Labour group say they will oppose land sale to protect wood

By Julia Gregory in Politics

LABOUR politicians have announced they will oppose the sell off of a piece of woodland in north Finchley.

The move follows a report in last week’s Press highlighting the concerns of campaigners at the potential impact on the land off Holden Road if it is handed over to developers.

A planning application has just been submitted to demolish eight flats on Brookdene and replace them with 43 flats, complete with 47 car parking spaces and 74 bike spaces near the woodland.

Developers HSG Properties ( Brookdene Holden Road) Limited has also applied to lay a pathway through the woodland.

It has submitted a woodland management plan, which includes clearing brambles and putting up signs, bat and bird boxes.

The plan, prepared by ecologists for the developer said: “This management plan has been prepared to maximise the biodiversity value of this resource and ensure the long term survival of this section of woodland as a biodiversity asset.”

However Labour councillors on Barnet council have announced they will oppose the sell of the land known locally as Brookdene Nature Reserve when it is discussed at the assets, regeneration and growth committee (ARG) on Monday September 7.

they said a report before the committee last December did not acknowledge there was a well-established informal public access to the site, which is popular with dog walkers.

Labour’s ARG committee spokeswoman Pauline Coakley Webb said the land which is designated as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINC) should be open to the public, and not enclosed in a private garden.

She added: “We are willing to support granting a lease on some land on the eastern part of the site, adjacent to Brookdene on condition that all the MOL land, and preferably more, is retained by the council and that the capital receipt is used to improve the local area including providing access to the retained western part by means of a new footbridge over Dollis Brook from the grassed open space off Southover.”

The move would improve access alongside Dollis Brook, she said.

Labour is also calling for Barnet council to look at linking up the Dollis Valley Greenwalk through the retained land, a move which could involve using a small area of the Old Finchleians

A spokeswoman for the developers said: “A guarantee of public access to all of the woodland area is at the heart of our plans for the site. This is an

important green lung for the area – our aim is to preserve and enhance its habitats and make it a safe and

secure place that everyone can enjoy. ”

“We will uphold the covenant with the Council to make sure that the woodland stays untouched by

development; we understand the importance of protecting this area and making it accessible to all. It is a

shame that this open space, which is cherished by the local community, has become a focus for some antisocial behaviour and fly-tipping. This is a real opportunity to change that for the better.”

“At our public exhibition in July, we received some encouraging feedback from residents. We want to continue

to work with local people to make this a great scheme for the area and to make sure that it brings real benefits.

We remain committed to actively consulting with local people on our plans and welcome the opportunity to

provide reassurance about the future of the woodland.”

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