Councillor column: ten key points about Broadwalk redevelopment

Edgware councillor Nick Mearing-Smith on residents’ concerns about the controversial development plans in his ward

Nick Mearing-Smith, a councillor for Edgware ward in the London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Nick Mearing-Smith – Conservative, Edgware

As local councillors, much of our work consists of dealing with issues that affect just a few people at a time.

Occasionally, a major issue arises that impacts many residents. In Edgware, the proposed redevelopment of the Broadwalk shopping centre and TfL bus garage is just such an issue.

The scale of concern about the proposed development can be gauged by the websites that deal with it, the petitions that have been raised, the two demonstrations that attracted hundreds of people, and the two public meetings where people have expressed their concerns directly to Barnet councillors. Many people have expressed their anger. These are some of the issues that they have raised:

  1. Why is Edgware considered the only major town centre in the borough of Barnet?
  2. Edgware is a town on the outer edge of London suburbs on the edge of the Green Belt, not a city centre location, why is it treated as though it were?
  3. Brownfield sites were originally considered to be former industrial areas or sites left derelict after the war, like Canary Wharf, North Greenwich, Bermondsey, Nine Elms all were in the 1980s. Why is the centre of Edgware with a thriving shopping mall treated as being the same?
  4. The size and mass of the plans – more than 20 high-rise buildings, with the largest being 29 storeys – are completely out of keeping with the local area.
  5. The density of the proposed development compared with other developments in the UK is a major issue. By some calculations, it would be the densest development in the UK.
  6. The reduction in the number of car parking spaces, combined with an increase in the population, will make parking extremely difficult throughout Edgware.
  7. Edgware is in an outer borough, where most people use their cars not only to get around London, but also to go to Hertfordshire and further afield, which makes the idea of a largely car-free residential development impractical.
  8. Around the world, there have been several vehicle fires associated with large electric batteries that have got out of control. How can TfL and the London Fire Brigade ensure that will not happen with a bus garage housing 300 electric buses underneath large tower blocks?
  9. The question of the problems associated with leaseholds and rising service charges in tower blocks.
  10. Where is the infrastructure coming from to support the additional population – GP surgeries, hospitals, dentists, schools, road and sewerage capacity, etc?

There are many other issues that have been raised, but the message is clear: we local councillors must reflect the strength of feeling opposing this development in its current form and get it dramatically reduced and transformed for the benefit of existing and future residents of the borough.

My colleagues and I believe that Edgware deserves a much better development than this. We have raised a petition and had online and public meetings and will continue to fight for a better Edgware.

Nick Mearing-Smith is one of 3 councillors representing Edgware ward, along with Shuey Gordon and Lucy Wakeley (also Conservative).

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