10:45am Thursday 8th March 2012
By David Hardiman
A controversial bid to build 250 houses and flats on a former university site in Cockfosters was unanimously refused last night.
Enfield Council’s planning committee turned down the planning application by housing association L&Q, to build the development on the former Middlesex University site in Cat Hill, in front of hundreds of campaigners at a specially arranged meeting.
Councillors cited concerns about wildlife about harming a protected species of newt and the lack of funding for highway improvements nearby, and officers admitted that the development would have more effect on Barnet residents than those living in Enfield.
Campaigners from Barnet opposed to the development have long argued that they had not been given a chance to have their say on the issue.
Leader of the Campaign for Cat Hill, Kim Coleman, said: “Enfield’s housing strategy outlines as its priority ‘to regenerate neighbourhoods and improve the quality of life for local people’.
“Cockfosters does not need regeneration, and if this application is granted Cockfosters will change beyond recognition – and not for the better – and the quality of life currently enjoyed by the 4,000 residents I speak on behalf of will be irreparably damaged.”
Dr Coleman told the meeting at Ashmole Academy in Cecil Road that the scheme had “little relationship” to nearby properties, and was “architecturally bland and uninteresting”.
The developer had reduced the number of homes proposed from 272 to 250 in response to concerns, with flats near the border and near ponds where the great crested newt species is found removed from plans.
The dispute over the land has rumbled on since October, when a farcical planning meeting at De Bohun School in Green Road was abandoned when more than 100 people were left outside the 140-capacity second-floor school hall for a debate over the plan.
Opponents of the plan held a 67-hour vigil outside the site in November, and have won the support of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes and Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers.
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