Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has continued her campaign against plans by the Mayor of London to build tower blocks over the car park at Cockfosters station.
She has submitted a formal letter of objection to Enfield council, along with East Barnet Conservative councillors, Nicole Richer and Felix Byers. She has also been knocking on doors in Cockfosters to talk to constituents about what is happening and encourage them to object too.
Following a briefing by representatives of Transport for London and Connected Living, the people taking forward the project, Ms Villiers said "I am strongly opposed to these proposals from the Mayor and TfL. They would mean a significant urbanisation of the Cockfosters area. Tower blocks are totally inappropriate for an outer suburb like Cockfosters. They would loom over the important heritage sites of Trent Park and the classic 1930s designed station buildings. They would violate longstanding planning principles."
"I will be working with residents and local Conservative councillors to do everything I can to try to stop this development from going ahead. The Mayor should think again and scrap these plans. I relayed that message to TfL when I met them yesterday."
These are the detailed representations submitted to Enfield Council by Theresa Villiers MP, Cllr Felix Byers and Cllr Nicole Richer:
21/02517/FUL | Demolition of existing two-storey Train Drivers Accommodation building and erection of four buildings, with part basement area, ranging in height between 5 and 14 storeys with recessed rooftop plant and lift overruns located behind a parapet and screens, and comprising 351 new residential dwelling units (Class C3) with flexible retail ground floor unit (Class E and/or drinking establishment (Sui Generis) uses), replacement Train Drivers Accommodation (Sui Generis), cycle parking, public realm and open space, car parking, hard and soft landscaping, access and servicing, plant and associated works. | Land Adjacent To Cockfosters Underground Station Cockfosters Road Barnet EN4 0DZ
We write to submit our objections to the above application, which we believe would be a massive and unacceptable overdevelopment the site to the detriment of the local area and in breach of many of Enfield’s planning policies. We set out the reasons for our objections below.
1. The application is out of scale and character with the surrounding area.
The proposed density, scale, and form would be inconsistent with and detrimental to the existing built environment. There is no precedent in the site’s geographical context for the extent of development proposed. The locale is distinctly low-rise and suburban – high-density, high-rise development of the kind proposed in the application would not be sensitive or complementary to the public realm in Cockfosters.
The application therefore breaches policies DMD 6, DMD 8, and DMD 37 of the Enfield Local Plan.
- DMD 6: ‘Proposed development must be of a density appropriate to the locality. Development will be permitted if it complies with the London Plan density matrix and the following criteria are met: a. The scale and form of development is appropriate to the existing pattern of development or setting, having regard to the character typologies. b. The development delivers a housing output having regard to policies on housing mix.’
- DMD 8: ‘New residential development will only be permitted if all of the following relevant criteria are met. All development must: a. Be appropriately located, taking into account the nature of the surrounding area and land uses, access to local amenities, and any proposed mitigation measures; b. Be of an appropriate scale, bulk and massing.’
- DMD 37: ‘1) Development that is not suitable for its intended function, that is inappropriate to its context, or which fails to have appropriate regard to its surroundings, will be refused. 2) Development should capitalise on the opportunities available for improving an area in accordance with the following objectives of urban design: Character: Locally distinctive or historic patterns of development, landscape and culture that make a positive contribution to quality of life and a place's identity should be reinforced; Continuity and Enclosure: Public and private spaces and buildings are clearly distinguished, safe and secure; Quality of the Public Realm: Safe, attractive, uncluttered and effective spaces and routes should be provided;
2. The location is not suitable for tall buildings.
The four tower blocks would be massive – each much taller, even, than the existing Blackhorse Tower. The proposed development comprises buildings that are far too high in a neighbourhood made up of predominantly one- and two-storey homes. Tower blocks are completely unacceptable, in applicable planning policy, in close vicinity to green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings, historic parks, and otherwise sensitive areas – all of which criteria apply to this location.
The application therefore breaches policies DMD 43 and DMD 83 of the Enfield Local Plan.
- DMD 43:‘Tall Buildings 1. Tall buildings will not be acceptable in areas classified as inappropriate. Areas inappropriate for tall buildings include those: a. within and adjacent to the Green Belt; b. within the boundary or in the immediate vicinity of, or along views to, or from: Conservation areas; Nationally or locally listed buildings; Scheduled or locally listed ancient monuments; and Nationally or locally registered historic parks and gardens. 2. There will be a presumption against tall buildings in sensitive areas, with the onus being on the developer to demonstrate how the proposal avoids the negative impacts associated with the sensitive classification. Areas likely to be sensitive to tall buildings include: a. Locations where development would infringe upon or detract from important local views; b. Ridges or other areas of high ground where they would have a significant impact on the horizon; c. Locations where existing development is of good quality, and is relatively homogeneous in scale, grain and height, contributing to a strong sense of place […]’
- DMD 83: ‘Development Adjacent to the Green Belt Proposed development located next to, or within close proximity to, the Green Belt will only be permitted if all of the following criteria are met: a. There is no increase in the visual dominance and intrusiveness of the built form by way of height, scale and massing on the Green Belt; b. There is a clear distinction between the Green Belt and urban area; c. Views and vistas from the Green Belt into urban areas and vice versa, especially at important access points, are maintained. Proposals should maximise opportunities to incorporate measures to improve the character of land adjacent to the Green Belt through environmental improvements such as planting and earth moulding, and the removal or replacement of visually intrusive elements such as buildings, structures, hard standings, walls, fences or advertisements.’
3. The development does not address Enfield’s main housing needs.
Family homes are a strategic priority in this part of north London, and the proposed development fails to supply them. Three-bed family houses are needed, but three-bed ‘family’ units constitute less than a tenth of the proposals.
Amenity space for residents and the public would be inadequate, particularly for families.
The application therefore breaches Strategic Objective 4 and Core Policy 5 of the Enfield Local Plan.
- Strategic Objective 4 (p.27): ‘New homes - To facilitate the provision of sustainably constructed new homes of exemplary space and design standards to meet the aspirations of local people. […]’
- Core Policy 5 (p.47): ‘Housing types The Council will seek to ensure that new developments offer a range of housing sizes to meet housing need. Over the lifetime of the Core Strategy the Council will plan for the following borough-wide mix of housing: Market housing – 20% 1 and 2 bed flats (1-3 persons), 15% 2 bed houses (4 persons), 45% 3 bed houses, (5-6 persons), 20% 4+ bed houses (6+ persons). Social rented housing - 20% 1 bed and 2 bed units (1-3 persons), 20% 2 bed units (4 persons) 30% 3 bed units (5-6 persons), 30% 4+ bed units (6+ persons). […] The density of residential development proposals should balance the need to ensure the most efficient use of land whilst respecting the quality and character of existing neighbourhoods and accessibility to transport and other infrastructure.’
4. The site lies in Trent Park Conservation Area and is close to important heritage assets.
The Trent Part Conversation Area and significant local heritage assets, including the Charles Holden-designed 1930s station buildings, would be irreparably harmed by the development.
The proposed development sits on the edge of the green belt and would dominate views from Trent Park and beyond. Trent Park is one of the last remaining elements of the old Royal hunting ground of Enfield Chase and the new tower blocks would loom over it. They would also have a visually intrusive impact on the view of the Cockfosters ridgeline, visible for miles around.
The application therefore breaches Strategic Objectives 1 and 2, Core Policy 33, and the Spatial Vision for Enfield in the Local Plan.
- Strategic Objective 1 (p.26): ‘[…] To protect and enhance those parts of the Borough which currently offer a good quality of life to Enfield's communities.’
- Strategic Objective 2 (p.26): ‘To promote a sustainable pattern of development […] protecting the Borough's green belt and biodiversity.’
- Core Policy 33: ‘Green Belt and countryside: The Council will continue to protect and enhance Enfield’s green belt.’
- Spatial Vision for Enfield (p.25): ‘The Borough's high quality natural and built heritage, including its archaeology and the green belt in the west, will continue to be protected and enhanced.’
5. The development would almost completely remove park-and-ride facilities and reduce access to public transport.
The existing car park provides an essential ‘Park & Ride’ facility. Losing it would harm many people, but the impact would be particularly keenly felt by people with impaired mobility. This contravenes equality rules including Enfield Council’s duties under the Equalities Act 2010. The retention of a few disabled spaces is not sufficient because the loss of the rest of the car park means disabled people will lose the option to use a regular space when disabled bays are full. Less mobile residents in Enfield and Barnet will never again be able to drive to the station with any confidence that they will be able to park there – risking effective loss of their access to the Underground network.
6. Local infrastructure, such as schools, GP surgeries and hospitals, is already under pressure and does not have sufficient capacity for the scale of the population increase proposed.
The application breaches policy DMD 6 of the Enfield Local Plan.
- DMD 6: e. ‘The density of development takes into account the existing and planned provision of local facilities such as shops, public and private open space, and community, leisure and play;’
7. Inadequate provision of resident parking.
It is unrealistic to expect tenants in the development not to have cars. The application fundamentally fails to understand suburban life in north London.
Failing to provide any off-street parking for new residents will lead to greatly increased parking in already crowded local streets and, in particular, the application fails to give due consideration to the impact in roads within Barnet.
The application therefore breaches policy DMD 8 of the Enfield Local Plan.
- DMD 8: h. ‘Provide adequate access, parking and refuse storage which do not, by reason of design or form, adversely affect the quality of the street scene; […]’
This application demonstrably breaches many of Enfield’s long-established planning policies, and therefore it should be rejected.
We would be grateful if the Planning Committee would take our constituents’ views into account before reaching a decision. Please inform the Committee that we object to the application and believe it should be refused. Two of us - Theresa Villiers and Cllr Byers - would like to speak at the planning committee meeting where this application will be determined.
Theresa Villiers MP
Cllr Felix Byers
Cllr Nicole Richer