A local politician has accused Barnet Council of handling a consultation on a development site “very badly” and called for the authority to undertake “real engagement”.
London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore wrote to the council with a range of concerns over the consultation on the supplementary planning document (SPD) that will guide the Hendon Hub scheme.
The proposed development is designed to provide 792 student homes and improved facilities in an area around the Middlesex University campus in The Burroughs, Hendon.
Mr Dismore said residents should be given more chance to have their say on the SPD consultation, which closed last month.
The Labour politician said: “I have been a strong supporter of Middlesex University for many years, but I think Barnet Council have handled the consultation very badly. They must give residents the chance to have their say in good time and undertake real engagement.”
Mr Dismore’s letter states that the consultation period on the SPD – a development framework for the area – had been “very short” and called for it to be extended to 12 weeks.
He added that online consultation events appeared to have been “poorly handled” and “conducted without sufficient resident participation”, with residents unable to contribute – in sessions that were described as “chaotic”.
And he raised concerns over allegations that data had been “handled poorly” and called for residents’ complaints to be investigated.
Responding to Mr Dismore, Barnet Council said the Hendon Hub consultation will close on May 21, which will be in line with the 12-week guidance set out by the Government.
The council added: “The SPD consultation ran for six weeks. This exceeded the statutory requirement of four weeks, which is set out in the Town and Country Planning Regulations. It is these regulations that govern the process for planning consultations, rather than Local Government Association guidance.
“The online sessions on the dates referred to were part of The Burroughs and Middlesex University SPD consultation rather than the Hendon Hub consultation.
“We held three online consultation sessions in total, which gave sufficient opportunity for people to take part. These were held on January 21, February 3 and February 17.
“These events were well attended, and participants provided valuable feedback. In addition to these events, residents and businesses had the opportunity to comment through a consultation questionnaire throughout the six-week period.
“We are aware of, and have investigated, an incident of email addresses being visible. This was investigated by our data protection team, and a number of immediate actions were recommended for the planning service.”
Mr Dismore has also put forward several recommendations for the scheme designed to “preserve Hendon’s heritage and green spaces”.
These include enhancing green spaces, protecting heritage assets and ensuring new buildings do not “ruin the historic aspect of The Burroughs”.
He added that he strongly objected to plans for the library, which is set to become a university business school under the Hendon Hub plans.
“The existing Hendon Library is over 100 years old, was the first children’s library and is an important local landmark, containing valuable services such as the archives,” Mr Dismore said. “It would not be suitable to house this in a portable cabin for any period of time.”
To find out how to have your say on the Hendon Hub proposals, visit: www.hendonhub.co.uk