Opponents are left reeling as Brent scheme gets final nod

CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the final decision by Barnet Council to rubber stamp the controversial �4.5billion Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme.

The Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood, which vehemently opposes the scheme, is furious that the council has given the go-ahead despite huge opposition from residents, politicians and environmental groups.

Phase one of the scheme will see a gasification waste plant built on a site near Brent Cross shopping centre. It is currently home to Bestway Cash and Carry and the North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA) Hendon waste transfer station.

Opponents hope that the government decision last week to cut �250million from the NLWA, which was going to build a new plant to tackle rubbish and recycling from seven London boroughs, could jeopardise the development.

Coalition member Alison Hopkins, a neighbour of the scheme, said: “We are opposing the application but especially the waste plant and, now that the government has cancelled the funding for the NLWA, the scheme could be in jeopardy.

“One of the key parts of the scheme is moving the existing waste handling facility, run by NLWA, across the railway line. But if they have lost the funding that may mean the scheme has to change.

“We do not know. It is all very uncertain. We are trying to find out what is going on but it has given us hope.”

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John Cox, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This is a terrible scheme and it is very disappointing that Barnet Council has approved it.

“The consultation over the last eight years has been meaningless and they have never been willing to change anything.

“We are hoping that, if the NLWA has to keep its current site because of the loss of government funding, the scheme will not go ahead. The waste facility is the Achilles heel of the scheme.”

Coalition co-ordinator Lia Colacicco added: “The coalition deplores the decision by a single unelected official at Barnet Council to approve the fundamentally flawed planning application.

“In terms of attracting private capital, this is an example of a ‘race to the bottom’ by the council – to get any sort of investment, come what may, and without serious consideration of the quality of the proposals.”

The scheme has been given the final green light following the completion of a section 106 agreement. This is the investment the developer must make into the community and infrastructure.

A total of 7,500 homes are due to be built, 20,000 jobs created, three rebuilt schools, a new town centre, �400million investment into transport and a new bus and rail station.

It will be delivered in seven phases over more than 20 years. Construction is expected to start in 2014.

Jonathan Joseph, of the Brent Cross Cricklewood Development Partners, said: “A vital part of our work moving forward will be engagement with local people and the wider community to ensure that everyone is fully involved with and informed of our plans.”

A NLWA spokeswoman said the organisation was not connected to the proposed Brent Cross Cricklewood gasification waste plant.

She added: “The planned Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration scheme incorporates land, which currently includes our Hendon Rail transfer station.

“This facility could be relocated to a different site, to accommodate the new regeneration scheme. We will continue to work with the developers and Barnet Council as the regeneration plans progress.”