The Guardian: "First-time buyers may be the losers in shared equity scheme"

Link to The Guardian

"The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claims that government interventions in the housing market 'make another lost decade of market stagnation more likely'.

"But the IPPR says the biggest beneficiaries have been large housebuilders, which have used the scheme to sell an oversupply of properties, particularly one- and two-bedroom city centre apartments, at a time when house prices have been falling. The result is that the government has in effect propped up weak housebuilders."


Barnet Eye web site: Shoppers 'forced' from high streets to Brent Cross

Link to 'Barnet Eye'

"Councillor Brian Coleman, Conservative candidate for the GLA, chose the run-up to Christmas to abolish 'Pay and Display' parking."

"One local trader who I know yesterday described Coleman as 'The grinch who stole Christmas'. In the coming year, I predict many small shops will cease trading. The boarded-up shops will be a testament to Coleman and his incompetence."


RAF Museum: "Barnet's Finest - RAF Museum London Event"

Link to RAF Museum

7 July 2012 - 8 July 2012  ("More details to follow.")

"A weekend of events dedicated the best that the London Borough of Barnet has to offer the local community in terms of businesses, advice and entertainment. 

"Details are currently being finalised, but activities will include concerts, family fun plus seminars for business owners or members of the local community looking to set up their own businesses."


The Guardian: "The housing crisis is not yet solved"

Link to The Guardian

"David Cameron has woken up to England's housing crisis. A Tory party once wedded to a "home-owning democracy" now finds itself presiding over a significant fall in home ownership, hence a new housing strategy unveiled this week.

"David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, summed up the dilemma when he said the system is working for the top 10% of earners at one extreme and the 15% in social housing at the other – 'And, to be frank, unless you're already housed it doesn't really work for anyone else.' 

"The challenge now facing providers is to develop properties for rent at part-subsidised and full market rates to fill the gap in the market left by the uncertainty. That is the new reality."


Evening Standard: "'Be on your guard or lose playing fields' "

Link to Evening Standard
"Londoners are urged today to 'be vigilant' to their local playing fields being lost amid fears that new planning laws could make it easier to build on them.

"Charity London Playing Fields Foundation has launched a register of at-risk fields warning: 'Once lost, a playing field isn't coming back'."


Barnet Times: "Arrogance of this leadership"

Link to web site

"It is clear from the letters you publish every week that the residents of Barnet have the worst, most inefficient, uncaring local authority in London, perhaps the country.

"The letters illuminate a culture of arrogance and bullying of both individuals and organisations trying to represent the views of residents."


Barnet Press: "Residents fight to save their car park"

Link to Barnet Press

"RESIDENTS from the Grahame Park Estate turned out yesterday morning to protest against the scrapping of a car park, which they say will leave disabled and elderly drivers 'prisoners in their own homes'.

"Choices For Grahame Park, a housing company currently working alongside Barnet Council to regenerate the estate, plan to permanently close the car park on the north side of Lower Strand. The work will also see the bungalows next to the car park replaced with multi-level social housing."


Vickim57: "Great People Everywhere, Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Grahame Park Estate"

Link to vickim57 web site

"Today is the final day of an exhibition at the RAF Museum put together by young people from Grahame Park estate. The exhibition is called the Grahame Park Estate Story. It's housed in the Aeronauts Interactive hall. The space rather dwarfs the exhibition, which is a shame, but the organisers are looking for new venues to host it, now that its run at the RAF Museum has come to an end. 

"... Grahame Park estate was built on an old aerodrome. The history of development in this area is very much tied up with the history and development of aviation, both civilian and military. (I live in old RAF married quarters, of all places.)"


Barnet Times: "Colindale pupils unveil new school building"

Link to the Barnet Times

"PUPILS at Colindale Primary unveiled their new £13 million school to visitors this week.

"After waving goodbye to the school’s former 78-year-old building in July, parents and guests were welcomed to view the school’s new building in Poolsford Road."


Daily Telegraph: "Planning reforms: Greg Clark admits changes 'could have been clearer' "

Link to Daily Telegraph

"In the first sign of a climb-down over the reforms, the planning minister Greg Clark admitted that some of the most controversial proposals on brownfield land, housing targets and 'sustainable development' could have been clearer. 

"Mr Clark told a seminar organised by the British Property Federation that it was difficult to express the Government's intentions at the same time as reducing bureaucracy. 

"Mr Clark is pushing through plans to replace 1,300 pages of planning regulations in England with just 52 pages in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)."


Young people work for 18 months on exhibition showing the story of the Grahame Park Estate

"There is an exhibition, open until the end of September, by young people working with charity Catch22, to show the history of the Grahame Park Estate. Built on RAF land in the 1970’s, it explores the area from the residents’ perspective. 

"The young people want to show the positive side of the estate, and challenge the negative image that it often has with the wider community. For almost 18 months, they have worked on the project, supported by a £25,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, awarded under the Young Roots scheme, learning skills such as archiving, interviewing, and curating.

"The exhibition is at the RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, NW9 5LL until Friday 30th September, in the Aeronauts Interactive Centre in the Museum. Entrance to the exhibition and the Museum is free, and is open from 10am to 5.30pm every day.

"Michelle Allen, Project Worker for Catch22’s Barnet Action 4 Youth, says:
"30 young people have been involved in putting this exhibition together, they have received training from the RAF Museum and Oral History Society, and worked with local residents to gather information and stories. The skills they have learnt will help them in all areas of their life. Far too often the estate is depicted in a negative way, and we wanted to show the positive side and the sense of community. This project has shown that young people do take pride in their community and they have worked hard to make this happen."
"In addition to the exhibition, the young people have put together an information and resource pack for local schools, youth groups and anyone interested in finding out more about the estate. For example, did you know that what is now the Concourse (shopping area), was once a runway? The pack includes a 10 minute DVD of interviews with residents.

"Anyone interested in obtaining one of the resource packs or wanting further information about the exhibition should contact the Catch22 Barnet Action 4 Youth office, on 020 8205 8341, or email ba4y@catch-22.org.uk"


There are many more planning articles at the

Daily Telegraph: "A licence to build isn’t in the national interest"

Link to Daily Telegraph

"The problem is caused by the proposed new 'presumption in favour of sustainable development', which many see as too broad a concept and,effectively, a licence to build. The fear is that this will tip the scales too much in favour of developers – it is no coincidence that they are its most enthusiastic champions. 

"So far, the Government has taken the view that bureaucracy in the planning system is preventing young people getting on to the housing ladder. One good aspect of these reforms is the simplification of the regulations from 1,000 pages to 52. But in their article in the Financial Times yesterday, Messrs Osborne and Pickles focused more on the importance of these reforms to economic growth. They targeted those who were 'most vociferous in calls for government to bring forward a growth plan' as being 'among the most vociferous opponents to one of its central planks'.”
Daily Telegraph:

The Guardian: "This wrecking ball is Osborne's version of sustainable development"

Link to The Guardian

"Like the National Health Service and the welfare state, our planning laws arose from the great political settlement that followed the second world war, in which people of all classes gave their lives for their country. The intention was that Britain, saved by collective sacrifice, would never again be run for the exclusive benefit of the rich and powerful. That promise is being gnawed away by political parties controlled by the elite.

"In the Daily Telegraph last week, Geoffrey Lean claimed that the assault on sound planning has been caused by young metropolitan wonks in the coalition replacing 'the old grouse-shooting knights of the shires'. In fact, it is the grouse-shooting knights of the shires, through their Country Land and Business Association, who have led this attack on the planning system. When faced with a choice between its ill-defined 'rural values' and making buckets of unearned cash, there's no doubt about where the shot falls. This is the reassertion of old power against democracy."

Barnet Council regeneration plan: no great excitement

Click above to enlarge,
or link to Barnet committee report, 5/9/2011


Barnet Times: "History of Grahame Park Estate exhibited in Colindale"

Link to Barnet Times

"YOUNG and old converged at the RAF Museum on Tuesday, August 23, to launch an exhibition celebrating the history of Colindale’s Grahame Park Estate.

"The Grahame Park Estate Story exhibition is the culmination of 18 months of work by a group of 30 local young people, who interviewed residents and researched its development from the site of an aerodrome in 1910."


Barnet Times: "History of Grahame Park Estate by Barnet Action 4 Youth group"

Link to Barnet Times

"A GROUP of teenagers have put together a history of Barnet’s biggest estate to challenge its negative image. 

"The group have put together an exhibition of their work, which tells the story from the point of view of residents, and it will be on at the RAF Museum, in Grahame Park Way, from Monday, 22 August, to Friday, 30 September."


Barnet Press: "Windows were smashed at Colindale police station"

Click above for Barnet Press

"Barnet police say they have faced several “skirmishes” with groups of youths in copycat raids on shops, businesses and cars, but there have been few repeats of the scenes played out in Tottenham, Enfield and Croydon.

"Borough commander Neil Basu issued a stark warning to residents. He said:
"I never thought I would say this, but I urge law-abiding residents to stay off the streets."


Vickim57 blog: "Colindale - can you feel the rhythm? Or do you need someone to take your pulse?"

"These figures are taken from Barnet council's "State of the Borough report":
"Already London’s most populous borough, with 349,800 residents in 2011 ...The Barnet population is projected to grow by 5.5 per cent over next five years – an increase of 19,400 people."
And they are all going to live in Colindale.*

Link to Vickim57 web site

* This is a slight exaggeration, for comic effect, but only slight. These are the figures: Colindale (+10,900), Golders Green (+7,300), Mill Hill (+2,000) and West Hendon (+1,900)."

The Guardian: "Who can afford Boris Johnson's new affordable housing?"

Link to The Guardian

"The mayor of London's housing advisor was right to bang the drum for investment in affordable housing on the Guardian housing network last week. But it's a curious message to deliver on the day that the government announced its package of barely affordable homes using a grant cut by two thirds.

"The mayor made his manifesto commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes in three years on the back of a £3.7bn affordable housing grant. To put this in context, even if the mayor had met this target (moving the goalpost by a full year) that wouldn't have been enough to meet the pressing need for social housing."


Mr Reasonable: Wasted planning money in north Barnet

Link to Mr Reasonable

"Last year plans for the redevelopment of Brunswick Park Hub were hastily put forward.

"... One thing I was still unclear about was how much this has cost Barnet Council taxpayers. I still don’t know the full extent of the costs but as part of my audit investigation I have unearthed a bill from Elevate Partnership for £299,269 who worked on the design of the scheme. So much money for absolutely no return."


29 June: Cabinet Resources Committee - Grahame Park Project

Link to Barnet Council web site
"This report seeks approval for the deferment of historic costs owed to the Council from the Council’s developer partner for the regeneration of the Grahame Park Estate ‘Choices for Grahame Park (CfGP) Limited’, until 1st July 2012, in response to revised funding criteria imposed by the scheme’s principal funder.

"Deferring the payments would allow CfGP to fund these costs from receipts, rather than borrowing the money from their funder and CfGP’s parent company, Genesis Housing Association.

"The Grahame Park regeneration scheme has reached a critical point. Whilst the economy remains fragile, there are key risks associated with regeneration viability. By not enabling flexibility, and approving deferral of historic costs owed to the Council, continued project delivery is at risk.

"Deferring payment of the historic costs owed to the Council would allow CfGP to fund these costs from receipts, rather than borrowing the money from their funder and CfGP’s parent company, Genesis Housing Association. Under the deferment proposal, the Council will be repaid its costs on 1st July 2012, when all the new homes for sale currently under construction have been sold.

"The sales income is critical to the successful delivery of the project, one of the most critical factors in the viability of the project. Sales and marketing of the homes for sale is being delivered by Countryside Properties. Sales are currently progressing at a rate of five per month.

"In 2009, the Council and CfGP jointly appointed a Sales Valuer, who will certify to the Council that sales revenue, for each dwelling sold, represents proper value in the market conditions prevailing at the time of sale. However, CfGP has confirmed to the Council that payment will be made on 1st July 2012, irrespective of sales performance on Phase 1a."


bdonline: "Jestico & Whiles' estate revamp gets green light"

Link to bdonline.co.uk

"A team led by Jestico & Whiles has received planning permission for the next phase of the redevelopment of the Grahame Park estate in the borough of Barnet, north London.

"The London-based practice is working with Peter Barber Architects, Studio 54 Architecture and landscape architect Novell Tullett on revamping the 1970s estate, following the team’s success in an RIBA design competition in 2008."


Dept. for Transport: Road Safety Strategy, and 'Easier 20mph Zones"

Link to PDF file

"The 'Strategic Framework for Road Safety' sets out our approach to continuing to reduce killed and seriously injured casualties on Britain's roads.

"Our focus is on increasing the range of educational options for the drivers who make genuine mistakes and can be helped to improve while improving enforcement against the most dangerous and deliberate offenders. Additionally, at the local level, we will be increasing the road safety information that is available to local citizens."

Link to press release
Ministers cut traffic signs red tape for local councils 

"Measures to reduce time-consuming and costly bureaucracy for councils wanting to use 20 mph schemes have been announced by Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.

"The changes - the first to be announced as part of the 'Traffic Signs Policy Review' - will mean that councils can use signs painted on roads as an alternative to expensive upright signs, cutting street clutter, as well as costs.

"In addition, the Government will reduce the need for councils to use speed humps in 20 mph zones, and make it cheaper and easier for councils to put in place variable speed limits outside schools, when local residents want these schemes."


BBC: "Air quality row may hit Olympic Games" (and the rest of us)

Link to BBC web site

"The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has admitted many cities will not meet EU targets on air quality before 2020, while meeting London's targets could be as late as 2025.

"Existing levels are thought to cause about 3,000 people [in London] to die prematurely each year. Alan Andrews, an air pollution specialist with the environmental law organisation ClientEarth, said:
"We knew meeting the original 2015 target was going to be difficult, but I thought they'd give it a go - but they seem to have thrown their hands up and said 'it's too difficult'."


Planning, the Law and your Rights!

Talk Action and Friends of the Earth are doing a residential weekend in July (along with a Saturday ‘taster session’) on planning, the law and your rights. It is a weekend of workshops and networking to empower people to make a difference. Click below for details!


Edgelands: "Wilderness that is much closer than you think"

BBC iPlayer, week of 15 April 2011

Author: Michael Symmons Roberts, Paul Farley
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780224089029
Published: 17 February 2011
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd

"Edgelands explores a wilderness that is much closer than you think: a debatable zone, neither the city nor the countryside, but a place in-between - so familiar it is never seen for looking. Passed through, negotiated, unnamed, ignored, the edgelands have become the great wild places on our doorsteps, places so difficult to acknowledge they barely exist.

"Edgelands forms a critique of what we value as 'wild', and allows our allotments, railways, motorways, wasteland and water a presence in the world, and a strange beauty all of their own. Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts - both well-known poets - have lived and worked and known these places all their lives, and in Edgelands their journeying prose fuses, in the anonymous tradition, to allow this in-between world to speak up for itself.

"They write about mobile masts and gravel pits, business parks and landfill sites in the same way the Romantic writers forged a way of looking at an overlooked - but now familiar - landscape of hills and lakes and rivers. England, the first country to industrialise, now offers the world's most mature post-industrial terrain, and is still in a state of flux: Edgelands takes the reader on a journey through its forgotten spaces, so that we can marvel at this richly mysterious, cheek-by-jowl region in our midst."


The Guardian: "For Richer, for Poorer"

Link to The Guardian
'So You Think You Know About Britain?'
by Danny Dorling, 308pp, Constable, £8.99

"What is most valuable about this book is that it is angry, rather than indignant. You are asked not to wring your hands, but to examine the relationship between your place in society and the place in which you live, and in so doing to recognise that there are winners and losers, rather than the deserving and undeserving.

"For our towns, cities and villages to become as socially mixed as they were back in the mid-1970s, from when all markers of inequality in Britain began to rise, nearly 2.5 million of us would have to move – poorer people to richer areas, and richer people to poorer ones. This shows how many people have won or lost, more dramatically than was possible before 1979, under the new rules of the "property-owning democracy".


Evening Standard: "Joined up thinking of Pimlico's Peabody Avenue"

Link to Evening Standard

"In housing today, there are probably two strands that have emerged - one concerned with superficial branding to do with novelty and marketing. Then there is a quieter, understated strand, of which we're certainly a part, that wants to invest the maximum amount of a limited budget, in durability, and the inherent qualities of the architecture."


New web site in Hendon Constituency: OffordWatch

Link to web site
"[This blog] will be publishing every question, speech or quote that Mr Offord asks or gives – to give the voters the knowledge, come the next election."


Barnet Times: "Construction to start this week on Zenith House site in Colindale"

Link to Barnet Times

"Genesis Housing Group has appointed construction group Hill to build the 309 home development on the Zenith House site on the corner of Colindeep Lane and Edgware Road.

"The project, built around a central green courtyard, will feature 174 private apartments and 97 social housing units, with 38 going to shared-ownership"


Approval for Zenith House, Edgware Road

Link to 'European Urban Architecture'

"European Urban Architecture has obtained planning consent for the redevelopment of Zenith House on Edgware Road in London on behalf of the applicant, Genesis Housing Group."

Earlier report in Barnet Times.


Colindale transport in 2050 (it is not as if Barnet can be bothered to think ahead)

Euroclick for Eurolink to Eurosite

Press conference on the adoption of the EU White paper on Transport 2050:

Today we present our Roadmap for the Future of Transport 2050. Freedom to travel is a basic right for our citizens, and it is critical to the development of a Europe's business sector. We need a competitive European Transport System, which delivers transport for people.

We have meet very challenging goals by the 2050s, [including]:
  • No more conventionally-fuelled cars in our city centres, by the middle of the century
  • A 50% shift in middle distance journeys, by both passengers and freight, from road to rail and other modes.


The speech WE would give: "£1.5-billion of Colindale development - and no transport infrastructure"

Link to web site
Keynote speaker:

Director of Planning, Housing and Regeneration, Barnet

Chartered Town Planner and corporate member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI).

Profile: a strategic development and regeneration expert in London involved in some of the largest development and regeneration schemes in the Capital for 20 years including the Olympics/Thames Gateway, Kings Cross, Wembley, London Bridge, Brent Cross Cricklewood.


Daily Telegraph: "A global energy war looms"

Link to Telegraph
"It should indeed be possible to accommodate the rise of China and other emerging markets without exhausting resources or destroying the planet. But it’s going to require massive collective will, of a type the US and others have been unwilling to contemplate up until now."

Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph, is one of Britain's leading business and economics commentators.


Evening Standard: "We need architects who understand this city"

Link to web site
"While modern architecture is often seen as the problem, you don't see people throwing street parties to celebrate the completion of the latest Prince Charles-inspired brick boxes, or the latest estate of executive suburban homes, either. A long time ago, the development industry lost the public's confidence. Think of St George Wharf in Vauxhall, one of London's ugliest buildings, or the overbearing blocks appearing now at Hale Village in Tottenham.

"It is not conservative taste that drives the public's scepticism, but the often negative transformation of the city into a place of monocultural housing blocks, with cheap supermarkets on the ground floors. These are not what London is made of."


Criticism of "LegoLand" Housing by Ministers

Link to The Guardian
"Previous housing ministers have railed against uniform design, largely driven by developers' lower costs. Ministers hope that the concept of neighbourhood plans, designed and voted on by communities themselves, might drive architects out of their complacency.

"Planning and Decentralisation minister, Greg Clark, joins Housing Minister Grant Shapps in condemning British household architecture, saying 'banal, identikit housing schemes have given development a bad name'."


The Guardian: "Air pollution in areas of heavy traffic shortens life expectancy"

Link above to The Guardian
"The high concentration of many fine particles, largely due to emissions from diesel engines and heating systems, knocks almost two years off the average life expectancy of residents of Bucharest, and six months off the life of Parisians."


'Barnet Eye' pulls off "PROHIBITED" videoing of council meeting

Further details about this video are in this first 'Barnet Eye' post.

Click above for second 'Barnet Eye' post

On the right is a second Barnet Eye post, regarding the end of that council meeting:


Following recording ban of 'Colindale Area Action Plan' decisions, is this openness at last?

Link to the web site
"Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said today:
"Local Government Minister Bob Neill has written to all councils, urging greater openness and calling on them to adopt a modern day approach, so that credible community or 'hyper-local' bloggers and online broadcasters get the same routine access to council meetings as the traditional accredited media have.

"The letter sent today reminds councils that local authority meetings are already open to the general public, which raises concerns about why in some cases bloggers and press have been barred."


Barnet Times: "Resident Nick Poullora takes parking fine campaign to Barnet Council"

Link to Barnet Times

"Angry Colindale residents are taking their fight against parking tickets to Barnet Council tonight, in a bid to get their money refunded:

"We've been parking like this for years, and it hasn't caused a problem – but now the council have targeted us to make money."


More on-site green jobs in Colindale?

Director of Planning quits control of Colindale - and everywhere else!

Job Details
Director for Planning, Environment and Regeneration
Location: Barnet, North London

Colindale and the Campaign for Clean Air in London

Link to The Guardian

"His frustrations with the Labour government over its failure to act has been compounded by the Tory-led coalition. He believes it attempted to 'mislead' the European Commission in September, on the scale of breaches on dangerous particles, known as PM10s."


The Economist: Secretary Of State Eric Pickles's 'Localism Agenda'?

Link to The Economist

"The lowest tier of government in London is its 32 borough councils, serving an average population of around 250,000. But activists are hoping to set up new representative bodies, at a much more local level."