Sunday, 24 July 2011

Barnet council selling off Church Farmhouse Museum

When Barnet council cut its grant to Church Farmhouse Museum and mumbled about allowing the community to take over the building, we suspected it was all baloney and that really they wanted to flog the building. Now we know it was all baloney. The next Cabinet Resources Committee (the one that decides what Barnet council is going to get up to next) has a report going to it
To seek approval that the property be declared surplus to the Council’s requirements and that it be advertised on the open market to enable submission of schemes and initial bids for the Council’s freehold interest. The appraisal and result of the open market testing will be reported to a future Cabinet Resources Committee meeting for consideration.
Yeah, they're going to flog off the building. Report available here (item 7). Under "corporate priorities" the report says:
The Corporate Plan 2010-2013 commits the Council to delivering ‘Better services with less money’. A key principle of the medium term financial strategy is to continually review the use of Council assets so as to reduce the cost of accommodation year on year and to obtain best consideration for any surplus assets to maximise funds for capital investment and/or the repayment of capital debt. The sale of the Church Farmhouse would provide a capital receipt which would support the Council’s priorities and bring this currently unused area of land back into use.
Under "background information" it says:
The Site was originally purchased by the Middlesex County Council for museum purposes, on the 21 February 1944, and became vested in the London Borough of Barnet in 1965 following the abolition of Middlesex County Council.
But we can't be bothered with museums anymore in Barnet.

Under "planning advice" it says:
The museum building is of historic significance and will involve full consultation with English Heritage.

A range of development opportunities exist including residential and/or community and education uses. These may serve as stand alone or enabling development to secure improvements to facilities if identified on or off-site.

Residential densities should reflect the character of the surrounding area and in relation to enhance and protect the historic fabric of the building.
This sale represents a disgraceful loss to the community of a shared asset. In future only a few wealthy individuals will benefit from it. I wish we'd occupied the museum when we had the chance...


Mrs Angry said...

this particular reference is just staggering: 'bring this currently unused area of land back into use.'. What is unused? The museum that they closed down, or the surrounding grounds? Are all of our listed buildings and green spaces now commodities up for grabs by developers? I'm guessing the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes. What a disgusting, money grubbing lot they are, with no respect for culture or history.

MickeyN said...

I posted this on Mr Reasonable's site: May I ask how the Cabinet Paper's statement (para 9.13): "Any new development should demonstrate compliance with Unitary Development Plan policies" reconciles with the Policy L1 of the UDP (as found on LBB's website) which states: "The council will refuse development proposals resulting in the loss of arts, culture and entertainment facilities to other uses" (earlier it defines museums as arts culture and entertainment facilities)??

Citizen Barnet said...

Very good, Mickey, thanks. I'll go and have a look at that...

Mr Mustard said...

This item took all of 2 minutes valuable time at the Cabinet Resources Committee on 28 July 2011.

Is that what is called due diligence?