Tuesday, 23 June 2009

whereilive - Colindale

I keep meaning to post some pictures onto Barnet council's whereilive.org website showing where I live. Barnet has a reputation as a spacious, prosperous, leafy borough ("a successful city-suburb of a world class city", no less). But Where I Live (as opposed to where people like Mike Freer and Brian Coleman live) is not spacious, prosperous or leafy.

One can make the best of it, and I do, but that's not the same as saying that it's a nice place. Today, for example, I walked up Montrose Avenue and down the Edgware Road to Asda. I made the most of the fact that it was a sunny day and that therefore everything - the endless asphalt, brick and concrete vistas - looked quite bright and cheerful. I made the most of the fact that it was early afternoon, early in the week and that therefore the roads were not all that congested. I made the most of the fact that Asda is a cheap, cheerful place where one can buy a decent lunch for £4 and that, being early afternoon, early in the week, it was not all that congested. I made the most of my walk back through Montrose Park, not the loveliest of parks - in fact, if Montrose Park were in the market for marriage one would say that it was 'plain' - not ugly, but certainly not beautiful. But, because it was a sunny day, in the early afternoon, early in the week Montrose Park rose to heights of... loveliness? Greenness, at any rate, warm, bright greenness. What more can one ask of one of Barnet's second division parks?

Why I'm burbling on about this is that the Colindale Area Action Plan has been published. I am going to look for the good in this AAP but I basically feel that we in the unlovely and unloved west of the borough are having one put over on us. What it actually boils down to is the population is going to go up and they think they have found somewhere to put the newcomers: in the place which is already a concrete jungle. This suspicion is fuelled by reading the first few paragraphs of the report beneath a coy-looking picture of Councillor Melvin Cohen, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environmental Protection:
Our Three Strands Approach to planning, development and regeneration: Protect, Enhance and Grow, establishes a boroughwide strategy to protect our most important open and green spaces, enhance our existing centres and quality residential suburban neighbourhoods, and plans for growth in appropriate brownfield locations and areas in need of regeneration and renewal. Colindale, located in the west of the Borough, has an important role in all of these priorities, especially Strand 3 [well, there's a surprise]: Growth, as Barnet’s largest housing-led regeneration area.
So, to summarise, the council will
protect - places like Totteridge
enhance - places like Finchley
grow - places like Colindale
They go on to describe what growth for Colindale will mean:
Our aim is to ensure that growth in Colindale is focused around an accessible and attractive new neighbourhood centre that serves the everyday needs of local people combined with an exciting transport gateway interchange at Colindale Underground station. It is essential that Colindale provides the full range of community and education services that are so important for communities to flourish. New areas of housing will be linked to existing neighbourhoods by an improved network of streets and quality green open spaces.
I can see it all now...

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