A last-ditch bid to hold up a controversial regeneration scheme has failed after only one Tory councillor opposed the plans.

Labour councillors called for a decision on the full business case for the Hendon Hub scheme to be delayed during a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 27, warning against taking a “gamble with residents’ money”.

Their call came as campaigners staged a protest outside Hendon Town Hall, chanting “stop the Hendon land grab” and “save our community”.

But Cllr Nizza Fluss, a Conservative councillor for Hendon, was the only member of her party to vote against the business case, meaning the project can move on to the next stage.

The initial plans for the Hendon Hub – designed to provide student homes and facilities for Middlesex University on Barnet Council-owned sites in The Burroughs, Hendon – sparked criticism over its impact on residents, heritage and culture. Some 88 per cent of people who responded to a consultation question opposed the scheme.

Speaking during the full council meeting, council leader Cllr Dan Thomas said the proposals were a “major opportunity to improve The Burroughs” and listed changes that had been made to the scheme in response to the consultation.

He said there had been a 26 per cent reduction in student accommodation and pointed out the plans now included affordable housing and a health and wellbeing centre. The library – set to be moved out of its Grade 2-listed building to make way for a business school – will be relocated to its new home without being housed in a temporary structure, he added.

But Labour leader Cllr Barry Rawlings described the development as a “speculative gamble” and called for a delay so the council could work with residents to come up with a “viable and sustainable alternative”.

He warned there was uncertainty over future student numbers, construction costs, staff shortages and the effects of any delays.

“We are being asked to vote in favour of a project where there are still a lot of unknowns and no clear picture of what the financial structure will actually be,” Cllr Rawlings said.

“We are stewards of the public purse and should not take such a gamble with residents’ money.”

Cllr Fluss also warned against “rushing into” the project, saying she feared the actual costs of the Hendon Hub would “far exceed” the estimates made by outsourcing firm Capita.

She told the meeting that residents wanted the purpose-built library to stay and to “continue to be the leading library of Barnet”.

“We are at a major turning point in education, and the future of learning seems very much hybrid – online and in-person,” Cllr Fluss said. “Residents are concerned that the project is for the benefit of Middlesex University, not for them.”

But another Conservative councillor for Hendon, Cllr Mark Shooter, spoke in favour of the scheme, claiming the financial benefits would be “substantial” and help the council “sustain and reduce council tax in the future”.

He claimed Hendon was “crying out for redevelopment” and said the council should help Middlesex University to “get to the next tier”.

“The alternative plans could be, for example, more council estates – and we have got enough council estates in Hendon at the moment,” Cllr Shooter added. “It will take a lot of pressure off HMOs (houses in multiple occupation)”.

Cllr Fluss joined Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors in voting against the business case, while the remaining Tory councillors who were present voted in favour. The proposals will still need to obtain planning permission before construction work can begin.