5,000 Edgware housing target “was put there by the Conservatives” says Barnet Labour

Labour’s cabinet member from Ross Houston was responding to criticism from campaign group Save Our Edgware reports David Floyd

The Broadwalk Centre in Edgware and (inset) plans for its redevelopment
The Broadwalk Centre in Edgware and (inset) plans for its redevelopment

A Barnet Council cabinet member has defended Barnet Labour’s approach to development in Edgware after a local campaign group accused the party of failing to uphold its manifesto commitments on ‘overdevelopment’. 

The Save Our Edgware group is strongly opposed to the planned Ballymore/TfL development of The Broadwalk Centre, which will see the 3828 new dwellings – 3,365 homes and 463 student flats – being built in place of the current shopping centre, including tower blocks up to 29 storeys high. 

In a recent statement the group took aim at the 5,000 target for new homes in Edgware town centre included in the council’s Local Plan, pointing out that Labour had opposed the target when the plan was discussed under the previous Conservative administration. 

Save Our Edgware accuses Labour cabinet member for homes and regeneration Ross Houston of blaming the target on the Supplementary Planning Document for the area produced jointly with Harrow Council and the previous Conservative’s administration draft of the Local Plan. 

The group’s statement says: “Save Our Edgware urgently calls upon the Labour Party to uphold its 2022 Election manifesto commitment, opposing overdevelopment and advocating for stricter policies on height and density. The manifesto emphasises a focus on low and medium-rise design-led housing and community engagement in planning and development decisions.”

It continues: “In 2021, the Labour Group communicated their strong objections to the Planning Inspectors reviewing the draft Local Plan, opposing excessive density and height in new developments in Edgware and other parts of Barnet. The Labour Group explicitly voiced their disapproval of the draft Local Plan, citing concerns about super tall buildings of up to 25 storeys and tall buildings of up to 14 storeys in town centre locations as unacceptable.”

In response to the group’s claims, Cllr Houston told Barnet Post that the Conservatives were to blame for the target but that Labour had negotiated with the developer to reduce the number of homes being built. He said: “The 5,000 homes figure for Edgware in the Local Plan was put there by the previous Conservative administration who also failed to limit the height of any tall buildings in the development.

“Nevertheless, we have managed to negotiate a better deal with the developer – reducing the total homes proposed to 3,365 as well as a reduction in height.

“There was extremely limited scope for us, as the incoming Labour administration, to change things in the draft Local Plan which was already at public examination stage when we took control of the Council.

“Rejecting the draft Local Plan at that late stage would have put us back to square one, leaving Barnet without any chance of the protections on height, green spaces, and affordable housing that we have submitted through the process.

“Once the Local Plan is adopted the Council will look at bringing in a supplementary planning framework which will specifically address height and density.”

Edgware “not comparable” to Canary Wharf

Cllr Houston also rejected Save Our Edgware additional claim that the 5,000 target was based on the notion that Edgware is similar to Docklands business district Canary Wharf. 

The group said:  “Save Our Edgware has uncovered how the 5000-unit requirement for Edgware was calculated. Shockingly, this target is rooted in the assertion that the present Edgware is similar to Canary Wharf, a claim considered absurd by the community.”

However, Cllr Houston told Barnet Post the group was mistaken. He said: “Edgware has not been treated like Canary Wharf. Edgware is classified as a ‘Major Town Centre’ but while Canary Wharf is classified as a ‘Metropolitan Town Centre’ – the two are not comparable.”

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