27 May 2014

After Office Hours (AOH)

Mr Mustard is grateful to the Barnet Residents Association for alerting him to the possible loss of the above building. If you live in High Barnet you really should join (it costs only a few pounds a year) so that you are alerted to potentially detrimental changes to the area. Look to the roof line of the building and you'll see why we need to keep it. If the mock front was to be removed (a bit of a pattern in High Barnet at the moment, removing frontages, with the battle still raging over the Swiss Chalet where it seems difficult to get the council's planning department to do what the Planning Inspector and the local populace requires, the immediate reinstatement of the frontage as it was before the wood cladding was added, and the out-of-keeping glass doors of Shoku which are in a conservation area at the Hadley end of the High St) this once lovely building could be lovely again.

Anyway, the following email landed in my inbox

Dear Member


A planning application has been lodged to demolish the former After Office Hours building at 70 High St and replace it with a modern edifice. You can see the application by going to the Council website; Planning Applications - B02129/14. You can post an objection online and we ask that you consider doing this please. We have found before that large numbers of objections can have a significant influence on applicants, the planners, and ultimately the Planning Inspectorate. But please note time is short - THE DEADLINE FOR OBJECTIONS IS 29 MAY

The documentation supporting the application is not very extensive and includes artists' impressions that seem to give a clear understanding of what the proposed façade will look like. You can post an objection as long or as short as you wish. Here are some points you might consider, but you need not include them all and we ask that you express your objection in your own words as far as possible:

(a) This building is located in a section of the Wood St conservation area that contains many historically significant buildings. Nos 52/54, 56, 58 and 66 are Statutorily Listed. Nos 50 and 60/62/64 are locally listed (the multiple numbers relate to a single building). Any development should be sensitive to this context as a starting point. This proposal ignores any such considerations. 

(b) Whilst some shop fronts have not been well treated, at first floor level and above the row of buildings from no 50 to no 72 is well preserved with features such as windows and chimneys surviving as outstanding features. Shop fronts can have sympathetic finishes put back at relatively low cost. The applicants assertion that the conservation area is so damaged that no 70 is not worth preserving is not justified.

(c) The roofline of no 70 forms a pleasing graduation from the low-roofed Bull to the south to the higher no 72 to the north. Raising the roof of no 70 to a height that matches no 72 would totally alter the appearance and character of this section of the High St, leaving the Bull looking oddly incongruous, being wedged between much higher buildings to each side. No 70 should be no higher than at present.

(d) The modern façade would not only clash with surrounding buildings, it would destroy the historic integrity of the entire row, detracting from the setting of the important Listed buildings.

(e) The replacement façade is poorly designed by trying to squeeze four floors into a space that is not high enough. The design has windows that bear no relation in shape and size to those in adjacent historic buildings, and the mansard roof evidently lacks any historical context.

(f) The existing pitched roof and surviving chimney are attractive features which complement the conservation area and should be retained.

(g) The existing façade below roof level is a modern replacement and rebuilding would be welcome. But a replacement should complement the conservation area, not clash with it.

(h) The applicant is seeking to justify demolition because of the poor state or repair of the building. But the large hole in the roof and removal of flashing are recent problems. The failure of the owner to exercise a duty of care in protecting the fabric of the building should not be justification for demolition.

(i) The proposal to construct accommodation for 15 students plus a shop on the ground floor is overdevelopment. There is no amenity space for the students and there is no access at the rear. 

Best regards

BRA Chairman

and Mr Mustard was just getting around to making an objection when he got another email telling him the application had been withdrawn.

It is too early to tell what attitude our planning officers (Capita) and local councillors (Longstaff, Perry & Prentice in case you have never heard of them) might have had but given the lax way in which the Swiss Chalet has been dealt with, the glass frontage that remains in what used to be the Crown & Anchor (closed 1999) and is now an office building with an unsympathetic amount of glass on the ground floor and hideous adverts on the upper floors Mr Mustard has no great confidence in officialdom. You only have to look at how development has rapidly progressed in the last 4 years all over the borough, the planned Brent Cross scheme and Church Farmhouse Museum to see that the council isn't that interested in old buildings.

So, rather than replying on the council and councillors, best join the Barnet Residents Association and/or the Barnet Society.

If you want to be notified by the council by email of each new planning application in your area, you can sign up here.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.