Venue: Be Bohun Primary School
Appointment of Chairman
RESOLVED that Councillor Steven act as chair for the duration of the Middlesex University Planning Panel.
- Purpose of the meeting – Stephen Tapper/Julian Jackson
- Introduction of Applicants’ representatives and Officers of the Council
(a) Purpose of the meeting
Julian Jackson, Head of Development Control, explained thatthe purpose of the meeting was not to determine the application, but was an opportunity to hear the views of local people, local interest groups and the applicants’ responses to public concerns regarding the planning application. The London Borough of Enfield’s (LBE) Planning Committee would make a decision on the application in due course.
The Chairman invited the applicants and their representatives and Officers of the Council to introduce themselves.
Richard Laws, Planning Officer, explained that the application covered a smaller footprint of land than the original application submitted by Middlesex University.
The full application consisted of four individual applications as detailed below:
(a) Application 1: Reference TP/05/1168
The application involved the construction of up to 24,700sq.m. of non-residential institution floor space, up to 10,000sq.m. of student residential accommodation (providing accommodation for up to 382 students), 250 car parking spaces, improved access and bus turn around facilities at the southern end of Snakes Lane involving the removal of the Lodge building, pedestrian crossing facility (Bramley Road), ancillary services, facilities, associated roads, paths and other infrastructure, together with associated landscape improvements;
(b) Application 2: Reference TP/05/1058
This was a detailed application (First Phase) for a New Learning Resource Centre with Academic Accommodation including a 200 seat lecture theatre and associated facilities, new 3-storey student residential building for 100 students with ancillary space, cycle and disabled facilities and associated plant and servicing, including new substation/chillers and refuse compound area, as well as new landscaping and surfacing works around both buildings.
(c) Application 3: Reference CAC/05/0003
The application was for Conservation Area Consent to demolish three buildings (Gubby, Bevan and a greenhouse).
(d) Application 4: Reference LBC/05/0013
The application was for Listed Building Consent for the demolition of the workshop at Trent Park Campus.
(e) Public concerns included the following main issues:
· Greenbelt issues
· Conservation/Listed Building/Historical and Design issues
· Traffic and Transportation
Richard emphasised that all planning issues would be taken into account when the Application was considered.
Presentation by the Applicant - Middlesex University
Professor Dennis Hardy, Geography Lecturer at Middlesex University, gave a verbal presentation on the applications.
(a) In the year 2000 Middlesex University launched a Development Strategy to consolidate the number of campuses in North London and to greatly improve the quality of those remaining. Trent Park had always been designated as a key campus;
(b) The general public feeling was that the University’s original application was overambitious and a letter was received against the application from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and so the University withdrew the application. The main issue that arose from consultation was that there was not enough dialogue with the local community.
Further consultation highlighted what would be acceptable to the community, including the following main five principles:
· The application should not go beyond the existing building footprint, although the University could move the footprint around the campus.
· The previous application had included a car park outside existing boundaries and this was not acceptable to the community.
· The height of buildings should not exceed a maximum height of four stories.
· The University should always allow full public access and the University should be integrated to become part of the park.
· The relocations of buildings should avoid any harm to ecological sites within the campus.
(c) The current application was submitted; taking into account the issues highlighted above and other criticisms. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, had approved the plans but there remained, however, an element of public opposition, although University representatives felt most of this opposition was not well founded.
(i) Green Belt Policy
Most concerns were regarding the Green Belt Policy, however, the University had adhered to Green Belt policy, which was governed by Planning Policy Guidance 2 (PPG2). PPG2 states that where there was an existing use as long as other constraints of Green belt Policy were met, it was acceptable for such a Higher Education Establishment to make these proposals. The Mayor of London had written a letter stating that the application was consistent with Green Belt Policy – this could be seen on the University’s Website (www.mdx.ac.uk).
(ii) Increase in numbers
There were concerns about the increase in numbers at the University. The University anticipated a 20% increase in student numbers but Professor Hardy emphasised that students’ did not attend the University between 9am and 5pm five days a week and therefore the increase in numbers would be difficult to notice.
Much of local opposition to the application was concerning traffic and congestion in the area. Professor Hardy emphasised that North London was highly congested and that the University should not be blamed;
The University was meeting Central and Local Government Policy to reduce traffic by stopping students from parking on site, with the exception of students with specific requirements. Last year and this year all First Year Students and all Second Year Students were banned respectively from parking on site. Next year would see Third Year Students stopped from parking on site;
English ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Questions by Panel Members
The following questions from members of the Panel followed:
Q1. Councillor Pearce was concerned that the increase in students was a great burden on overstretched medical services. What did the University plan to do about this?
A. Professor Hardy accepted that there was a problem with local medical services and University representatives had attended meetings with the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and were prepared to listen to any suggestions made by the PCT. One possibility was setting up a part time medical facility in the University.
Professor Hardy invited the Local Authority to provide conditions relating to the application with regard to medical services.
Q2. Councillor Giladi highlighted that the Sassoon family, who owned Trent Park, left it to the Community for the prime purpose of the enjoyment of the people of London. A 20% increase in students was an extra one fifth of students that were currently there.
Councillor Giladi was pleased with the conservation measures proposed but was not convinced that the increase in numbers would not have a noticeable effect and would not alter the character of the park or prevent it from being student dominated.
Councillor Giladi repeated Professor Hardy’s comment about the University being in the “heart of Enfield” and emphasised that it was in fact located at the very edge of the London Borough of Enfield. Councillor Giladi highlighted that residents in the Eastern corridor (who Councillor Giladi represented) of Enfield would not have an obvious footpath to higher education facilities. Whilst Councillor Giladi was in favour of providing access to higher education she felt the arguments in terms of access to enjoyment of the park were unconvincing.
A. Professor Hardy stated that strictly speaking the campus was actually in place before the park was. During the Second World War (WWII) Mansion House was used as an interrogation centre for German Army Officers. After the war the land became part of the Green Belt and Trent Park College decided to set up a training centre for officers who came out of the army and the university grew from there. The campus was only a small part of the total estate and the University had allowed and would continue to allow public access, which many developers would not allow.
Professor Hardy apologised for using the term “in the heart of Enfield” loosely and explained that it had emerged that students did not want diversity; they wanted one campus. Professor Hardy had worked at the Ponders End campus for twenty years and felt that it was not a suitable location and that public transport to and from the area was poor. The plan had always been to close the Ponders End campus and there was a need to have larger units. The number 121 bus would take students from Eastern Enfield to Trent Park. Professor Hardy emphasised that students were prepared to make quite long journeys for higher education.
The Chairman stated that he lived in Ponders End, which had two railways and a bus garage. ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Questions by Ward Councillors and MPs
Q1. Councillor Paul McCannah (Cockfosters Ward) asked:
(a) Why the University felt it would be more suitable to build in a Green Belt location when there were already problems with parking and congestion?
(b) Why did the University pretend that the increase in students would have not effect on the surrounding roads and parking?
A. Profession Hardy explained that:
(a) The applications would put life back in to the park and people wanted a park that was visually pleasing;
(b) A large factor for choosing Trent Park was because the Piccadilly Line was nearby. Students would not be deterred from using public transport as there would be an increased shuttle-bus service – the University have had to consider “Green Travel” and sustainability.
Q2. Councillor McCannah asked how the University would encourage the use of public transport, given that it had scored very low in the GLA’s Transport for London analysis of accessibility to public transport.
A. Professor Hardy stated that the University provided frequent shuttle-buses, which would overcome concerns about the length of Snakes Lane, the University had also responded to requests for more cycling facilities and many students were still happy to walk from Oakwood to the campus.
Open session - questions/views from the floor
NOTED that residents sent advance questions in to the Council’s Planning Department prior to the Planning Panel.
The following includes all questions received by the Local Authority with regards to the Middlesex University, even though they were not all mentioned at the meeting. Some questions do not have individual answers but are grouped together with a general answer below.
(a) Traffic and Transportation
Q1. Mrs Borthwick of Westpole Avenue, a member of Trent Park Running Club whose members used the park for training during the week and weekends was concerned about the changing nature of the park. Also,as a resident of Westpole Avenue she felt that there would be increased heavy traffic on the road as the builders lorries and other heavy vehicles took short cuts from the main road.
Q2. Mrs Kerron of Westpole Avenue asked what was going to be done to relieve the increased traffic this development would cause, bearing in mind the awful hold-ups now at the junction of Chase Road and Bramley Road nearly all day, where lights were so badly phased?
Q3. Mr and Mrs Diercicx of Lonsdale Drive asked what consideration had been given to improving the traffic flow of regular, non-University traffic along Bramley Road? At present the provision of pedestrian lights and the recent box junction, which caused long queues to build up along the main road, adversely affected the main road. The present priorities for traffic appear to be biased towards University access. Mr and Mrs Diercicx also wanted to know if any option had been considered to retaining the lodge building and routing the proposed turning facilities around the lodge (and not through it)?
Q4. Mr and Mrs Earle of Bramley Road were concerned about the number of vehicles in the area. Bramley Road was already top heavy, especially with the traffic lights at the junction of Bramley Road and Chase Rd and, with the influx of so many people what would happen with regard to doctors and hospitals who were already overbooked as well as there being talk of closing A&E at Chase Farm?
Q5. Mr and Mrs Goodkind of Bournwell Close were also concerned about the influx of traffic and parking.
Q6. Mr and Mrs Rabin of Prince George Avenue were concerned about the provision for traffic at junction of Snakes Lane/Bramley Rd/Enfield Rd also effect on traffic flow etc at entrance on Cockfosters Road.
Q7. Dr and Mrs Silk of Sussex Way had concerns over the lack of parking facilities the overflow into the car park at the Hockey Centre/Sports Field Park. Mrs Silk emphasised that there were a number of Schools in the area, which already contributed to a large amount of the congestion. Dr and Mrs Silk were also concerned over how many phases the University envisaged TP05/1058 is marked phase 1.
Q8. Mrs Davis of Belgrave Gardens asked what responsibility the University took of the students in rented accommodation in the area i.e. the mess, the all night parties, the drugs and ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Close of meeting
The Chairman thanked Councillors, Officers, the Applicants and Members of the Public for their input at the meeting and reiterated that a decision had not been reached regarding this application and it would be brought to the Planning Committee in the near future.