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Brent Cross decision delayed for more public views

PUBLISHED: 12:33 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:30 07 September 2010

Susanna Wilkey THE decision over the controversial £4.5billion Brent Cross Cricklewood has been delayed again by Barnet Council. Councillors deferred the decision for a second time at a planning meeting on Tuesday to allow more time to consider questions

Susanna Wilkey

THE decision over the controversial £4.5billion Brent Cross Cricklewood has been delayed again by Barnet Council.

Councillors deferred the decision for a second time at a planning meeting on Tuesday to allow more time to consider questions from the public.

They now plan to host a two-day debate next month - similar to the one Camden held when deciding on the King's Cross scheme - giving more people the chance to speak at the meeting.

Planning committee acting chairwoman Cllr Maureen Braun said: "We recognise that there is growing public interest in this complex application and that we need to allow more of the public to give their views to the planning committee.

"Such a special meeting is unprecedented in Barnet and shows the importance we attach to both the proposals and to proper public involvement and transparency in the debate about the scheme.

"We have had a great many submissions from the public covering a wide range of issues and I am keen that everyone has a chance to make their voice heard."

At a full Barnet Council meeting on November 3, councillors will be asked to consider whether the planning committee's normal rules can be suspended so the unique two-day meeting can be held.

Provided that is agreed, the meeting will be run over two evenings on the week commencing November 16.

Scheme opponents the Brent Cross Coalition has criticised the further delay and is still demanding a public inquiry as it believes Barnet Council should not make the decision alone.

Co-ordinator Lia Colacicco said: "The development will affect the shape of north London for generations.

"The scheme should therefore be judged by people knowledgeable and experienced in large-scale urban planning.

"Barnet cannot be allowed to be prosecutor, judge and jury even if it now proposes two evenings rather than two hours to come to a decision.

"A longer hearing with more speakers would be better. But doesn't change the fact that the planning department is out of its depth."

Coalition member Alison Hopkins added: "Barnet's actions show it is not equipped to handle such a large application.

"A full public inquiry is far more democratic than any local council planning process and allows all voices to be heard.

"This means that all the environmental, commercial and technical risks can be properly and independently judged."

The plans for a new town centre would create 27,000 jobs, 7,500 homes, three schools, new health facilities, parks and open spaces, and invest more than £400million in transport.

Jonathan Joseph, from the Brent Cross Cricklewood Development Partners, has welcomed the decision for the two-day hearing, saying it is right that people have the opportunity to express their views.

He said: "A huge amount of careful work has been done to create a truly exemplary scheme that sets pioneering standards of environmental sustainability and will achieve the lasting regeneration of the Brent Cross Cricklewood area.

"We look forward to explaining the huge and many benefits for local people in Barnet and north- west London.

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