Thursday 4 August 2016

Dancing with the park: the story of the Lodge, continued

Summertime, in Broken Barnet, is the most dangerous season of the year. 

While Parliament is in recess, and council business slows down, our lucky Tory councillors pack their suitcases, and head off for their holiday homes in the Auvergne, or a lovely beach somewhere, or sit in their back gardens sipping Pimms and happily ignoring the emails from constituents clogging up their in boxes, while naughty senior officers take the opportunity to approve all sorts of decisions that might otherwise meet with some sort of token resistance from our elected representatives. 

Some might be policy decisions - remember 'We have decided on a Joint Venture', for example? Or other 'sensitive' and risky issues might be slipped through, while no one is looking.

Planning applications, and their  'consultations', for example. 

Planning applications, consultations and decisions, specifically, that involve a plot to demolish an Edwardian Park Keeper's Lodge, and allow a developer to build a block of eight flats, right there, within the footprint of Victoria Park, in Finchley, neatly setting a precedent for the development of all our other parks and open spaces.

Hard luck, friends in planning: Mrs Angry has not packed her suitcase yet, but is on your case instead. Read on.

The story continues, from the last post.

An application to knock down the lovely Lodge building, and replace it with flats, has now been submitted by a company of architects - Tal Arc - who are apparently only the agents for this proposal, for a company called The Lodge Victoria Park Ltd, formed on March 10th this year, and whose director is a Mr Adi Friedman, who has a number of other companies listed, as you may note.

The application is dated the 8th July, yet Mrs Angry understands from a reliable source that the favoured handful of residents who have been, behind closed doors, consulted over the development by the council have had access to these plans since June, well before the application was submitted. 

This is in direct defiance of the principles of transparency, and equality of access to meaningful consultation with the authority. 

This small and unaccountable group of residents, however well meaning, are not a formally constituted group, are not representative of the wider community and the majority of park users, (been guests at the House of Commons, mind you, courtesy of Tory MP Mike Freer) - and are clearly being used to endorse a council process, rather than the future of the park being decided by a wide ranging and open engagement with residents. Mrs Angry has twice asked about these meetings, and if they are minuted, and has not been given a reply. Never mind: Freedom of Information requests from the council have been submitted instead.

There is a collection of documents now online for the consultation process, in which residents are able to make objection to these plans. Please have a look, and register your views. Be prepared for a shock: the designs are breathtakingly awful - a choice of two eyewatering options:

View of the proposed flats, from inside the Park

View of the proposed flats, from Long Lane, same angle as photo below, with the post box -that couple are loved up, aren't they? Suppose we are meant to think they are dreaming of their future together, on one of those balconies, acting as park keepers (no, really - read on). Hard to tell this is the site of the Lodge, as nothing remains but three trees.

(It should be noted , by the way, that the application is continually 'unavailable' - apparently a common occurrence with planning applications that receive a lot of attention. And yes, the website is the responsibility of Capita too. Any prolonged viewing may time out, and block your access, requiring you to log out and in again, once you have worked out what is wrong. Some people may not realise this and not bother to try again. During a limited period of consultation, this habitual failure clearly will have an impact on access for residents, and is frankly unacceptable, yet exactly what we must expect from our contractual partners, unfortunately).

It appears that the case officer dealing with the application was consulted by the applicants as far back as February of this year. 

Planning in Barnet, of course, is now run by Capita, who have a particularly tangled variety of roles in overseeing the application process: dealing with applicants, objectors, and advising on the decision itself. 

A matter of concern in regard to this application is that although the agent admits advice was given by a Barnet/Capita officer - ticking the box that asks:

Has assistance or prior advice been sought from the local authority about this application?

- details of the pre-application advice received are supposed to be given, but there is a blank space in the box for the information. 

How odd.

This is clearly in conflict with the principles of transparency, and should not be tolerated.

Of course the advice might have been: go home and have a cold shower, and rethink the whole thing, chum, because this'll never get approved. But we simply don't know.

Before we look further at the planning application itself, let us examine the identity of the developers behind these terrible proposals.

A couple of weeks ago, Mrs Angry went along to the council offices at North London Business Park, in order to exercise the annual right of all residents to inspect the authority's accounts, and to look at the details of the sale of the Lodge.

The Lodge was sold by contract, on the 30th March, for a cash sale of £623,000. That was the first surprise. You might find a house for sale in this area for that amount, but it would be small, and not in one of the nicer roads near the park. Let alone IN the park, of course. 

And for a site that was clearly being bought for development, such a price seems remarkably low, and not the best value use of a publicly owned property. 

But then of course, this is not so much an exercise, any more, in profit, as a disposal of something that has become an almighty problem, and entirely due to the council's own greed, and failure to check the status of the property they thought they could quickly flog for a nice fat capital gain. But more of that later.

The Lodge was sold not to the company known as the "Lodge Victoria Park Ltd', but to an individual, a Mr Nathan Gruber, who gives an address in Hendon, but is remarkably hard to track down. His connection to the Lodge is unknown: the only officers listed for the Lodge company are Mr Friedman and his wife. 

The address given for Mr Gruber, according to Land Registry records, is owned by a couple named Spiro and Enerita Novruzaj: Spiro Novruzaj, Mrs Angry understands, is an associate of Mr Friedman, and a builder. Mrs Novruzaj is the only name listed on the Electoral Roll for the address given by Mr Gruber. 

There may of course be a perfectly reasonable explanation for all this, and Mrs Angry will be happy to update the story if such further information comes to light.

Barnet Council has had HSE issues with Mr Novruzaj, as you can see here.

And Mr Friedman would appear to have had quite a lot of interaction with the planning department of Barnet Council. 

(All of this information, incidentally, is in the public domain, from published online records. Mrs Angry has withheld some addresses, through choice, but the evidence is available should you wish to check).

One of Mr Friedman's companies, CDEG, has been involved, for example, along with the same architects, with the development of a property in Vivian Avenue, Hendon. There are no less than seventy nine comments submitted by residents on that particular case, many of which make for interesting reading.

Rather oddly, one random comment clicked on turned out to be a heartwarming commendation for the development, from someone ... oh, listed at the same address as the Friedmans? Mr Spiro Novruzaj ... Is that right? Perhaps he is their lodger.

I want to praise the applicant on taking aboard the neighbours comments and
recommendations and reducing the amount of flats from 9 flats to 7 and also reducing the roof volume in order the accommodate the neighbours wishes ,I support the application and can't wait to see the new and welcome addition to the road.

There is another person of that name at Mr Gruber's address, who really likes the proposal, funnily enough. And another Mr Novruzaj, Virgjil  - but at another address in Watford Way. 

Oh, and here is another one supporting the application from ... a Mrs Friedman. Same address in Mill Hill. She likes the plans too. And another Friedman, same address, and name, funnily enough again, as someone at '6 Hendon' who is awfully keen, and says: MORE HOUSING ...BRILLIANT. 

Quite a lot of similarly gushing comments, many anonymous, saying equally favourable things. Quite a lot saying the same thing, in CAPITAL LETTERS. No need to shout.

But then again, one typical objector is unimpressed, and says:

I'm highly concerned about the impact this application would have on an already

saturated street accommodation-wise. I also find the vague comments supporting this application suspicious as anyone with a vested interest in Vivian Avenue would normally oppose such an encroaching multiple occupancy application. 

And another comment:

I hope the planning committee can see the difference in the quality of arguments that

object and support the planning proposals. It is very obvious to those that have a valid interest in objecting proposals because they are simply an ugly, invasive, and inconsiderate to the residents and neighbourhood.

The address in Mill Hill given for the developers themselves, a house built after demolition of a previous property, has also been the source of some contention, including an enforcement issue regarding a swimming pool

Returning to the application submitted by Tal Arc, on behalf of Mr Friedman's company, then: what do we find?

Let's go straight to the Area Analysis, the first of two, which has three maps marking examples the applicants think support their application on the grounds of similar building height, flat roofs, and 'the principle of flats'.

Similar building height: mmm. The only example visible in the area they can find is the local church, St Paul's, a Victorian building (celebrating its centenary in 1986, with attendance by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Margaret Thatcher, and former parishioner Cliff Richard - unmissable event, one imagines ...) The height of the church, now minus its steeple - possibly similar, not much else in common with the monstrosity the developers want to stick in the park across the road, sadly.

Looking around manically for other examples, they can only come up with the Pentland Centre, which is a commercial office building, streets away,  and not in the vicinity of the park: as the crow flies it is probably about half a mile away - Mrs Angry asked this crow, sitting rather sulkily on the back fence of the Lodge, the other day, a fence only erected because she protested the council appeared to be leaving the building unsecured ...

The crow wasn't sure about the distance, but he was pretty damn furious about the pending destruction of the Lodge, and most of the shelter offered by the trees and shrubbery in its grounds.

Back to the documents: flat roofs. Any in the area? Nope, not visible. Again the Pentland Centre, and again, including a very small and discreet block of flats that is adjacent to one of the park boundaries - but is completely hidden from the park by trees.

Third category, 'the principle of flats' ... the applicants have drawn and coloured in a blue circle around the park which includes everything except ... the park, which takes up about a quarter of the radius. That would be, you see, because no one has yet been allowed to build a block of flats in a park. Not sure why, are you? Spoil-sporting, red tape wielding bureaucrats standing in the way of profit ...

Next up, second Area Analysis. This is a cracker. Most amusing. The examples given really are desperate. Oh look: the church again, and tssk, an extension, which actually is very well done, in sympathy with the church, and indeed includes gabled details similar to the Lodge they want to destroy.

'A pair of semis', on the other side of Long Lane, is in fact one house next to a small block of flats which was built in the fifties or sixties, when planning restrictions were less acute, and which anyway is neatly hidden by a mature silver birch tree, and, even better, a lovely ancient hawthorn hedge, which is probably the remainder of an old field boundary.

None of the examples, apart from the red brick, modest block hidden behind mature trees, is anywhere near the park, let alone within the sight of the park's outline.

And all are utterly irrelevant, because there is nothing to compare with the ghastly proposal under consideration, as of course there is NO building in the park, or anything that could possibly be comparable.

The developers explain their random selection:

"Analysis of the local area in terms of building design, architectural style,
materials, building lines, heights and uses shows some variety that would
justify an appropriate "local context". Although the predominant style would
be suburban Victorian, there are too many exceptions to this to rule out a
precendent for a unique development. (sic)

As shown in the diagrams, our proposal is in keeping with a lot of the
important characteristics of the area, such as land use, height, building line
etc. Within these constraints, which we adhered to in the design process,
the architectural style and design is reflecting its unique stand-alone position
where a typical terraced-style development would be very inappropriate."

Erm, no: your proposal is blatantly NOT in keeping with a lot of the important characteristics of the area.

You do admit the predominant style is 'suburban Victorian' (although in fact much of it is Edwardian) and one would have to be a total idiot to think that the hideous, crashingly anachronistic design - either option - would be anything other than a monstrous blot on the landscape of an Edwardian park, let alone the fact that its construction will have robbed the park of its historic lodge.

That 'unique stand-alone' position is a publicly owned open space, and you have no right to build there, let alone erect such an unnecessary, ugly property - most amusing to see you think a 'typical terraced-style development would be very inappropriate', but not a glaringly 21st century, violently unsympathetic, not to say tasteless, design like this ...

The block plans show clearly how huge the proposed new building will be, compared to the Lodge they want to destroy. Apart from the inappropriate style, the scale of the proposal is wildly out of proportion, and a huge expansion, that will have to be squeezed into this small and sensitive site.

And what these plans do not show is that the flats, and several balconies, will directly and closely overlook a children's playground, nearest to the part where there is a large slide for young children. This raises all sorts of safeguarding issues - and again, we must emphasise this is hardly surprising, as building within the footprint of a park is unheard of, for obvious reasons, so the right of young children to be able to play freely and safely within a publicly owned open space, unwatched by anonymous adults, rarely becomes a problem.

Next document: the Proposed Site/Ground Floor. You will see from this drawing details of the underground car park - yes, really - which on a site of this nature, and scale, is simply preposterous, but necessary from the developer's point of view because there is of course no space for parking the dozen or so cars they are allowing for the residents of the proposed block of flats. You will also see the entrance is right on to Long Lane, where the footpath is quite narrow, in a place next to the entrance to the Park, by a crossing point, and near the junction with Park View Road.

This junction and this crossing, is already a dangerous spot. There are many accidents here caused by cars crossing Long Lane from Park View, or Oakfield Road, or simply speeding down Long Lane.

As this is one of the main gates to the Park, there are often many excitable young children rushing towards the entrance, and vulnerable to accidents - one six year old daughter of a mother at my children's school was knocked down at this crossing and sustained a badly broken leg. Another acquaintance, a mother of five, was knocked down at the phone box by the junction as a result of a car swerving to avoid a collision at the junction - again, another broken leg, and a baby in a buggy overturned, and lucky to escape without serious harm.

Imagine the risk to children and other pedestrians from cars being able to access and exit the proposed flats at this location - it simply is not safe.

Let's look at the entertaining 'Sustainability Appraisal'. Apart from a lot of padding, which clearly does not apply to this proposal, and an obsession with carbon dioxide, this statement neatly tiptoes around the obvious joke: that these plans represent the worst sort of assault on a green space that could possibly be imagined, not mitigated in terms of sustainability measures proposed for the ghastly flats, but created by its very existence.

Oh, hang on: here we have a nod to 'Ecology'. Gird up your loins.

"The developers’ sustainability objective is to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of
the region by conserving and enhancing areas valued for their diversity of wildlife,
habitats, and landscape value". 

Hmm. Conserving and enhancing the biodiversity, and the landscape value, by demolishing the built heritage and mature planting represented by the Lodge and its garden, and erecting a repulsive modern structure in its place, with room for 12 polluting cars.

Oh, hang on, again: there will be a green roof. I take it all back.

My friend the crow will enjoy that, anyway, even if no one else will see it. And not all the trees will be cut down, because the developer has graciously indicated he may follow the principle of “right place, right tree”.

Mrs Angry's friend, the Park Lodge crow - and yes, she does wander about the place talking to random crows, and, yes, frankly, her children are quite worried about her - has asked her if any formal assessment of the ecological impact of this development has been made, and do you know, I don't think it has. He was a bit pissed off, when he found that out, tbh. Still. Early days, Mr Crow: early days.

And now - Mrs Angry's favourite bit. Design and Access:

Here the breathless agent for the developers tells us that this is a 'very unique site'. Lol.

Not just unique, see: very unique.

And that is why they must be allowed to come along and make it even more unique, but ... in a very bad way: by creating an abominable eyesore in a beautiful park. To be fair, that is ... more than very unique. It is unprecedented. Hats off.

And then:

"The site was originally occupied by the park keeper’s lodge, and although it is an intrinsic
part of the park, it has always been a separate entity with clear distinct boundaries.
Throughout Victoria Park’s history, the site in question has never been accessible to the
public; it was always intended for private residential use. The site has always had tall
railings and hedges around its entire perimeter to physically separate it from the public
realm of the park. "

Erm. No, in fact clearly you know nothing about the history of Victoria Park.

There was access from the Park to the Lodge, for gardeners to use the tool shed. Even if there were always some hedging, it is tall now because the trees and bushes have matured. Until Mrs Angry came along and insisted the council secure the property once our asset stripping council had evicted the family who lived there, there was no fencing, and anyway, the house and garden fit naturally into the Park, being part of the original layout.

"However it has been vacant and derelict for years, falling into a bad state of disrepair. It is worth mentioning that the park keeper’s lodge is not a Listed Building and it lacks any
architectural merit". 

Well, it has only been vacant because the council evicted the tenants, aiming to flog the property off to the highest bidder and make a big fat capital profit but - oh dear, they then found themselves unable to sell when they realised, too late, that the Park was protected by covenants.

Mmm. Who allowed it to fall into disrepair, and why?

Why were councillors told that it would cost £100,000 to bring the Lodge to a satisfactory standard of accommodation, when the new owners have already put it up for rental with nothing like that spent on it, and where is the report Mrs Angry asked for as part of the audit trail that would prove councillors had not been misled into thinking the Lodge was unviable as a rented property? Does it not exist? That would be very naughty, wouldn't it, readers?

And now: the lodge is not a Listed Building, and lacks any architectural merit.

Not listed, true: but it is well nigh impossible to get anything listed these days, and I'm not sure if anyone tried.

But of no architectural value?

Says who?

In fact that is not true at all. It is a charming example of Edwardian, Arts & Crafts style architecture, and there may not be many other examples of similar park buildings of this period.

But anyway, why, if there is no architectural merit, two nights after the Residents Forum where the issue was discussed so furiously by residents, did some unknown person go to the extent of climbing up a ladder, and smashing off the decorative terracotta finials from the roof, as well as, in frankly a petty and utterly unnecessary act, saw the period style chimney in half?

We continue.

"The plot is unlike any other site, sitting on the edge of a large suburban park. There is no
rhythm or suburban residential pattern adjoining the site. In fact, the existing park keeper’s lodge is a very different type of dwelling compared to the predominant semi-detached and terraced houses in the streets surrounding the park". 

Unlike any other site. Very unique, in fact. But tut tut: no rhythm or suburban residential pattern adjoining the site. Eh? What the f*ck does that mean? No 'rhythm'? Well, there is nothing at all adjoining the site, in fact, rhythmic or not, because - it is in a public park!

A very different type of dwelling ... well, yes, so is the church, and - now fly like a crow to the Pentland Centre, both of which you refer to in defence of your horrible design. But the overall characteristic of this part of Finchley is perfectly in sympathy with both the Park, and the Lodge. In Finchley, if you bothered to look around, you will see other examples of such Edwardian architecture. Manorside School, for example, which you conveniently overlook, although closer than the Pentland Centre - Edwardian, again. The streets right across from the Park, near the Church, are full of particularly beautiful houses of this period - including the road where our MP lives: funnily enough, no reference is made to this area.

There is nothing like the designs in these proposals - and for good reason. They would be utterly unacceptable within the context of this area, and the predominant houses to which you refer.

Ok. Fair warning: stand by for the best bit. The Design Process:

"Being surrounded on three sides by the park, this site presented a very particular
opportunity for us as designers: our proposal would need to “dance” with the park, being
both its partner and protector; it would act as a stand-alone gate to the park, while
providing a sense of identity to it; and it should contribute to the typical relaxing
environment of the park while still presenting an inviting front elevation to Long Lane." 

Yes. This ghastly thing, this assault on the aesthetic senses, their design, must 'dance' with the park.

The dance of death, perhaps: a tango over the edge of reason.

God help me. And they say it will be both 'partner, and protector'? In the way of all abusive relationships, that might be true, from the point of view of the one with his hand on your throat. While dancing you over that edge.

A stand-alone gate to the park? Suppose there will be an admission fee, soon enough - or:

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here, sort of thing, over the gate?

Enough. Oh, but there is more, Mrs Angry - there is more ...

"As designers, we have a duty and a responsibility on this occasion to try to contribute to the overall well-being of the park, for the mutual benefit of it and the proposed development. From our point of view, and due to the increase of population and risks this involves, every resident of the building will unofficially act as a park keeper".

Isn't that lovely?

Mummy, who is that man on that balcony watching me through his binoculars?

It's alright, darling, it's just one of the new park keepers ...

The developers not only had discussions with and advice from Mr Linford (which they have forgotten to tell us about in the application) they went to see another senior officer, Mrs Sawyer, who mentioned the fact that there have been rapes in and near the park:

"Mrs Sawyer also highlighted the serious issues of vandalism and serious crimes including cases of rape affecting Victoria Park, mainly during night time. She was of the opinion that the constant presence of residents in the proposed flats will help reduce this problem."

Yes. I imagine that will help. It doesn't matter that recently, when Labour councillor Devra Kay referred to the latest incident of rape, just across the road from the Lodge, and asked the council to consider improving the low level of lighting which results from their cost cutting budget, they dismissed her concerns. The new park keepers will keep us safe.

That is the last, most ironic feature of this tawdry business: the annexation of the issue of rape, co-opted to make the case for the commercial development of a park. Yes: this is Broken Barnet, in case any of us have forgotten.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the thought of a proper park keeper, living in the Park Keeper's Lodge, chasing local children on their bikes and looking after the grounds, as his job, like 'Treaclefeet', or Thomas Smith: see below, and in the previous post.

If this development is allowed, please don't think that will be the end of the assault on Victoria Park. There are already plans for further developments. Certain parties have their eye on the council's buildings near the Ballards Lane entrance, and there is a plan to create a car park by the bowling green, and possibly on the new croquet lawn. Another rumour talks about houses on the Long Lane side.

Mrs Angry was invited to visit the Bowling Club (hasn't joined yet, due to a shortage of pleated skirts, and sensible shoes) and met the very charming members, and their Chair, and heard about their deep concerns about these awful proposals.

Sylvia and Gary, members of Victoria Park Bowling Club

The new car park, we understand, will be funded by the inconveniently ringfenced money raised by the sale of the Lodge. Now this is rather questionable, apart from the awful idea of carving up the park: that money according to the covenant, can only be used for the 'benefit' of the Park. Yet it is proposed it should be used to create a car park that will produce income for the council! And they have let slip that it is likely to be used by the residents of the proposed development of flats in the former Police Station.

Also of interest, by the way, is the fact that it is believed some of the money from the Lodge sale has been kept back by the council for 'legal fees'. Let's hope that is not true.

But there is another aspect of this saga that has been overlooked. And that is the story of those covenants set in place by Inky Stephens, and Henry Brooks, and all the other canny local dignitaries who, moulded as they were, in the golden age of philanthropy, and civic pride, worried about the future of Victoria Park, and tried their best to protect it and preserve it for generations to come.

Barnet Council sold the Park Keeper's Lodge after so many years, after taking advice which they hoped supported their actions - but it is clear that a definitive view of the interpretation of the covenant has not been achieved. And a careful reading of the documents - and yes, Mrs Angry has read them - suggests that even if the site may be sold, and that is at the very least questionable,  any other building that is not a Lodge, or a cricket pavilion, may not be built.

As a certain officer suggested - the developers who bought the Lodge may have acquired a 'white elephant', and find themselves unable to exploit the commercial value that they thought the site contained.

It may also be that the sale itself is open to challenge.

It is the responsibility of the council now to make sure these plans are rejected - and that the building is protected from demolition - and it must be made absolutely clear that any unpermitted demolition will not be tolerated.

There is every reason to retain this historic property, and use it as intended, for the benefit of the park users: it would make a perfect cafe, for example, like the stables at Avenue House. But as a site for potential development, with or without the Lodge, there is no future at all.

If you want to see this awful proposal rejected, and protect Victoria Park from the threat of developments, please, please, object now, via the council's website, or in writing.

Rather curiously, the notice advising local residents about these plans only seems to have appeared on Monday - and look at where it has been placed: wrapped round a parking notice pole, as far away as possible from the Lodge itself, despite there being a lamp post adjacent to the property, and others between there and this spot. Call that consultation? I don't.

Barnet Tories have been trying for years to persuade residents that the commercialisation of our parks and open spaces is acceptable. At least two consultations on this theme have been roundly thrown out, so now the threat comes on a one to one basis, starting with this 'Premier Park', here in Finchley. If this is permitted, every park, and every green space, every publicly owned open space will be up for grabs. It's up to you now, to prevent this.

Here is the link to the documents, and where you can make objections to the proposals:

You can also follow @victoriaparkfi1 or updates on this story.


Mrs Crazy said...

Please send this piece to Mr Linford asjavascript:void(0) formal objection comments to the Lodge application!

Sale of the Lodge and now its proposed development - it is just adding insult to injury and the 'death dance' must be stopped.

The many threads of this one application all lead to one conclusion - transparency is not standard practice here in Barnet.

There are hidden agendas, secret connections and questionable deals.
We are swirling around in an endless faecal maelstrom Broken Barnet.

The ordinary man, woman and crow in Barnet deserve better.

Shame on you, Barnet planners, if you recommend this application for approval.

Especially when you know from your own records that the developers are not the best at keeping their other developments free from contentious issues.

Very well done Mrs Angry.

Mrs Angry said...

Thank you for your comments, Mrs Crazy. Do you know, I am really very envious of your deployment of the term 'faecal maelstrom', as a metaphor for the corporate life of Broken Barnet. It is a perfect description, and I wish I had thought of it first.

Mrs Angry said...

PS: Perfect description - and yet, very unique.

Mrs Crazy said...

But you have thought of everything in this piece!! It is painfully and incisively accurate on how the residents of Barnet have been pushed around and shoved aside in matters that affect their way of life for generations to come by the corporate powers that are meant to represent and protect us.

PS. I was being very uniquely polite...I didn't know if your comments section would accept SH*TSTORM.

Mrs Angry said...

I pride myself on the careful choice and varied assortment of foul language, in this blog. I was educated by nuns, you know - I can't help myself.

Unknown said...

Dear Mrs Angry - you've eloquently echoed the words and thoughts of everyone. Let there be no doubt this Planning Application via Tal Arc on behalf of Messrs: Friedman/Gruber is hugely provocative and its acceptance by Barnet Planning will not be tolerated. Let the Applicants read into that what they will. I reiterate your point - that The Lodge/site remains (without question) inside the Park Boundary. How dare the applicant suggest otherwise? The current railing was put in place in the early 60's (when traffic increased) simply to stop children running into the road. Anyhow as you mentioned, Messrs: Friedman/Gruber/Tal Arc are currently trying to override the Restrictive Covenant on The Lodge by trying to implement 'a change of usage' ie: putting The Lodge up for short term private rent. However everyone in the community will do all we can to stop this folly, irrespective. The very concept of erecting a 3 storey monstrosity inside the perimeter of a public park is so off the wall its laughable. Do these guys really think park users will tolerate an ugly edifice dumped in their space, loss of their privacy, and the loss of uninterrupted views over the Park, bequeathed to the people of Finchley over 125 years ago for their own greedy financial advantage??
Lovely Laura

Mrs Angry said...

Yes, Laura: frankly it is impossible to understand why anyone would think it acceptable to put this building in any Edwardian/Victorian suburban context - but to think they can get away with shoving it slap bang in the outline of a public park is simply incredible. They don't seem to realise that it is not even the ugly design which is offensive, it is the very idea of using part of a publicly owned park for commercial development that is the issue. But then I doubt they care. As for Barnet/Capita, I think it is clear that they were desperate to offload what should never been up for sale in the first place, and have blundered badly.

I think it is probable that the sale of the Lodge is itself highly questionable in terms of the covenant, at the very least, and sold knowing that that covenant probably restricts future developments. If I were Mr Friedman, I would either ask for my money back - or rather Mr Gruber - and I would suggest the council uses the building as a cafe or similar amenity for park users, in a way that meets the intention of the covenant, created on behalf of the people of Finchley. The council may think it had the legal right to dispose of part of Victoria Park - I don't - it most certainly did not have the moral right to do so. Morality, of course, and integrity, are values in short supply in Broken Barnet.

Mrs Angry said...

It has been pointed out to me by several people that by some extraordinary chance, the few oddly enthusiastic comments in support of this application have been anonymised. So we cannot check for multiple entries, for example, or the identity of these cheery commenters.

Anonymous said...

This comment has appeared today:


This seems to bear some resemblance to those comments on the Vivian Way application - vague, capitalised and clearly not written by someone who knows the park or the lodge.

Keep up the fight!


Mrs Angry said...


Do try a bit harder, friends.

Not awfully sure many people will see this blot on the landscape as 'a nice touch to the neighbourhood', but Mrs Angry wholeheartedly agrees that we certainly do not want to see DRUG USERS OR OTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, here in the earthly paradise that is BROKEN BARNET.

Tim said...

And of course the commenter is displaying complete ignorance of the local area. Everyone who lives here know that the drug dealers operate on Park View Road rather than actually in the park or in the lodge grounds.