Neighbours have warned redevelopment plans near Middlesex University could force people out of their homes and make the area “a student ghetto”.

Residents predict the Hendon Hub development – planned to provide 792 student homes and extra facilities for the university in The Burroughs, Hendon – would cause a range of problems and have few benefits for those living nearby.

A business case for the council-led scheme – set to cost an estimated £90 million to build – claims it would lead to a “much-enhanced locality and public realm”, a larger and improved public library and new affordable homes.

READ MORE: First stage of major redevelopment centred on university approved

But it also reveals Barnet Council will use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to forcibly buy up homes if residents living within the development area refuse to sell.

The scheme would also involve building on car parks and relocating community facilities – including Hendon Public Library, set to be moved out of its Grade II-listed building to make way for a business school.

READ MORE: Grade II-listed public library building could become business school

Hendon resident Gideon Glass said: “The addition of further student accommodation here would just completely change the character of the area.

“Compulsory purchase of family homes for the benefit of the university seems to be contrary to the benefits that we are told the plan will bring.

“The removal of the car parks is illogical and is going to cause complete traffic chaos. Where are residents and business owners going to park their cars?”

Cheryl Tanner, who has lived in Hendon for 37 years, said: “CPO-ing homes in the 21st century – I find that so insensitive. For what? For the sake of the university. It is only for the university – nothing for the residents. We want to keep this a heritage area.”

Ms Tanner instead suggested building student homes at the Brent Cross regeneration site – a short journey from the university by public transport.

“Build a low-rise hotel, new homes – nice, affordable housing,” she added. “Do something positive for the community. If you want to raise money, raise the council tax – don’t turn us into a student ghetto.”

Ms Tanner claimed the library building was only underused because it had been “dumbed down” by the council.

“Residents like change for the good – not the dumbed-down library,” she said. “They steamroll things and forget the little man in the street.”

Objectors also questioned the viability of the Hendon Hub scheme – which Barnet Council claims would yield a “substantial” funding benefit – in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently two funding options being considered. The council could borrow money from the Government to finance the scheme or enter into an agreement with a private backer. Both involve leasing the new buildings to Middlesex University.

Professor Brad Blitz, Hendon resident and head of the department of education, practice and society at University College London Institute of Education, said: “The higher education market is particularly volatile right now. The pandemic has imposed on us new, remote ways of working, which will make traditional models of campus-based education less attractive for large numbers of students.

“On the face of it, Barnet Council’s plans for Middlesex University do not add up. Most universities provide buses to help get students to campus. Middlesex could do the same. It does not need to build student dorms in a heavily residential area, which is also home to historic and civic buildings. The university does not need to displace people to deliver its educational mission.”

Although plans for the scheme are in their early stages, with an outline business case approved and consultation underway on a supplementary planning document (SPD) designed to shape future development in the area, there are already concerns over the council’s engagement with residents.

Mr Glass said at the first online public meeting on the SPD, participants had been able to speak and ask questions.

But during the second meeting, the hosts only dealt with selected questions submitted via the chat function – which Mr Glass described as “basically a conversation amongst the planners, not a consultation”.

A petition calling for more consultation between the university, council, residents and businesses has so far gained more than 600 signatures.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: “Proposals for the Hendon Hub scheme aim to bring significant long-term benefits to the area. The ambition is that this transformational masterplan will deliver new civic and academic spaces along The Burroughs in Hendon and other nearby sites, as well as extensive benefits to residents and community groups.

“The views of residents and businesses are extremely important to the draft Hendon Hub proposals, and people will have the opportunity to express their opinions during a consultation due to begin in the coming weeks.

“This will take place after a consultation on the Burroughs and Middlesex University SPD, which will help guide future development generally in the area, closes on February 22.”

A spokesperson for Middlesex University said: “Middlesex University has always been an integral part of the community, and we are committed to working in collaboration with residents as we enter the first stage of consultation on the Hendon Hub proposals.

“Once the council’s SPD consultation is complete, consultation will open on the Hendon Hub proposals, which will run from February 26 to March 21.

“This consultation will offer opportunities for residents to provide feedback and shape the plans and proposals. In addition, the university is setting up a University and Residents Forum to facilitate more collaboration between the university and local residents.

“Middlesex University is proud to be part of Hendon, and we want any future development to improve the lives of everyone who lives, studies and works here.”