THE first stage of the two part meeting to decide the £4.5bn Brent Cross Cricklewood development plans was heard this evening.

More than 100 people crammed into committee rooms one and two, while 50 more watched a live feed in a next door room of Barnet Council's planning committee.

Lib Dem Brent East MP Sara Teather was joined by Tory London Assembly member and mayor of Barnet Brian Coleman and fellow Labour assembly member Navin Shah opposing the plans.

Representatives of a coalition of residents groups, as well as the Lidl and Bestways stores in the Edgware Road also spoke out.

They gave warnings over traffic, the environmental impact, the effect on communities and wildlife, the size and density of the development plans and the provision of public transport.

However, the last speaker before the 10.30pm finish time was council leader Mike Freer, who left the panel with a stark warning.

He said: “This is the only plan on the table. If it's refused there's not an alternative plan. We cannot wait another ten years for something else to come up, with yet another generation there with no development.”

A full report of tonight's meetings and summaries of speakers will be available on the Times Series site tomorrow.