Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Gove intervenes to block Cricklewood B&Q high-rise scheme

Plans previously approved for more than 1,000 new homes in Cricklewood are on hold after Michael Gove intervened

Hero for Gove intervenes to block Cricklewood B&Q high-rise scheme
The approved plans for development at Cricklewood B&Q and (inset) housing secretary Michael Gove

A planning decision on a huge development of more than 1,000 homes in Cricklewood has been delayed following government intervention.A planning decision on a huge development of more than 1,000 homes in Cricklewood has been delayed following government intervention.

Permission for the scheme proposed for the B&Q site in Broadway Retail Park, Cricklewood Lane, cannot now be issued without the housing secretary Michael Gove's approval, as ministers consider a request to 'call in' the application.Permission for the scheme proposed for the B&Q site in Broadway Retail Park, Cricklewood Lane, cannot now be issued without the housing secretary Michael Gove's approval, as ministers consider a request to 'call in' the application.

A tool known as an Article 31 direction was issued by Gove last month, preventing the council from making a final decision on the development without “specific authorisation”. If the call-in is agreed, government ministers will decide the application.A tool known as an Article 31 direction was issued by Gove last month, preventing the council from making a final decision on the development without “specific authorisation”. If the call-in is agreed, government ministers will decide the application.

The scheme, proposed by developer Montreaux, would see 1,049 homes built in blocks up to 18 storeys high. It was approved by Barnet Council’s strategic planning committee in September last year before being referred to London mayor Sadiq Khan.The scheme, proposed by developer Montreaux, would see 1,049 homes built in blocks up to 18 storeys high. It was approved by Barnet Council’s strategic planning committee in September last year before being referred to London mayor Sadiq Khan.

On 28th March, Khan wrote that he would allow the council to determine the application for the B&Q site and would not “direct refusal” or “take over the application for my own determination”.On 28th March, Khan wrote that he would allow the council to determine the application for the B&Q site and would not “direct refusal” or “take over the application for my own determination”.

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, who lobbied for the application to be called in, described Gove’s intervention as “a brilliant outcome for the many residents of my constituency who worked tirelessly to stop the development from going ahead”.Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, who lobbied for the application to be called in, described Gove’s intervention as “a brilliant outcome for the many residents of my constituency who worked tirelessly to stop the development from going ahead”.

He added: “The size of the proposed development was entirely out-of-keeping with the local area in design and scale. In addition, if the development was approved, it would have pushed our local services to breaking point.”He added: “The size of the proposed development was entirely out-of-keeping with the local area in design and scale. In addition, if the development was approved, it would have pushed our local services to breaking point.”

A row has now broken out between the local Labour and Conservative groups over a leaflet sent out by the Tories informing residents of Gove’s decision, which came amid campaigning for council elections that are due to take place on 5th May.A row has now broken out between the local Labour and Conservative groups over a leaflet sent out by the Tories informing residents of Gove’s decision, which came amid campaigning for council elections that are due to take place on 5th May.

The leaflet said the development had been “stopped” and claimed it was “promoted, sponsored or supported by the Labour Party” through Khan and Transport for London. It also claimed the mayor “strongly supported an even bigger scheme”.The leaflet said the development had been “stopped” and claimed it was “promoted, sponsored or supported by the Labour Party” through Khan and Transport for London. It also claimed the mayor “strongly supported an even bigger scheme”.

Anne Clarke, Labour councillor for Childs Hill, said the claim that the plan had been “blocked” was “completely disingenuous”, adding: “They [Barnet Conservatives] not only approved it at planning committee with no Tory councillors speaking against but highlighted the B&Q site for nearly the same number of flats in their Local Plan.”Anne Clarke, Labour councillor for Childs Hill, said the claim that the plan had been “blocked” was “completely disingenuous”, adding: “They [Barnet Conservatives] not only approved it at planning committee with no Tory councillors speaking against but highlighted the B&Q site for nearly the same number of flats in their Local Plan.”

Labour and Lib Dem councillors voted against the plan during the meeting last year. One Conservative councillor voted against, with the remaining six Tory members voting in favour.Labour and Lib Dem councillors voted against the plan during the meeting last year. One Conservative councillor voted against, with the remaining six Tory members voting in favour.

Cllr Clarke claimed Gove’s decision amounted to a “pause” on the scheme until after the election, adding: “If Gove was serious about stopping it, he would have done so”.Cllr Clarke claimed Gove’s decision amounted to a “pause” on the scheme until after the election, adding: “If Gove was serious about stopping it, he would have done so”.

Peter Zinkin, a Conservative councillor for Childs Hill, said he stood by the leaflet, adding that the planning report said the development of the site was “strongly supported” by the Greater London Authority.Peter Zinkin, a Conservative councillor for Childs Hill, said he stood by the leaflet, adding that the planning report said the development of the site was “strongly supported” by the Greater London Authority.

Cllr Zinkin said the mayor had previously approved a large scheme at Pentavia Retail Park in Mill Hill after a smaller-scale plan was refused by the council, and that the committee faced a “real dilemma” when deciding on applications that would be referred to the mayor. He said the Conservative group was “very anxious” about turning down schemes where the mayor had “expressed a strong view”.Cllr Zinkin said the mayor had previously approved a large scheme at Pentavia Retail Park in Mill Hill after a smaller-scale plan was refused by the council, and that the committee faced a “real dilemma” when deciding on applications that would be referred to the mayor. He said the Conservative group was “very anxious” about turning down schemes where the mayor had “expressed a strong view”.

The Mayor of London's office was contacted for comment.The Mayor of London's office was contacted for comment.

This article has been amended to clarify that one Conservative councillor did vote against the planning application at the committee meeting.This article has been amended to clarify that one Conservative councillor did vote against the planning application at the committee meeting.