Sunday, 14 October 2012


Disclaimer: I hesitated to write this blogpost as it might seem that I am having a dig at the Chinese community in Colindale. I'm not, not at all! In fact, the developments that are going on in this ward are likely to dilute the valuable influence and presence of this group of people considerably.

So, on to the blogpost...

When I pass the Beaufort Park development - which aesthetically I like, actually - a half-remembered image comes into my mind. 'Kowloon,' I murmur. 'Kowloon.' Why?

I have just googled 'Kowloon' and, lo and behold, found this striking picture.

Kowloon, an area of Hong Kong: remind you of anything?
I suspect that many Barnet residents don't know what goes on in parts of the borough other than their own. You might not know, therefore, that Colindale ward is subject to a Barnet Council area action plan which aims to double the population in 10 years. Massive developments are springing up all the time.

Beaufort Park is about half-done now, I would say. Other developments include the so-far small - because stalled for lack of funds - New Hendon Village (ho, ho), parts of Grahame Park, Pulse and Rhythm (I kid you not) close to Colindale tube station. (A good source of information on the various schemes is the Colindale Renewal blog, the work of Barnet's most prolific, most unsung, and most mysterious blogger.)

The British Library newspaper reading rooms are going to be developed into flats; a large part of the Metropolitan Police training college, the Peel Centre, is going to be developed. (We will lose the potential use of an athletics track, going by the current plans.)

There's an ugly tower called Zenith House going up next to the Edgware Road.

Barnet is already struggling to find school places for all of the children that need them. There are many other concerns about the adequacy of the infrastructure, social facilities, etc, in this area to cope with the expected rapid influx of humanity.

On a personal level I don't mind where people live. I do worry, however, that they won't have what they need to live well. More than that, I believe that with some 'rebalancing' - better planning and a different allocation of resources - people would not have to move to Colindale from the probably much nicer places they live in at present.

There is another aspect to this, a class one (I'm Citizen Barnet, what did you expect?). Barnet Council have divided the borough up into 3 areas: those areas, such as Totteridge, that are already so nice that they have only to be preserved; those, such as Finchley, that are not bad but which if they were enhanced could be nice; and places such as Colindale which are not sufficiently nice for anything except to soak up all the newcomers expected into the borough. The fate of places such as Colindale is simply to 'grow'.

Our new Barnet and Camden representative on the London Assembly, Andrew Dismore, has been working hard lately. One of the focuses of his attention has been this 'growth'. He has put out a statement on it. The gist:
It is not fair on the existing residents who will see little benefit, and will suffer more traffic jams, overcrowded public transport, high buildings, long queues for public services and overstretched utilities.

Adding all the new homes planned for Colindale together, this puts the total to over 10,000 in a short stretch of only half a mile or so of road frontage. The Council must reconsider its Colindale Area Plan and the Mayor must see sense.
If this is all going to happen (it is) it would be good if all of the residents of the borough could support the residents of Barnet's 'growing' areas in their campaign for the resources that will be needed to support the influx.

On a purely personal and selfish level, I'm also worried that I won't get a seat on the tube anymore!


Moaneybat said...

Better 12 years late following inner idiological rediscovery since Tony left and Ed is left with nothing left.

Ask him the question Does he Defend Council Housing or a Left Big Society?

Moaneybat said...

Don't forget that a building site is also planned for a leafy corner of Mill Hill East. That should upset the Woodsie Park and Totteridge border

Moaneybat said...

Should Kowloondale and other areas consider uprising, here is some encouragement

...and yes, I should've done it in 1 shout instead of 3.

Alan Stanton said...

We have a similar situation developing in North East Tottenham where the Council has an agreement 'in principal' to facilitate development - i.e some demolition and attempted gentrification - in Northumberland Park ward. Especially on the Love Lane Council Estate to the west of the Spurs Stadium.
  It appears to me that residents there are being softened-up with promises of "improvement", new jobs and a better retail "offer".
  These 'strengths' and 'opportunities' may turn out to be accurate. But nobody is pointing out the 'weaknesses' and 'threats'. Residents - in one of the poorest wards in London - have no independent expert advice.
  The Council's own "Plan for Tottenham" is no more than a property developers' glossy brochure.
  A "masterplan" is under preparation by Arup and others. My guess is that this will attempt to pre-empt any future challenges through the planning process. When local people realise the implications it'll be too late to object. (Remember the Vogon Constructor Fleet?)  
  Am I being too pessimistic? Will the outcome be regeneration? I'm inclined to think it's more likely to be a land grab and an attempted social clearance by big commercial interests.
  The best account of this process I've read is David Harvey's "Rebel Cities". I'd appreciate other suggestions for reading. Or people to speak to.

Moaneybat said...


You do have something to worry about. One of those overseers of "Building Site Barnet" policy was, Nick Walkley,whom along with his former boss was I think, employed by the last Labour Administration. Nick is the new Chief Vexecutive of Haringey

You had better prepare for more than 'social engineering' and gentrification. Privatisation? If Labour Brent council has gone down that route why not Labour Haringey? Also, Masterplans are always subject to change.

In the less affluent and now regenerated parts of Barnet, concrete blocks of shoeboxes have gone up just like the 1960s, albeit with more colourful brickwork and Housing Association Landlords. The employment in the area apart from Brent Cross is largely retail, supermarket and "express" type.

I have to agree with you when you say:
"Perhaps planners, regeneration "experts" and consultants simply disapprove of people renting their homes - especially if they are council and other social housing tenants? Or maybe they're aiming for a "better balance" by banishing anyone who is working class, unemployed or disabled? And what about pensioners? Can they stay or move into the regenerated zone? Provided they're rich enough, of course.

baarnett said...

Beaufort Park has a video...