There were cries of “shame” in the council chamber as councillors voted to approve a major redevelopment scheme.

Barnet Borough Council’s planning and environment committee yesterday gave the thumbs up to the West Hendon regeneration scheme.

The estate sits between a section of the A5 Edgware Road known as the Broadway and the Welsh Harp Reservoir.

The work, which could now begin as early as October, will involve the construction of 2,000 homes, a two form entry primary school, a nursery and new community facilities.

The new houses will be a mixture of one, two, three and four-bedroom flats and will include 500 affordable homes.

The plans also include a community centre and two pedestrian bridges over the Welsh Harp, which is jointly managed by Barnet Council, Brent Borough Council and British Waterways.

The existing 1960s houses, which have fallen into disrepair, will be knocked down.

Barnet Council Deputy Leader, Councillor Daniel Thomas welcomed the committee’s decision.

He said: “I am extremely pleased the much needed transformation of this estate has moved a step closer to becoming a reality.

“A great deal of time and effort has gone into making Barnet’s regeneration schemes feasible in a very difficult economic climate.

"I’m delighted that this project will deliver much needed quality housing and contribute to enhancing the town centre here.

A spokesman for Barratt Metropolitan, which is building the scheme, added: "This planning approval is a huge milestone in the long awaited regeneration of the West Hendon Estate.

"We look forward to working closely with residents of the estate and other community stakeholders as we move forwards with this hugely exciting project."

The scheme has been controversial, with groups including the RSPB, the London Wildlife Trust the Green Party and the Welsh Harp Conservation group objecting to it on the grounds it would damage rare and fragile wildlife in the neighbouring site of special scientific interest.

Councillors from Barnet and Brent, Greater London Assembly Members Andrew Dismore and Navin Shah and members of parliament also disagreed with the scheme.

They were concerned about the effects of a significant increase in population and the future of the current tenants, whom they felt had not been properly consulted.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Julie Johnson, who lives in Woolmead Avenue, said she had been “disappointed” by the result.

She said: “I am in favour of regeneration, but this development with 2,000 houses crammed in a small space is far too dense.

“The majority of residents who came to my office objected to the scheme and I agree with them.”

However she accepted the councillors had had the chance to properly debate the proposals.

Chairman of West Hendon Residents’ Association and a member of Welsh Harp Conservation Group Derrick Chung said he felt let down by councillors.

He said: “I can’t say what I think about the council’s decision without being very rude.

“Most of the people in the audience objected to the scheme but for a few representatives from Barratt Homes and the council planning officer who gave a long speech selling it."

Mr Chung questioned what the council and developers meant by affordable homes. 

He said: “There is little security for existing tenants. We fear we will be forced out as we will be unable to afford the new houses, creating another area of deprivation somewhere else.

"The council have the interests of private contractors such as Barratt Homes at heart, not the residents it represents.”

Rather than knocking down the existing homes to build new ones, Mr Chung felt the council should have concentrated on keeping them in good repair.

He added: “We’re going to take this to the Mayor of London. He spoke out against Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing, we want him to stand by his words and show he has a heart.”