An MP has called for “controversial” development plans to be put on hold until the coronavirus crisis is over.

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers warned residents could be “deprived of their democratic rights” if they are unable to take part in planning hearings and campaigns due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Ms Villiers said plans for more than 150 homes at the Whalebones Estate, High Barnet, and the 650-home scheme at the Victoria Quarter, New Barnet, should be temporarily halted.

She also called on TfL not to submit plans to build blocks of flats at High Barnet and Cockfosters Tube stations.

In a letter to Barnet Council’s planning committee chairman Cllr Shimon Ryde, Ms Villiers wrote: “If the planning committee proceeds with decisions on these applications in the ordinary way, I see no way in which residents can engage in the manner they normally would.

“If your committee were to then approve controversial development proposals in these circumstances, many of my constituents would feel disenfranchised and deprived of their ordinary democratic right to have a say in the local planning process.

“I find it difficult to see how planning decisions could be seen as fair in these circumstances.

“Can I appeal to you to suspend consideration of contested applications, such as the Victoria Quarter and Whalebones? I understand Transport for London has not yet submitted its application to build over High Barnet tube station. If it does so, I would urge you to suspend consideration of that as well.”

While the MP said she understood the economic importance of the planning system and timely decision-making, she added it would be unfair to press ahead with these schemes given the “major impact” they would have on residents’ quality of life and the environment.

Ms Villiers has written a similar letter to Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

She will also contact the Mayor of London and Transport for London to urge them not to submit development plans for the Tube stations.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: “The Government has been clear that there is an expectation that the planning system should continue to operate.

“The council has no power to refuse to validate new applications, except in some limited situations, or to delay publication or consultation once validation has happened.

“Residents still have the opportunity to comment on applications both in writing and online. The Government has also put in place a number of measures to support the council to run virtual planning committees which residents will be able to participate in.

“We will continue to consider what greater flexibility we may be able to introduce to respond to current events.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also been approached for comment.