Objection to Pentavia planning application

I am writing to object to the above application in my capacity as Member of the London Assembly representing Barnet and Camden. I wish to address the Planning Committee in due course.


Land use and housing policy issues

The proposal does not comply with the draft planning brief produced by the Council, which rightly advocated a more mixed use development, and not such an intensification of the site. Moreover, the application does not comply with the Council’s Local Plan.


The loss of A1/A3 (Retail/Restaurant) units will lead to a reduction in local amenities. Given the large nearby developments at Millbrook Park, the proposed development at the former National Institute for Medical Research centre, the number of smaller scale but still substantial developments in Mill Hill nearing completion or recently completed, and likely future sites in the pipeline which include little or no retail, the area already suffers from a lack of amenity and retail, despite many more potential customers. This will lead to traffic and congestion elsewhere, or leave the new developments as dormitories, fit only as assets for overseas owners.


The proposed ‘affordability’ contribution is inadequate. The proposed level of allegedly affordable rent is to be set at a level higher than the existing average market rent for the area, which is already largely unaffordable to many. I therefore do not believe that this scheme has a genuinely affordable element; and with rents set above existing market levels it could have a knock on effect, ratcheting up even further current private sector market rent levels nearby. I also do not believe a flat-for-rent only development is appropriate for an area where the demand is for family-sized homes and the preservation of mixed communities.


The proposed scale and design of the scheme is also out of keeping with the neighbouring area. 9 to 7 storeys are too high, and create an overbearing and enclosed design. It represents an overdevelopment of the area, which is out of conformity with the draft design brief, which advocated a mixed-use medium density development. The design brief proposed a maximum of 3-5 storeyed development. The designed density of the scheme is more in keeping with a city centre, rather than a suburb.


Local infrastructure


This scheme, in the context of other nearby developments, will lead to a large increase in the local population, without any accompanying improvement in local public services to cope with the increased demand. Given the severe shortage of school places in the borough, a result of the Council’s inaction, I am concerned that any children living in the proposed development would have to travel far to access schools.


The same also applies to primary care health services.


Transport and Parking


Local public transport provision is poor at this site, which is sandwiched between the M1 and A1. Pedestrian crossings and access is constrained. The proposed development has removed substantial local retail opportunities.  There will be a high level of residents’ car usage for the most basic of daily tasks, such as shopping or travelling to and from work. I do not believe the parking provision will be sufficient to deal with the expected need. This will cause overflow parking on nearby streets, and will impact on already heavily congested roads, such as Bunns Lane and Woodcroft Avenue.




The polluted environment between the M1 and A1 will leave the development with very poor air quality. Air quality in the scheme is so bad that the scheme design has inward facing balconies, creating an oppressive and overbearing aspect. Any outward facing windows will not be safely openable due to pollution.


There is a lack of open space for older youths’ recreation. A children’s playground is not suitable for teenagers, and as pedestrian access outside the site is so poor, there is nowhere for them to go.


There is a significant risk of light pollution, which will impact on the nearby scientifically important and long standing UCL Observatory.




This scheme constitutes a significant overdevelopment and unwelcome change of use of the site, with consequent loss of amenity for the community. The design is unacceptable and the flats are not affordable. The local infrastructure is inadequate to cope with another significant increase in the local population. There is little public transport at this site, which, due to the difficult access, will result in more residents owning cars, than there are parking spaces to accommodate. The air quality is so poor, that any flat would be almost uninhabitable.


On these grounds I would strongly urge officers and the Planning Committee to reject this application.


Yours sincerely,


Andrew Dismore

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden


City Hall

The Queen’s Walk