In her maiden speech to the House of Commons, Theresa pledged to fight to protect the green belt in Barnet: for the sake of the environment, and to preserve the quality of life for Barnet’s constituents. Since then, Theresa has worked tirelessly to oppose inappropriate development and protect Barnet’s green spaces, standing alongside residents at planning meetings to support their campaigns:
- Working with the ‘Save New Barnet’ residents group to back new homes on brownfield land instead of a supermarket;
- Opposing overdevelopment at Cat Hill and, when the application was passed by Labour-controlled Enfield Council, helping residents with the problems caused by the site;
- Blocking plans for a waste disposal facility at Pinkham Way;
- Opposing plans for eight storey blocks of flats at the North London Business Park;
- Backing residents campaigning against a burial ground being placed on green belt land in Arkley;
- Campaigning to conserve the historic fields at Whalebones Park in High Barnet.
Read more about current and past campaigns below:
Fight to protect Arkley’s green belt
In May 2016, proposals were set out at a public exhibition for a natural burial ground to be placed on the fields behind Barnet Gate Lane and Rockways in Arkley. This would mean thousands of burial plots being placed on green belt land. The same fields have been under threat before. In 1996 a previous application for a burial ground got as far as the Secretary of State before being turned down as inappropriate for green belt land.
On hearing of the proposal, Theresa wrote to residents expressing her concerns: the response came back loud and clear that residents – 99% of respondents – did not want a burial ground on the land. Theresa then set up meetings with concerned local residents, who came together to form an action group to fight the plans. They held a public meeting in November attended by around 150 people.
The campaign group can be found at http://www.savearkleygreenbelt.com/ and any local residents with views on this issue are urged to get in touch.
November 2016: Residents continue fight to save Arkley’s green spaces
September 2016: Villiers launches fight to save Arkley’s green belt
No to tower blocks at NLBP
Theresa Villiers MP and local councillor, Lisa Rutter, have pledged to fight plans to place five eight-storey tower blocks at the North London Business Park. The proposed high-rise, high-density housing would result in the construction of 1,200 homes overlooking houses in Ashbourne Avenue, Weirdale Avenue, Howard Close and Brunswick Park Gardens. There is also a real threat that access to the site could include an entrance through Weirdale Avenue and Ashbourne Avenue, residential roads which already have a high number of parked cars.
Gravely concerned, Theresa and Lisa demanded urgent meetings with the Council and with the developers to set out their strong opposition to the plans. In March 2016, Theresa wrote to residents asking for their opinion. The response was overwhelmingly negative. Issues raised included parking and traffic, and the pressure that such a dense development would place on public services such as GP surgeries and schools.
Theresa and Lisa will continue to put pressure on the developer to try and ensure that any development is suitable for the area, that access is not through residential roads, and that provision is made to increase local service capacity to match the increased numbers of residents.
September 2016: No to tower blocks: Villiers keeps up pressure on NLBP
February 2016: No to tower blocks at the North London Business Park
Save Whalebones Park!
In 2016, news came that the trustees of the estate of the late Gwyneth Cowing, which owns the historic Whalebones Park in High Barnet, had asked Barnet Council to put the park on the list of sites suitable for housing development. The site has a unique history, currently consists mainly of woods and farmland, and is surrounded by a conservation area.
Working with local Conservative councillors, Theresa asked for an urgent meeting with the trustees to appeal to them to think again about any plans to build over the property. She also pressed the council to reject the proposal by the trustees that Whalebones Park goes on the list of land suitable for housing development. She raised the matter in Parliament and has written to local residents to seek their views. The fight continues.
October 2016: Save Whalebones Park!
February 2016: Villiers leads fight to save historic Whalebones Park
‘Save New Barnet’
In February 2010, plans were published for the disused gasworks site in Albert Road that would place an Asda superstores right at the heart of New Barnet village. Then Tesco starting buying up land too. Local residents, backed by Theresa Villiers, formed the ‘Save New Barnet’ action group. Their goal was to stop the plans for a new Asda or Tesco and put pressure on the council and on the developers to find an alternative solution for the gasworks site. Save New Barnet then produced credible plans for new homes on the site instead. A dialogue began which saw Asda and its advisors work together with the residents on plans for new homes. These received planning consent.
She also petitioned Barnet Council to try and ensure that the CIL funding (a contribution to the local community paid by developers) from the developments was devoted to improvements in New Barnet and East Barnet rather than elsewhere in the borough.
Thanks to the work by Theresa, Barnet Council and local residents, this brownfield site will now be used for new homes, not an unnecessary superstore. The site was sold to One Housing who submitted a second planning application which amends the plans. Theresa has said she is not able to support the changes proposed and hopes that One Housing will amend their plans.
Cat Hill – standing up for residents
Alongside local residents in East Barnet, Theresa worked for several years to oppose inappropriate, dense, high-rise development at Cat Hill because she was concerned that it would destroy local green space, worsen flood risks, and place serious strain on local services and infrastructure.
Despite widespread opposition from residents, the planning application to build on Cat Hill was eventually passed by Labour-controlled Enfield Council and work on the site began in 2014. Theresa has kept up the fight to defend her constituents, wading in to battle when, as predicted, houses and gardens in East Barnet were flooded after hundreds of trees were removed from the development site.
February 2016: Villiers wades in on behalf of flooded residents
Pinkham Way – blocked!
In 2011 the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) proposed to place a waste recycling unit in Pinkham Way next to the North Circular in Friern Barnet. The site was originally a sewage works, but in the 50 years since the works closed down, it became a green space, and has recently been classified as Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The proposed new plant would have been less than 100m from housing and with 14 schools within a 1.5km radius.
A long campaign followed. Theresa worked extensively with then local Councillor, Kate Salinger, to support resident opposition and lobbied the NLWA to prevent residents’ lives being blighted by a waste disposal plant on the doorstep with thousands of lorries contributing to traffic and air pollution.
A major victory was achieved when the NLWA withdrew the planning application and decided that the existing waste disposal facility in Edmonton was sufficient. Theresa kept up the pressure, encouraging residents to respond to consultations and support the plans for a replacement waste facility to be placed at a more suitable site in Edmonton.
The NWLA still owns the Pinkham Way site and so the threat of a waste disposal plant could be revived in the future. Theresa will continue to monitor the situation on behalf of her constituents who live around the site.
December 2014: Villiers urges residents to protect Pinkham Way