councillors have decided to put on hold the proposal for a new children’s playground at the north end of Oak Hill Park, given that opinion amongst residents is divided on the issue. We are looking instead at modernisation of the existing play areas at the south end of the park. Officers have been asked to identify options for this with our play contractor and come back with costings, after which we can meet on site to identify the best option to progress."


Notice Boards

There are two notice boards in Oak Hill Park - by the Golf and by the Café - and we now have keys to them. If anyone has information they would like placed there, please contact us. Nothing political, and no commercial advertising, of course.

Barnet's Local Plan

EBRA has been considering the implications of Barnet's draft Local Plans for several years. We have submitted many comments and suggestions to the Council's strategic planning team, and worked with FORAB on a Barnet-wide response.

The final draft is now undergoing "Examination in Public" which continues into October / November 2022.

You can read our MP Theresa Villiers' report on her involvement during the first week here.

Proposal to Charge for Tennis Courts

Mat Gunyon, the Council's "Head of Greenspaces" would like your opinion on charging to use tennis courts:

"We want to ensure that tennis facilities are sustainable in years to come and to consider ways to encourage more people to play tennis more often.

Specifically, this consultation aims to:

  • understand the local demand and interest in playing tennis

  • explore the options with the tennis community for parks tennis management that could apply, based on ideas and good practice elsewhere

  • explore the expansion of the pay and play model applied for tennis court hire

  • explore the potential for the future operation and/or management of parks tennis"

The consultation at engage.barnet.gov.uk/tennis-in-barnet-consultation closes on 19th September 2022

Large Rave / K-Pop Festivals NOT going ahead in Oak Hill Park

On Friday 8th April 2022 residents were alarmed to see that tickets were on sale for a large Sun City rave and K-Pop music festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend. There had been no consultation or information about these large and potentially disruptive and damaging events. "Sun City is the longest-running UK Garage event. Having flown the flag around Europe to the clubbers raving islands of Ayia Napa, Ibiza, Faliraki, Dubai, and club shows all around the UK in some of the most iconic venues." Not exactly what you would expect to happen in the local green amenity space with its brook and nature reserve.

We immediately posted a poll on our Facebook group to gauge members' views, and over 96% of those who responded were against these events. So we contacted the Council and ward councillors for help to stop them.

On Friday 29th April, East Barnet ward councillor Felix Aresco (previously Felix Byers) sent this email:

"Dear Rob,

Thank you again, first, for bringing these events to the community's attention and, second, for managing EBRA members' expectations while we have sought to fix this.

I have received well over two hundred emails from residents about the planned events, as well as speaking to residents about the events on doorsteps, and the weight of opposition has been truly overwhelming.

As we have said before, Nicole and I were as horrified as you and other residents to discover that council officers had pursued plans for two music festivals in Oak Hill Park during the August Bank Holiday weekend. The plans were unprecedented, and had evolved in discussions with the event organisers without any prior notification to or consultation with local councillors or the local community in East Barnet.

Notwithstanding being unaware of the plans until recently, please allow me to apologise unreservedly on behalf of the Council for the understandable anxiety and upset that the possibility of these events has caused.

As I have already reassured the many residents who have raised their concerns with me, I completely agree that Oak Hill Park is not an appropriate venue for these events or any others like them. We are a quiet, residential community, blessed with a beautiful but ecologically delicate park. It was insensitive for Oak Hill Park to ever be considered.

Apologies that we have been unable to respond sooner with solid, positive news.

After raising these events urgently with council officers and with the leader of the Council late one Friday night [8th April 2022], Nicole and I were initially given the impression that terms were still subject to contract. It subsequently transpired that, in fact, that was not the case and that there was legally binding agreement between the Council and the organisers for these events to take place in Oak Hill Park. It was immediately resolved at a political level then, although more complicated, to do whatever necessary to stop the events.

There has been a period of intense commercial renegotiation since to relocate the events out of Oak Hill Park. Because of the commercially and legally sensitive nature of the discussions, I and other councillors have been unable to say much more over the last couple of weeks. We could not unilaterally state that the events would not take place in Oak Hill Park without risking the Council's legal and commercial position - and thereby, the potential cost to taxpayers.

I am now happy to confirm, however, that, having directed officers earlier this month to resolve this mess, these events will not take place in Oak Hill Park.

The organisers will instead seek an alternative venue, or venues, for these festivals - and categorically, for the avoidance of any doubt, not in East Barnet. This represents, I think, the best outcome in these circumstances.

Oak Hill Park and surrounding roads are safe from the chaos and damage that could otherwise have been done, but tickets already sold will be honoured by the organisers elsewhere - outside of East Barnet, at a venue to be chosen, negotiated, and confirmed by the organisers, not even necessarily in the borough.

Of course, Oak Hill Park should never have been proposed for these events. Subject to the local elections next week, I will be keen to explore in more detail with the Council, first, how plans progressed so far without any alert to or conversation with the local community and, second, how we might amend or introduce new policies in this area to prohibit council officers from ever reaching this state again. The situation has been intolerable all round.

Our parks and other green spaces are among our most invaluable community assets. They are foremost among the reasons why we enjoy living here, and the last thing we would want to see is them damaged in the way that other special green spaces, like Trent Park, have been by other councils that have licensed wholly inappropriate events attracting large, often rowdy audiences from out-of-area.

Again, the good news is that Oak Hill Park is safe. The music events will not take place there.

Once again, sincere apologies for the upset that this saga has caused, about a park close to many hearts.

Yours,

Felix

Cllr Felix Byers

Conservative Member for East Barnet

London Borough of Barnet"

We rapidly spread this good news by email newsletter and on Social Media, and there was a palpable collective sigh of relief.

To questions posted about the contractual situation, Felix also confirmed "Just to clarify, the delay was caused by working to find a solution that avoided a penalty. So, fortunately, no cost to taxpayers."

The organisers eventually decided to relocate to the Barnet Playing Fields between Barnet Lane and Grasvenor Avenue.

[updated on 06-Aug-2022]

Cockfosters Station Car Park SAVED!

EBRA has been working with CLARA and the Save Cockfosters team for the past two years to fine-tune residents' objections to this scheme to build skyscrapers on one of the highest hills in London, and persuade politicians to keep the essential park-and-ride facility.

Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, has vetoed the plans because destroying the park-and-ride facility would severely hamper passengers' ability to access TfL's transport network.

This is such a good news story - within hours it was reported by our colleagues the Barnet Society:
barnetsociety.org.uk/transport-secretary-torpedoes-plan-for-building-tower-blocks-at-cockfosters-tube-station

Arnos Grove Station Car Parks CLOSING

The plans to destroy the car park and build flats there were unanimously rejected by Enfield's Planning Committee.

The developers and TfL appealed to the Government's Planning Inspectorate to try to overturn the decision.

Enfield Council decided not to contest the appeal, so the Save Cockfosters team and local councillors stepped in to make the case for keeping the car park.

After 3½ days of an intensive inquiry, with our team cross-examined by TfL's QC, the Planning Inspector decided in favour of the developers. Notice has been given to car park users that they will close permanently in the autumn.

[updated on 06-Aug-2022]

North London Business Park DECISION PENDING

North London Business Park development could double its size! It's now too late to comment in the formal consultation period, we are awaiting Barnet Council's decision. Full details on our dedicated campaign website nlbp.eastbar.net

Oak Hill Wood

The Friends of Oak Hill Park guide to the Nature Reserve and Oak Hill Wood is now available to read or download here

New maps show the entrances and trails in the Reserve:

Oak Hill Park & Wood Video


This video of the park and wood was created in 2020 by Alan Last who (due to shielding from Covid-19) went on daily walks just after dawn.
This provided exceptional views of our area without many people around.

The video is nearly 20 minutes long, so sit back and enjoy!

The Bandstand

We're on a quest to find out more about the Bandstand in its prime.
Barnet Museum kindly sent
an article from The Barnet Press written in 1943 about the "holiday-at-home" activities in the park during WW2: