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Interview: Tony Westbrook from Barnet Council

Wed 30th January 2013, 11:03 am

Sitematch London meets Tony Westbrook, head of regeneration at the London Borough of Barnet.

What is your role at the council? Your responsibilities and duties?

I am responsible for the team delivering Barnet’s major regeneration programme, which includes the major Brent Cross Cricklewood project, four housing estate regeneration schemes and two major development sites. The programme is due to deliver 28,000 new homes in the Borough by 2026; one of the largest programmes in London.

If an investor or developer is looking to develop sites in Barnet, what types of sites are available? What type of development is Barnet looking for?

Barnet has an ambitious growth agenda, backed up by a flexible planning policy that provides for parts of the borough to be protected, parts to be enhanced and other areas to be subject to controlled growth, such as the regeneration areas. We are also keen to focus commercial development in our four priority town centres: Edgeware, Chipping Barnet, Finchley Church End and North Finchley.

Why should an investor or developer invest in Barnet?

The population of Barnet is forecast to grow by 5.5 per cent over the next vive years. Barnet has good accesibility by road (the A1, M1, A41 and A406 all run through the borough), by rail (the Thameslink line is due to be upgraded in the next few years with longer trains and more frequent services and a direct interchange with Crossrail) and by tube (Barnet benefits from having 13 Northern Line stations).

What is Barnet doing to make the borough more attractive to investors/developers?

Barnet has proposed a competitive community infrastructyre levy (across all forms of development) of £135 per sq metre which is designed to attract development while the economy is recovering. Barnet's CIL is likely to be in place later in 2013 and it will help fund infrastructure to support new development projects. The borough has been successful in attracting Outer London and Portas Pilot Funding for four of its town centres.

Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? Are there any specific sites that will be marketed soon?

We have just marketed the next housing plot at Mill Hill East with our joint venture partners, and further plots will be coming to the market over the next few years as the scheme progresses. Development sites at Colindale will also continue to come to the market.

Could you give an update on the Colindale regeneration scheme, and its opportunities for developers?

The Colindale Action Area plan contemplates 10,000 new homes being built on a mixture of public and privately owned sites. St George, Fairview and Genesis/Countryside Properties are currently on site, and new sites become available on a regular basis. 

Could you give an update on the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration scheme, the opportunities for developers?

The scheme obtained outline planning consent in October 2010. Since then the council has been working closely with Hammerson UK Ltd and Standard Life (the joint owners of Brent Cross Shopping Centre) and Cricklewood Regeneration Ltd to agree a scheme delivery timetable and improve scheme viability so as to produce a truly world class shopping destination and a high quality new town centre together with all the infrastructure requirements. We are currently considering a number of different options for how to bring forward the road, rail and other infrastructure required for the scheme, but it is likely to involve a mix of private and public solutions. We expect to be able to report progress on this later this year.

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