Heritage and parking were among concerns when planning chiefs at Barnet Council were quizzed about major development around a university.

Officials answered questions from the public at a consultation meeting on the supplementary planning document (SPD) that will shape the Hendon Hub project yesterday (Wednesday).

Residents were not able to speak during the meeting. Instead, assistant service director Neeru Kareer encouraged planning officials to respond to questions from the public during the consultation and submitted using the chat function.

The Hendon Hub scheme is designed to provide 792 student homes and extra facilities for Middlesex University on several sites surrounding The Burroughs, Hendon.

Ms Kareer asked whether other locations in Barnet were considered for the development, given the historical and architectural significance of The Burroughs – home to 20 statutory listed and 23 locally listed buildings.

Jonathan Hardy, heritage and conservation manager, said: “Not in my knowledge. The sites that have been identified are those sites that can best come forward – although I would say it is not necessarily the case that each of the sites will be redeveloped.”

Ngaire Thomson, principal policy planner, said the sites in the SPD area were identified for redevelopment in the local plan – a framework for development drawn up by the council in consultation with the community.

“We had a call for sites, and these were put forward. That’s where these came from,” she added.

In response to concerns over the boundary of the SPD, Ms Thomson said schools within the boundary “are not going to be looked at for redevelopment”.

The planning officer added that Hendon Fire Station “is not moving, to our knowledge”. “London Fire Brigade has committed itself to that site for the foreseeable future,” she added. “We are not looking at the fire station.”

Ms Thomson acknowledged that during the consultation residents had said they liked the “intrinsic historic value” of the area and had “a lot of pride in the civic character of the area and value the library and the town hall”.

“We are looking for high-quality design that respects the character of the area, especially the historic fabric, creates safe environments that reduce the opportunities for anti-social behaviour, and it should be designed to allow for people to retain daylight, sunlight and privacy,” she explained.

Officials responded to residents’ concerns over the inclusion of the Meritage Centre – used by Citizens Advice Bureau and other community organisations – within the SPD.

Ms Thomson said: “We have made it quite clear to the Hendon Hub team we would expect the Citizens Advice Bureau to be offered space within the redevelopment. I believe that is going to happen.

“Similarly, with other community uses within the Meritage Centre and the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) – we know they have had discussions with them as well.”

Mr Hardy described the Meritage Centre buildings as “not of great architectural interest” and said they did not contribute to the character of Church End Conservation Area.

He added that any new development must be respectful of the conservation area and said there was an opportunity to “open up” views of St Mary’s Church.

Responding to questions over the benefits of the scheme to neighbours, Ms Thomson said the SPD looked to promote the “dual use” of facilities, so residents would be able to use them as well as students.

“They are looking at a theatre, for example. We would encourage the university to open up the theatre to the community and community groups to use,” she added.

Responding to traffic and parking concerns, Ms Thomson said transport planners were unable to attend the meeting – but she had been assured the car parks included within the SPD boundary “will be assessed properly once the Covid restrictions are lifted and transport and traffic patterns return to normal”.

Residents can provide feedback on the SPD until Monday, February 22. Information on how to do so is here.