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