Residents furious with Barnet Council over Brent Cross plans

PUBLISHED: 15:37 02 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 07 September 2010

RESIDENTS have slammed Barnet Council for approving minor changes to the £4.5billion Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme only 10 days after publishing the revised documents. A meeting at Hendon Town hall saw councillors approve a revised draft of the Section

RESIDENTS have slammed Barnet Council for approving "minor changes" to the £4.5billion Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme only 10 days after publishing the revised documents.

A meeting at Hendon Town hall saw councillors approve a revised draft of the Section 106 agreement as well as minor changes to the planning conditions.

They also delegated powers to an officer to grant the final planning permission once the Section 106 agreement is finalised - although Town Hall bosses have said this is standard practice.

Campaigners are furious at Barnet for rushing through the plans and delegating the final say-so over one of the country's largest planning applications to an officer.

They gathered outside the Town Hall before the meeting to protest against the rushed timetable which they believe should have been deferred until October to give people more time to scrutinise the documents.

David Howard, chairman of the Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet and spokesman for the Coalition against Brent Cross Cricklewood, said: "This was a total rubber stamp - they did not want to discuss anything and it was an appalling example of a total lack of democracy.

"The key documents to this scheme are the Section 106 agreements but most of these were altered and we were given only a week to scrutinise them.

"There were no tracked changes between the new and old so we had to go through hundreds of pages and seven days was just not long enough.

"We did not have enough time to read it and neither did the committee members. Officers had led us to believe the meeting would be in October then they rush it through with only a few days notice.

"It stinks and there is nothing we can do now. There is no bigger responsibility for councillors than deciding a £4.5billion scheme yet they have delegated it to officers."

The coalition is made up of residents groups, environmental organisations, cross-party politicians, transport campaigners and cycling advocates.

The Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme is due to create a new town centre, 27,000 jobs, 7,500 new homes, GP surgeries and dentists, three schools, a new mainline rail station, hotel and conference centre, waste handling facilities, parks and green spaces, community centres and a leisure centre.

A spokeswoman for Barnet Council said the changes did not materially alter the scheme and the meeting was necessary to extend the time allowed to agree the Section 106 agreement.

She said: "Planning and environment committee consider the Heads of Terms of any proposed S106 agreements.

"Approval of the full detail of the S106 is delegated to the Assistant Director of Planning and Development Management as long as the detail is in accordance with the Heads of Terms.

"Officers consider that the detailed drafting of the S106 (July 2010) accords with the Heads of Terms considered by the November committee.

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