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'It will be a living hell' - anger as Brent Cross Regeneration Project approved by Barnet Borough Council's planning committee
“Heartbroken” neighbours lost their fight to block the Brent Cross Regeneration Project this evening as councillors voted to pass the proposals.
Plans for the £4billion scheme, across Brent Cross and Cricklewood, were backed by Barnet Borough Council’s planning committee by a six to four majority, despite strong concerns from residents.
The proposals to rebuild Brent Cross Shopping Centre were given planning permission three years ago - but amendments to the existing application by developers Hammerson and Standard Life sparked a second meeting.
Speaking after tonight's decision, opponents vowed to rally together and decide whether judicial review would be a viable option.
Campaigner Lia Colacicco said: “We are absolutely heartbroken.”
During the meeting, many raised concerns about the size of the scheme, which they feel will have poor transport links.
Others voiced their anger about the well-loved Cricklewood Green Space, opposite B&Q, which is due to be demolished to make way for a new development.
Under the plans, the Living Bridge - a huge new cycle and pedestrian bridge over the A406 - will connect the north and south parts of Barnet with the west.
Supporters of the new route said it would vastly improve the flow of traffic, making it easily accessible for people in other parts of the borough.
But Lesley Turner, member of the Cricklewood Residents Association, told the committee: “This Living Bridge will be more like a living hell.”
Brent councillor Alison Hopkins called them “car-centric” plans for an “out of town” shopping centre.
But the Brent Cross Bus Station will be doubled in size to ensure adequate transport links, and plans to regenerate it have been brought forward to the first stage of developments.
More than 75,000 new homes will also be built under the plans, and 15 per cent of these will be affordable housing.
But the Whitefields Estate and the Rosa Friedman Care Home, in Cricklewood, will both be bulldozed and residents relocated.
Pauline McKinnell, of the Cricklewood Community Forum, said: “It will be a major disruption to their lives.
“It is a very stressful situation to be in, having to start again and make a new home for themselves.”
Speaking about the loss of Cricklewood Green Space, she added: “It will take away the only green space in Cricklewood Town Centre, which is a lung to the pollution and traffic.”
Developers said the current shopping centre is outdated and plan to revive it with an outdoor retail area, which will create 5,000 new retail positions and 1,800 construction jobs.
Speaking in support of the proposals, Jonathan Josephs of the Brent Cross Development Partnership, said: “People are proud of Brent Cross. It was once the jewel in Barnet’s crown and the finest centre in Britain.
“There are real and tangible benefits that will come forward quickly if you approve this. People need and will welcome the new jobs.”
Mr Josephs called the Cricklewood Green Space a “sloping void” - and after the meeting residents said they were “gobsmacked” by his comment.
Also speaking in favour of the plans was Barnet Council Leader Richard Cornelius, who called them “marvellous”.
Retail chain John Lewis has also written in support of a new and improved Brent Cross, with other firms also voicing an interest.
Rejecting the proposals, Councillor Jack Cohen said: “I get the impression the developers are playing fast and loose with the Cricklewood Open Space.
“Nobody knows [what it will become] - and if they do they aren’t prepared to say.
“Developers are so vague, and risks are so high.”
But Conservative Councillor John Marshall spoke in favour of the proposals, saying: “There are jobs to be created, homes to be provided, and green spaces to be improved and increased.”
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