A developer has been ordered to tear down a “monstrous” wooden shop front branded the ‘Swiss Chalet of High Barnet’.
The striking cedar wood fronting in Church Passage has been causing a stir since it replaced a white-painted pebble dash shopfront in the middle of the town’s conservation area last year.
Barnet Council ruled the varnished cladding above the Cherry Lodge Cancer Care charity shop breached planning rules, and ordered its removal following complaints from local groups including the Barnet Society and the Barnet Residents’ Association.
Last week that decision that was upheld by the planning inspector when the developer failed in his appeal, leaving him with three months to remove the timber.
The offending shop front is located between two older brick buildings, including the locally-listed former Chipping Barnet Library, and in front of the Grade-II listed St John the Baptist Church.
Barnet Society chairman Nick Jones hailed the inspector’s decision as a victory for the area’s heritage.
He said: “It is incongruous and insensitive. We’re in the heart of Barnet’s conservation area and this isn’t the place for it. The Barnet Society and the Barnet Residents’ Association have never been so united on an issue.
“There have been a lot of breaches of the conservation area and there was concern that this was a test case. There was a feeling that if we didn’t stand up to this one, developers would be able to drive a horse and cart through the regulations.”
The layout of the conservation area dates back to 1292 and is protected under regulations enforced by Barnet Council, though Mr Jones said it was often up to local groups to keep an eye on unsightly developments.
He added: “I do sympathise with the developer. He’s got a great location and the shame is he didn’t work with the planning department.
“From the point of view of the local groups this is an excellent decision – it was a monster and the local population had a bee in their bonnet about this.”