Plans to relocate University College School's playing fields in Cricklewood, Barnet, blocked

Neighbours against the proposals

Neighbours against the proposals

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

  Neighbours spoke of their relief after a planning application they claim would “ruin the fabric of the area” was blocked this evening.

University College School had hoped to move the entrance of its sports ground, in Ranulf Road, Cricklewood, to the sharp bend where Hocroft Avenue and Farm Avenue meet.

The £5,720-a-year school in Hampstead also planned to knock down its old pavilion and replace it with a new building.

Householders in the area rallied togethre to stop the plans, which they said would cause hazardous traffic jams and accidents on the picturesque street.

But despite officers recommending the plans for approval, Barnet Borough Council’s planning committee rejected it by a 4:1 majority at Hendon Town Hall tonight.

Speaking against the proposals, Graham Barber, of Farm Avenue, told the committee: “Moving the main entrance to the apex of a sharp, blind bend makes no sense at all.

“While the exit sidelines are reasonable, the danger on crossing the carriageway at the apex of a blind bend to enter the new proposed entrance is obvious.

“If approved it’s an accident waiting to happen. I wouldn’t want death or a serious injury on my conscience.”

The £6million plans included a 25-space new car park, but householder Jonathan Caplan told the committee this would become a “magnet” for burglars.

He added cars regularly drive at “inconsiderate” speeds and there have been two accidents in Farm Avenue this year.

UCS headteacher Mark Beard said he had not heard about any accidents in the area this year.

He added that the school was build in 1923 for just 500 boys – but 90 years on, more than 1,250 girls and boys aged three to 18 are pupils there.

He said: “It’s long overdue. There’s not enough changing rooms or showers.

“We can’t give match day tickets to parents and members of the opposition team.

“It’s an embarrassing welcome to north London.”

Cllr Shimon Ryde also spoke on behalf of the 58 neighbours who wrote objections to the application.

Committee member Cllr Jack Cohen also expressed concerns about the proposals during the meeting.

It was rejected on various grounds, including for both safety and aesthetic reasons.

After the meeting, former head boy Andrew Barnett, who now lives in Farm Avenue and is against the plans, said: “We feel rejecting this was the most sensible solution because it would destroy the whole fabric of the area.”

Back in 1999, Barnet Borough Council rejected the same proposal, saying it would make the already dangerous road less safe.

However, Mr Beard is now considering lodging an appeal and vowed to continue fighting for the plans to go through.

He said: “I feel irritated and frustrated because it came across as an emotional discussion.

“The facilities are very outdated, they need to be modernised.

“We actually feel allowing vehichles to access the site at Farm Avenue is a much safer option. We'll be appealing this."

 

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