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HomeNewsAnger over new developments approved in 'Hendon Hub' scheme

Anger over new developments approved in ‘Hendon Hub’ scheme

Local anger over the Hendon Hub development was made clear at a committee meeting last night (Tuesday 20th) as two new applications on the project site were approved.

Hendon Hub is a Barnet Council-led scheme that is set to see hundreds of student flats built in partnership with Middlesex University in the area around The Burroughs.

Strategic planning committee chair Nigel Young clarified at Tuesday’s meeting that the development had already been approved in January 2022, which gave a “resolution to grant permission” for schemes on sites in the area.

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The two specific applications discussed and approved last night, despite heavy public objection, were at Hendon Library and Ravenfield House, both in The Burroughs.

Plans for Ravenfield House, located across the road from Hendon Library, comprised the demolition of the house and two neighbouring sites, plus the erection of three new buildings up to seven-storeys in height, with a five-storey circular rotunda to the south.

The Hendon Library application proposed maintaining the front of the library but developing the rear of the building site which has undergone alterations.

Plans included the demolition of ‘Building 9’, a single-storey structure behind the library, used by the university, and replacing it with a “rear library extension”. Secondly, a four-storey teaching block would be built for use by the university.

The first floor of the library would also be brought back into public use as it is currently only open to Middlesex University.

Alex Prager, the ward councillor for Hendon, objected to the application. He said the “public benefits” to the ward were “limited” and was concerned with the “sheer overdevelopment”  the project was “forcing on Hendon”.

A previous scheme from 2021 proposed the library become a university space in full and Hendon Library instead be moved across the road.

Committee member Richard Cornerlius asked if Cllr Prager feared plans would revert back to the proposal to move the library if this current application was “voted against”.

Cllr Prager said he was in favour of  the “original promise of a standalone library” exclusively for the public. He described changes already undertaken to the building as a “downgrade” and did not think this new plan reflected community wishes well enough. His issue is it further made the library “mixed-use”.

A second objector, local resident David Pixner, said the current lack of development gave residents a feeling of “not being hemmed in”. He added there had been a lack of “consultation” around the general “sequestration of the library”.

Anger over new developments approved in 'Hendon Hub' scheme Harrow Online
Southern facade of the library plans – WSP developer

Committee member Danny Rich said this application involved returning “the first floor” and retaining the current library space at ground level. David said he agreed with this proposal and that previous proposals hadn’t communicated plans in this way.

Local resident Brad Blitz critiqued the “conduct of the meeting” saying there was a lack of “clarity” around what plans entailed, leaving residents at a disadvantage.

He supported keeping the library in its location, but wanted it exclusively for public use and voiced strong objection to the application across the road Ravensfield House.

Committee member Eva Greenspan asked to add a condition that the library would not be “overrun” with university students. Committee member Shuey Gordon seconded this.

The planning officer Andrew Dillon said a condition prioritising the library for public use could be added but the legal officer said this condition would be difficult to enforce as students made up the public and would also live in the local area. Cllr Rich agreed, saying it would be down the library to manage Middlesex student overcrowding if the public found there were issues.

However, the committee did vote six-to-two in favour of adding an informative that prioritised the library for public use. The application was then approved unanimously.

Elisa Medina, a local resident, gave objections to the Ravenfield House plans. She said they would “destroy” the local community and turn it into “one giant student housing project”.

She said the “physical scale” of the development was “overwhelming” and that the “seven-storey structure [is] out of character for the vicinity”, adding the university did not have buildings of “this size”.

She believed downgrading the scale was “doable” and didn’t understand why it wasn’t possible.

Another objector, Ameet Jogia, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hendon and a user of one of the local places of worship, said “a seven-storey tower block” was not good for the community. He said: “We’re not against development but we need to make sure it’s in keeping with our needs and the local area.”

Chris Tenant, the agent speaking on behalf of the developer for both plans, WSP, said if the Ravenfield House scheme wasn’t approved the chance of the library being moved to the rotunda, the previous proposal from 2021, stood to be carried forward.

Councillors showed concern with the approval of one application having an effect on another application, having believed they were judging separate proposals. Cllr Greenspan asked to defer decision until this had been reviewed with the developer.

Cllr Young said the previous 2022 “resolution to grant permission” given to the scheme as a whole had created this issue.

In a tense vote, the committee was tied with four in favour and four against, but with Cllr Young using his casting vote to waive the plan through as chair.

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