Councillors have thrown out plans to build extra floors on top of existing flats amid claims it would leave some residents living in darkness.

Plans for 19 extra flats on the Chandos Way Estate in Garden Suburb had been recommended for approval by Barnet Council’s planning officers – despite the fact that nearly 250 people had objected to the scheme.

The development would have involved adding up to two extra storeys on top of several existing blocks, as well as providing an additional 21 parking spaces, 50 cycle spaces, a gym and a children’s play area.

None of the proposed flats would be affordable, although the developer had agreed to make a financial contribution to off-site affordable homes.

Speaking at a meeting of the Finchley and Golders Green planning committee on Tuesday (January 8), Justin Kenworthy, the developer’s planning consultant, said the application was “in partial recognition of … the housing crisis in the UK and London.

He added: “We do need to use land more efficiently in order to protect the green belt.”

The developer proposed to build ‘sun tunnels’ through the building to make up for the loss of daylight that would result from sealing off the rooflights in 49 existing flats.

But Cllr Rohit Grover, Conservative member for Garden Suburb, told the committee the development would harm “the jewel in Barnet’s crown”.

The applicant’s plans to build an extra eight flats on the site were refused at a previous planning committee meeting, and Cllr Grover said the new proposals would have “a far greater impact on the community and character of the entire area”.

He added: “I have been into a resident’s home and they covered up the skylights for me, and I can tell you it is the difference between living in daylight and living in darkness.

“This scheme will impact on views from the (Hampstead) Heath Extension, where the horizon is edged currently with tree crowns, small brick chimneys and steep, tiled roofs.

“When looking out from there, it is almost impossible to feel you are in the middle of a major city.

“This is the jewel in Barnet’s crown. To introduce upon this scene a series of rooftop extensions clad in steel with large areas of plate glass would be to its serious detriment.”

Cllr Alan Schneiderman, Labour member for Woodhouse, cast doubt on the claims that the sun tunnels would provide the same amount of light as the rooflights.

But Mr Kenworthy said the manufacturer of the tunnels assured they would provide “the same level of light or more” – a claim that was greeted with scepticism from councillors.

Cllr John Marshall, Conservative member for Garden Suburb, pointed out that the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust had objected to the development and urged committee members to vote against it.

The trust said the scheme would “damage the setting of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Conservation Area, cause great harm to the amenities of residents in the conservation area and harm the setting of listed buildings of international significance”.

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the plans over the potential loss of light, overdevelopment and the impact on a conservation area and neighbouring roads.