SUPERMARKET giant Asda has withdrawn its application to redevelop New Barnet following mammoth opposition from residents.

The proposal was due to go before Barnet Council planners tonight, but was recommended for refusal on the grounds it would be detrimental to the "character, appearance, townscape and quality of the area".

Asda's plans involved demolishing buildings on the old gasworks site to the north of East Barnet Road to make way for a 10,500 sq metre supermarket, 211 residential units, shops, restaurants and community space.

But residents were vehemently opposed to the scheme, fighting tooth-and-nail to have it dropped.

Nearly 2,000 people wrote letters of objection to Barnet Council, which is believed to be a record for any borough planning application.

They argued that the development was too big and would cause huge congestion in the town centre.

Their objections were supported last month by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), which branded Asda's plans "fundamentally flawed".

The development would threaten high street shops and create a "hostile environment for pedestrians", CABE reported.

David Howard, spokesman for the New Barnet Community Association, who spearheaded the Save New Barnet campaign, said: "This is a great victory for the people of New Barnet over the profits of big business.

"It reflects the fact that a recent retail study carried out by Barnet Council showed no need for more supermarkets in the area.

"New Barnet needs investment and improvements and this has given the community a second chance."

Asda voiced disappointment that planners had rejected the proposal following two years of consultation.

Tom McGarry, Asda property communications manager, said: “We wanted to work with the council to provide the investment and development necessary to revitalise New Barnet and provide major benefits to shoppers, home-buyers and jobseekers in the area.

"We disagree with the officers’ reasons for refusal and have withdrawn the application to work with CABE and the Greater London Authority to create a new proposal."

Mr McGarry was keen to stress that Asda’s proposals would not have the negative impacts the campaigners had suggested.

“The proposals for the mixed-use regeneration we promoted do not harm the town centre, and they are acceptable in terms of traffic due to our proposed investment in the road network," he said.

Asda is not the only superstore with an interest in the area - Tesco also plans to submit an application before the end of the year.

The superstore hopes to build a 30,000 sq ft superstore, several small shop units and a “small residential development” between Victoria Road and East Barnet Road.

Spokesman James Wiggam said: “We plan to continue to work on the scheme for as long as it takes to get it right."