A housing development on a strip of land near a busy highway would reduce access to green space for the elderly and disabled, neighbours warned.

People living in Basing Way and Moat Crescent criticised plans by Opendoor Homes to build blocks between two and four storeys high on land close to the North Circular Road in Finchley Church End.

But the developer won permission after council officers told a committee that while there would be a “small net loss” of green space, the quality of the remaining land would be improved.

The development, on land at Basing Way, Moat Crescent and Amberden Avenue, was approved at a meeting of Barnet Council’s strategic planning committee on November 2. Opendoor Homes aims for all of the 46 units to be made available at affordable rent levels.

Sarah Rubinson, who lives in Basing Way, told the committee: “The only two other green spaces within a ten-minute walk – Stephens Gardens and East Finchley Cemetery – have limited opening hours. The next closest is a 20-minute walk away.

“Not having this space at Basing Way green would disadvantage all residents – particularly the elderly and the disabled, who are also the most vulnerable to isolation as a result of the pandemic.

“Only a few residents have private gardens. Allowing the development would significantly increase inequality in access to green space.”

Priya Velan, who lives in Moat Crescent, added: “This green has been our communal retreat. Our residents living in flats only have this green area, and there is no other garden space accessible to them.

“I don’t want the landscape to change. It is beautiful as it is now. We want to keep the green as it is.”

Gerry Cassidy, planning partner at BPTW, said the development had been altered in response to residents’ feedback.

“We’ve reduced the amount of dwellings from 54 to 46, we’ve moved the tallest elements of each block away from the nearest residents, and we’ve also reduced the scale and massing of blocks,” he said.

“We recognise the importance of the amenity space, particularly in the current pandemic. The scheme will see an area of inaccessible scrubland at the northern end of Basing Way cleared to provide a landscaped amenity space for young children – but also new tree planting and a nature trail, which we think will be of significant benefit to existing residents.”

In response to questioning from councillors, a planning officer said there would be a “net loss” of open space but added: “What we have to take into account is there is an inaccessible area of scrubland to the north of the site that cannot be accessed. That area will be brought back into use as open space.

“The benefit of what is being proposed is considered to be significantly better than what is there at the minute.”

Cllr Eva Greenspan (Conservative, Finchley Church End) and Cllr Julian Teare (Conservative, High Barnet) opposed the development, but it was approved when the nine other members of the committee voted in favour.