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Neighbors oppose development plans in Mill Hill Greenbelt UK News

Neighbors are battling plans for new development on greenbelt land in Mill Hill which they fear will ‘change the character of the area’.

Marstead Living wants to build 175 units of “specialty senior housing” on a site on The Ridgeway that currently houses Watch Tower House and Kingdom Hall, which were once used by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Barnet’s council received nearly 200 objection letters during a consultation on the plans, which have yet to be reviewed by a planning committee. There were 27 supporting letters.

The proposed project, which is within the Mill Hill Conservation Area, would see existing buildings demolished to make way for ten blocks ranging from three to five storeys, plus a basement.

Elizabeth Silver, who lives there, said locals were “fed up with overdevelopment causing the piecemeal loss of the green belt and a total change in the character of the area”.

According to the developer’s proposals, the building’s footprint will increase by 18.4% and the volume will almost double compared to the existing structures if the project continues.

Times Series: Shown on the map, Kingdom Hall and Watch Tower House form the development site for The Ridgeway in Mill Hill.  Credit: Google MapsThe map shows Kingdom Hall and Watch Tower House which form the development site for The Ridgeway in Mill Hill. Credit: Google Maps

Ms Silver said mature trees would be felled and young trees planted elsewhere on the site would take “at least 20 years to provide cover”. She also raised concerns that plans to open the land next to the buildings to the public could see it used for “farmers’ markets, concerts and film screenings”, which she said , would result in “more noise and parking issues, and the loss of wildlife habitat”.

The developer pointed out that the total ‘built-up’ area would decrease by almost 15%, with paved areas to be removed as part of the scheme.

However, in its initial response to the plans, the Greater London Authority said the application ‘represents inappropriate development on the green belt and is currently unacceptable’. He added that a “comprehensive package of public benefits is needed to determine whether there are very specific circumstances” that would justify green belt development.

Other concerns raised by residents include the potential for traffic and parking issues in The Ridgeway, as well as a lack of GP supply. Ms Silver urged councilors to heed residents’ concerns about the scheme and to be ‘mindful of local sentiment if they seek re-election on May 5’.

Mark Alper, managing director of Marstead Living, said the developer was “incredibly proud” of the program and what he called its “tremendously respectful and thoughtful design”.

He eased parking concerns, saying there will be underground parking, and said the buildings will be protected by 175 more trees.

He added: “These proposals actually reduce the proportion of the site currently built by almost 15%. By reducing urban sprawl and returning more of the site to nature, this new specialist housing development will actually have a positive effect on the area’s biodiversity, with an 11% increase in habitat and 145% hedgerows, helping a wide variety of plants, animals and insects bloom.

“We’ve taken great care to listen to the community and be a good neighbor because we really want to be part of the future of Mill Hill, creating homes that people can enjoy in their final years without having to leave this wonderful region.”

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This notice was published: 2022-05-05 11:45:00

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