Protesters launch battle to save 'last remaining green space' in Cricklewood from developers
PUBLISHED: 12:32 03 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 September 2015
Residents in Cricklewood are fighting council plans to sell-off the last remaining green space in the area to a micro-property developer next week.
Barnet Council will put forward proposals to sell green space in front of B&Q in Cricklewood Lane, amidst claims from campaigners that they have not been properly consulted.
The proposal to sell the land to property developer Pocket will be decided at a meeting on September 7.
Campaigners Brent Cross Coalition group have launched a 361-signature petition in a bid to block planning permission for 42 affordable micro-flats and ground-floor shops on a plot of land currently used as a green for picnics, community gatherings and the annual Silk Road Festival.
Fiona Colgan, who has been leading calls to preserve the green space said: “This is a disgraceful sell-off of Cricklewood green by Barnet Council. We are all very shocked.
“This is the only green space and ‘public realm’ in Cricklewood.”
In a report submitted to its assets, regeneration and growth committee, Barnet Council claims regular fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and drug-abuse has made the land costly to maintain and rendered it “surplus to the council’s requirements”.
The report also reveals the council is in advanced discussions with Pocket to build a multi-storey development of one-bedroom ‘pocket’ properties, which would provide small-scale affordable accommodation with priority going to residents in Barnet and Brent.
The land was initially purchased as ‘public realm’ from the Crown Estate for £500 in 2004 on the condition that no building work would take place but the council has since won permission to sell it for development.
Cllr Lia Colacicco, Labour councillor for Mapesbury ward, said: “Residents and protesters were given verbal assurances by both Barnet Council and the developers that due to public feeling this site would be left alone.”
Martin Francis, a spokesman for Brent’s Green Party added: “The space outside B&Q has been well-used for community events in the past and a little care and effort could develop it as a valuable community asset in the future.”
In addition to the sale value of the land, the council stands to make £417,028 from the deal as part of the Government’s New Homes Bonus, which awards grants to councils for increasing the number of affordable homes.
A spokesman for Barnet Council said: “Members of the public have the opportunity to speak at the committee and submit written questions. If the committee agrees the principle of selling the land, the council goes through a statutory process that gives members of the public the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns before a final decision is made.
“There will be full consultation on these proposals before they are considered by the planning committee”.
To view the online petition go to: http://chn.ge/1IDqOsk