Application to turn Victoria park lodge into flats to be heard tonight

Campaigners are angered that the council have recommended approval to turn the Victoria Park lodge i

Campaigners are angered that the council have recommended approval to turn the Victoria Park lodge into six flats - Credit: Archant

Barnet council’s decision to recommend approval to turn a historic lodge into a block of flats has been met with anger by local residents.

Despite over 450 objections being made, the lodge in Victoria Park, Finchley, is set to be demolished and replaced with six flats.

A planning committee meeting will take place tonight.

Campaigners are upset that the council are prepared to let the lodge, on Long Lane, be converted, because a covenant is supposed to protect the park.

The park holds historic value; it was opened by one of Queen Victoria’s daughters in 1902.

Last September, the council blocked a proposal from a developer to turn the lodge into eight flats on the grounds that it’s appearance would significantly detract from the character and of the area.

Mary O’Connor, who lives opposite the park, says this dates all the way back to when the council sold the building against the resident’s wishes, which was sanctioned in March 2016.

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Mrs O’Connor believes the reasons as to why the last proposal was rejected remain unchanged, but also says the “safety and privacy of the children in the playground will be compromised by the construction of these three-story flats”.

The recommendation for approval has been met with outrage from social media users with one person brandishing the news as a “disgrace” and others saying it was a “shame”.

Barry Rawlings, leader of Barnet Labour group says the council disregarded local residents when they sold the lodge.

“They should have tried to find a common solution rather than take the money and run,” he said.

“It could have been a cafe or a restaurant, something that would help preserve the park. But I’m worried that if this application is accepted, it will set a precedent. Not only does this all feel wrong but it is the principle that this is supposed to be a community space.”

Victoria Park is collectively owned by the residents with Barnet councillers as trustees.