Brent politicians claim ‘Tory block vote’ gave Welsh Harp development the green light

How the West Hendon housing estate on the reservoir could look

How the West Hendon housing estate on the reservoir could look - Credit: Archant

Opponents of controversial plans vow to fight Barnet Council all the way

Save our Welsh Harp campaigners outside the Barnet council meeting

Save our Welsh Harp campaigners outside the Barnet council meeting - Credit: Archant

Brent politicians have slammed the decision to push through development plans near the Welsh Harp reservoir as a “Tory block vote” and have pledged to take the fight to the Mayor of London this week.

Barnet councillors voted five to four in favour of the controversial plan to build more than 2,000 Barratt homes near the nature reserve, despite fierce opposition from campaigners and politicians in Brent.

Campaigners, who protested outside the meeting of Barnet’s planning committee from 5pm last night now have 15 days to put their case to the Mayor of London, who makes the final decision.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, Brent Council’s lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said: “We’re incredibly disappointed, it was a very close vote - nail bitingly close.

“I think it’s quite clear that it was along party political lines, the Tories voted in block in favour of this which was very disappointing given that concerns have been from across the board, from every party.

She added: “We’re going to be taking the fight to Boris and we hope he realises that this isn’t a party political issue that can be steamrollered through.”

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Cllr Mashair and Cllr Javaid Ashfraf, alongside Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, all spoke at the meeting to oppose the plans, which they said would endanger wildlife on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and cause transport and infrastructure problems.

Barnet Council received 350 written objections from residents as well as a letter signed unanimously by Brent council’s executive last month and an 850-strong petition in May.

“The developers don’t get the local, but also the national significance of this SSSI – it’s a nesting place for birds that don’t nest anywhere else across London we have lots of species or rare butterflies and plants,” said Cllr Mashari.

“Not only are they underestimating the local value, but the London wide and national significance of this place,” she added.

Campaigners have a long list of issues which they say have not been addressed, including a lack of new medical facilities to deal with the influx of new residents, the increase in traffic and the impact of the tall buildings, some of which could reach 29 storeys.

Cllr Mashari said: “it’s going to be a huge looking presence, 29 stories is more fitting to Canary wharf or Manhattan than a SSSI area.”

Barnet responded by saying “high architectural design” would be ensured in all buildings and said: “The proposed development is considered to have adequately addressed implications on the SSSI and nature conservation and is not considered to have major effects.

But Camden London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore slammed the officer’s report as biased.

Councillor Daniel Thomas,Barnet Council Deputy Leader, said: “It has taken a number of years to get to this point and I am extremely pleased that the much needed transformation of this estate has moved a step closer to becoming a reality.”