A plan to build on a disused bowling green has been thrown out by councillors following concerns the site was not marketed properly.

Developer Higgins Homes wanted to build eight houses at the site of the former West Finchley Bowling Club on Dudley Road, Finchley.

Higgins Homes’ previous bid to build on the land was turned down because councillors said it would lead to the loss of a community facility.

But the developer lodged a new application with the council, claiming it had tried to market the site for community use and had not received any “substantive offers”.

The developer also pledged £50,000 to improve Victoria Park Bowls Green to make up for the loss of West Finchley Bowling Club.

Barnet Council’s planning officers recommended the new scheme for approval – despite opposition from 169 members of the public – saying Higgins Homes had overcome the previous reasons for refusal.

But at a meeting of Finchley and Golders Green area planning committee on Monday (July 22), councillors heard claims that the site had not been properly marketed.

Julia Hines, who lives on Briarfield Avenue, called the marketing “sub-optimal” and branded the costs to rent the site “excessive”.

She said: “We know there is continued demand, because the bowling club closed because it was evicted. The number of objections shows the value of the land.

“It has to be marketed for one year. But from November to June, the site was occupied by squatters, and neither the developer nor the agent had access. It was only marketed for six months, and one month at a reduced price.”

Ms Hines said nurseries, gyms and a local music club could use the site if it was not built on – but a marketing report said high costs and the need to improve facilities had put them off.

The applicant’s agent, Isobel McGeever, told the committee that the marketing strategy had been deemed effective by the council’s property services team.

She said: “The team has confirmed there is no demand for not only a bowling club site, but for any alternative community facilities”.

Ms McGeever pointed out that the Mayor’s London Plan stresses the importance of small sites in meeting the growing demand for homes in the capital.

She claimed that the site had been marketed continuously on the internet and through an estate agent – despite the presence of squatters in the former club house.

Ms McGeever also pointed out the site was marketed at £35,000 per year and then cut to £30,000 per year in October 2018, which she said was “quite a significant reduction”.

But the committee unanimously refused the plans, ruling they would lead to the loss of a sports facility and an asset of community value in an area where there is already a lack of open space.

The decision comes after a planning inspector refused a bid to build on tennis courts in Golders Green, ruling that the site seemed to have been “marketed for its value as a potential housing site rather than as a community facility”.



We have a new Twitter account

For more breaking news, local headlines, What’s On features and sport, follow our brand new Twitter account: @BarnetTimes

We also have a Facebook page. ‘Like’ our page to keep up-to-date with news in Barnet.