Colindale estate redevelopment approved by councillors
A major estate regeneration scheme has been given the go-ahead despite disagreement over whether the developer’s plan could have been improved.
Councillors approved Home Group and Hill Residential’s plan to redevelop Douglas Bader Park Estate in Colindale during a meeting of the strategic planning committee on Thursday, 9th September.
The scheme involves knocking down 271 existing homes on the 1970s estate and building up to 753 new ones in blocks of up to nine storeys. More than three-quarters of residents who took part in a 2019 ballot backed regenerating the estate.
In June, the committee deferred the scheme after criticising the look of the homes and the level of affordable housing, prompting the developer to make several changes designed to enhance the appearance of the development.
Although regeneration was put forward as a means of addressing maintenance issues with the existing homes, councillors remained divided over whether the scheme was the best that could be offered.
Speaking during the meeting, Corina Best, who lives in Linklea Close on the estate, listed a range of problems affecting some of the homes, including damp, mould, vermin infestations, water leaks, “barely any hot water” and “ceilings falling down”.
Corina said: “If you turn this regeneration scheme down, how will you rehouse the people currently living in Douglas Bader Park Estate in unsafe and unsuitable conditions in accommodation that is fit for purpose?”
But Charlotte Daus, chair of New Colindale Residents’ Association, who lives next to the estate in Heybourne Crescent, complained over the scale of the development and its impact on neighbours and infrastructure.
She said: “We support the provision of like-for-like replacement of quality social homes, but the addition of up to 482 properties in towers of up to nine storeys is a massive concern. It feels like Home Group and Barnet are opportunistically using the desperation of residents to push through this large-scale, inappropriate development.”
Gill Sargeant, a Labour councillor for Colindale, argued the proposed scheme was the “wrong planning application” to answer the “terribly serious needs” of people living in poor conditions on the estate. She claimed Home Group had not maintained the properties “even when there were fairly simple things to do”.
Cllr Sargeant added: “There is a desperate need for three-bedroom and four-bedroom properties. Most of the affordable is going to be one and two-bedroom.”
But Tim Sturgess, director of planning consultancy Avison Young, who was speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: “In line with the mayor’s good practice guide, all alternatives have been explored for this estate. Redevelopment is the only way to address the existing physical build, space standards, quality and residents’ needs.”
Tim claimed redevelopment would “address overcrowded families and ensure everyone has the property size to meet their needs”. He added that the problems experienced by residents were a result of the “flawed” construction methods used in the 1960s and 70s.
Labour committee members were unconvinced by his argument. Claire Farrier repeated the objection they raised during a previous meeting; that the social rent homes would only be available for existing residents exercising their right to return, while the remaining affordable units would be set at higher-cost London Affordable Rent levels.
Four Labour councillors and a Liberal Democrat member voted against the plan. Five Conservatives voted in favour, and committee chair Eva Greenspan used her casting vote to approve the scheme.