A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green
Went through all the different forum threads on this site tonight and the common theme is the exact same worry as the one troubling us day in day out as Bowes councillors: too much development in an already densely populated area.
Spiralling demographic growth in London, the UK and the world was always bound to have an effect locally - Enfield's population was 293k in the 2001 census, in the wake of this wrongheaded Government's housing benefits cap, we're now at 320k and rising! The new people are already here....
I'm always arguing that the burdens of this growth should be distributed more fairly. For instance, by leaving us alone in Bowes and Bounds and spreading things around, i.e. building more in affluent and sparsely occupied neighbourhoods like Hadley Wood. The developers don't listen to me however, and given the stupidly high level of densities accepted under the London Plan (managed out of Boris's City Hall), they don't have to. It's insane.
So all we can do here in Enfield is fight and negotiate - and keep fighting and keep negotiating - to try to limit developers' excesses. Sometimes we win. Originally, the Tories left us with plans for 2000 - 2000!! - new housing units in New Southgate and Bowes. We've whittled it down to 1300, which is still far too much but at least better than 2000. Sometimes we lose. The Bowes Labour councillors argued like mad dogs in front of the Planning Committee opposing the six story high blocks that Notting Hill is still going to build on the NCR - there is a thread written elsewhere on this site by a wannabe politico accusing us of "rolling over" in front of Notting Hill, which is an ignoble lie.The truth is that irrespective of the state of the North Circular Area Action Plan (another red herring that gets evoked quite dishonestly in some quarters), NHHT has the London Plan behind them. And don't they know it. I repeat - it's insane.
It remains that the distress that I read on this site about the consequences for school places, social amenities (like healthcare), traffic, smog, parking everything is totally justified. And the question becomes where we might make a difference. It would take too long to go into all the mitigation strategies that we are pursuing - to say there is a lack of joined up thinking is just plain false. But I think there is one beam of relative hope, somewhere that People Power might be able to make a difference. Namely Ritz Parade.
What gets lost in some of the commentary about the situation on the NCR is the way we inserted the term "balanced" into the Local Plan that our Labour Administration adopted shortly after taking over Enfield in 2010. This was useful because it has got Notting Hill to accept that they can't just build housing in our area (regardless of what Boris wants) but must also create space for the social and other amenities that we all want (and which are so cruelly lacking).
The site where they've agreed to locate these amenities are on what is currently known as Ritz Parade (you know, NW corner of Brownlow and the NCR). The plans for this site have not been finalised yet which gives the Bowes and Bounds community a chance to row back some of the effects of the terrible over-development taking place in front of our eyes. An example of the decisions that the community might take is school places. Enfield Council is re-doing Garfield to accommodate some of the new population but is there cause for a through school covering years 1-13 at Broomfield? You need to say what you think about this, also about what kind of commercial/retail premises might be desirable at Ritz Parade, etc. etc. This whole scenario is very rough for our people and we need to get back anything we can.
I'm not exactly sure re: the timing of the Ritz Parade consultation but please stay in touch with Achilleas, Yasemin and me at http://boweslabour.blogspot.co.uk/. Get involved. I'm hoping that on this one site Notting Hill will be particularly disposed to listen to the community. Touch wood. In any event, we will never ever stop fighting
Absolutely, Susie, there is no way we want that! Achilleas (my Bowes Labour colleague) was already on the case yesterday, meeting with the Planning Officer, who "hasn't made a recommendation but is looking to the Council's policy of not having next fast-food establishments near schools."
We will be putting a lot of pressure on him to already oppose the application at the present stage, but friends across the Bowes and Bounds community can help big time by clicking on the link below and then emailing their refusal to email@example.com
This is a serious worry for us, with my Palmers Green colleague Bambos Charalambous recently (late May 2013) getting the Council "£250,000 of lottery funding to help tackle childhood obesity by getting more young people into sport"
Will let friends know how this evolves, including if and when there is a planning hearing to attend, by uploading info here and/or at our party blogspot. It certainly is NOT what we had in mind when envisioning community amenities at Ritz Parade!
Locally we have a problem with Council policy, it doesn't seem to apply around here. Council policy is against new residential development on garden land but not the area next to Broomfield School, where it is allowed, and is the only site across the whole borough where back garden development is allowed, see page 35 of latest AAP document.
Will the councils policy re fast-food outlets next to schools hold tight here? Mc Donalds wouldn't bother submitting a planning application if they didn't think they had a good chance of getting it through.
No sniping here, just pointing out that we can't sit back and rely on council policy to stop this planning application, we all have to get involved and write to the council and ask them to take into account:
1. There is already a McDonalds at Friern Barnet Retail Park
2. The site is opposite a primary school - healthy food please
3. The site is next to a secondary school - healthy food please
4. We already have a litter problem in the central reservation of the A406, this drive thru will only increase litter problem
5. We already have a vermin problem and more fast food outlets will encourage more vermin
The trick to stopping a planning application is to find out what really holds water when opposing. Whilst the above 5 points are all valid (well I think so) are they of any value when opposing a planning application? What do you think we should put in out letters to convince the planning committee that Mc Donalds isn't a good idea.
Fine for you and colleagues to be fighting like 'mad dogs' as you say but I'd rather you give us some points we can use to oppose the planning application.
Laura's contribution above mentions no names and is based on policy not people. As I read it, the comment is her perception of the consistencty of policy implementation across the borough. not a personal attack.
Playing the ball not the "man" is in our terms of service and applies to each contributor to the forum equally. All the content on this forum is avaiable for public viewing and all comments accredited to individual authors.
Let's focus on what we can do together to oppose the application.
I agree totally Richard that the contribution immediately preceding your comment is absolutely fine. Issue oriented, which is what we all want.
On the other hand, the one before that is not cool.
It intimates some kind of linkage between Enfield's Planning Department and McDonalds Corporation, while also giving off the impression of actually knowing what McDos bases its expansion decisions on. Is any of this substantiated? If not, how does it help our community effort?
As for the garden grabbing - Bowes Labour's policy was always that no tenant should have to lose any part of their garden without being satisfied with what they got in return - I still don't see why this isn't a red herring but whatever.
As you and I agree, though, this is all a digression. To repeat, the only thing that matters is lodging opposition to McDonalds. Friends have the details now and should write and ask neighbours to write. Councillors have already been meeting with planning officers. So keep going
Actually, just conferred with some senior people whose opinion is that "The planning reasons for the objection must lay in the inability of the road system to cope with a drive in."
I just emailed development control. Let me know if there's any more support we can give you down here in Noel Park.
Thank you very much Rachella, that's great
Just astounding news!
Hi Laura and others
I'm not sure I feel so negative about this proposal, but I wouldn't wish to bore or upset anyone by airing my reasons, unless anyone wishes to read them - in which case reply to me?
Best wishes, Geoff
Thanks for responding. Please do air your reasons. It's why I launched this thread! Lots going on and we need to know exactly what people think
Dear Alan (and of course anyone else reading!)
Thanks for inviting me to air my doubts about whether - or why - people should oppose the proposed McDonalds on Bowes Road.
I'd like to float some thoughts which might be unpopular, but which are honestly intended to be constructive and community-minded. I certainly do not wish to criticise anyone who has already commented. Indeed, it may be that none of my ideas hold water. I am quite prepared to be persuaded to oppose - but I need to see cogent arguments. If we are to comment unfavourably on this proposal we should do so on the basis of reasons which are valid and which have a chance of influencing the planning process, not some gut reaction to "The McDonalds Monster".
To my mind the most common reasons to object to McDonalds, in general, seem to be (1) a sense of "corporate immorality" (2) "risk" of childhood (and adult) obesity (3) responsibility for "lowering the tone" of an area and (4) increased traffic. I'd like to comment on these four reasons.
Firstly, corporate immorality. This is based, I would guess, on very worthwhile campaigns in the past about non-sustainable food sources (beef) and employee exploitation. So, if those issues are still live, protest against this new development on those grounds, and while you're at it, ask for the McDonalds in Friern Barnet to be closed. If these issues are no longer pertinent, deal with McDonalds as they are here and now.
Second, obesity, and the "risk" to kids including those attending local schools nearby. It's common to illustrate stories about childhood obesity with images of McDonalds (as in the Enfield Independent and a zillion other places), but this is lazy media shorthand. McDonalds is a restaurant chain, like many others, which serves a wide variety of different foods, including menus which will make you fat if you eat them too often and don't exercise, but also healthier options which can be part of a decent diet. They have salads, you can have grilled chicken instead of breaded, you can ask for sandwiches without mayo, they have lo-cal drinks. Having a range of menus is just the same for Pret a Manger or Greggs, but no-one's going after them. Why? I'd love a Greggs on Ritz Parade, but it's my fault if I eat too many of their Belgian Buns.
So why is McDonalds' food demonised (by journalists or parents) as "causing" obesity? If Enfield indeed has the fattest kids in London, it is not McDonalds that is to blame, but unhealthy lifestyles that include poor exercise habits, and too much high fat & sugar food that is available in ALL fast food outlets, plus the myriad of sweet shops that kids dive into in every school break. This is not McDonalds fault, it is a failure of education and persuasion - by parents, schools, health services, the media and so on. McDonalds provide a free choice of dishes including healthy ones which are also cheap, so don't claim that the choices are skewed unfairly by price. Kids choose to buy chocolate not healthy fruit bars in sweet shops. It is choice in action, coupled to a failure to educate and encourage our children. Soon enough our children will be completely free to buy and eat what they wish, without the hand of parental or school control. They have to be ready for this: it is our responsibility, not that of planning departments.
Third, lowering the tone. Currently, Ritz Parade is pretty much a wasteland - yes, because of appalling planning failures in the past, plus demographic and social change - but we are where we are. The arguments which are rightly used every day about the essential need to keep all kinds of retail outlets OPEN in our community, and to re-open closed shops (Mary Portas, High Street "deserts", opening of local artisan food places and so on) are profound. In this era of online shopping we need to encourage "footfall" everywhere. If I may play devil's advocate, classifying Bowes Road as a "no-go" area for shoppers by denying applications for new ventures is precisely to turn our backs on opportunities to begin the re-humanising of this road - and to betray the shopkeepers who have hung on by their fingertips there (do any of you ever shop there?). Everyone knows that if places are open, people are around, vandalism reduces and community builds. I fail to see why the introduction of a McDonalds (and I have viewed the plans online) would constitute a move in the wrong direction - on the basis of a degradation of the environment as it stands. Indeed I would hope that it would improve things for other shopkeepers - and maybe one day the old Ritz could become a great indoor market! A destination instead of a trunk road to be endured.
Lastly, the effect that putting in a McDonalds will have to increase the density of traffic on Bowes Road. According to the detailed assessment available on the Council website (Transport Assessment part 1 of 4), this is likely to be up about 2% in peak hours. Try arguing that we should not reopen shops on any local High Street because it is likely to increase vehicle traffic by 2%. Or 5%. We should also remember that a good proportion of the everyday rush hour vehicle journeys are undertaken by parents driving their kids to or from school, when they could accompany them on the tube, bus, or walk. A huge number of vehicle journeys on the A406 result from the car-owning public's addiction to convenience. It is perverse to demand the right always to be able to use your car, yet fulminate about slightly increased traffic due to a job-creating retail outlet. Where are your teenage kids going to earn a crust on a Saturday morning? There is a balance to be struck always between pros and cons. At least be honest about what you expect, and what you are prepared to give up.
A couple of parting shots, before everyone takes me apart.
A confession. As a family we do go to MacDonalds in Friern Barnet from time to time. Shock horror. We enjoy a burger and fries, but we would never consider going there every day, same as I would not buy cakes from Greggs for us every day. It's part of the mix. So: in the FB Retail Park MacDonalds on a busy lunchtime, there must be 20 people working there. All getting a grounding in hard work, all being paid. Not sitting at home playing computer games, or loitering around expecting a handout (is it still called loitering?). Teenagers saving for music, fun, holidays or clothes (my 19-year-old niece is spending 9 months going round Europe on her McDonald's earnings). Parents topping up the family income. And of course, lots of busy punters getting a quick meal cooked in proper clean kitchens at affordable prices (what they order is up to them, it's called choice). And without doubt the availability of quick and convenient meals within easy reach of the retail units up there is going to increase footfall for those shops, in these desperate times for retail. Isn't that preferable to another empty retail unit up in the Retail Park? I don't want Halfords to disappear. So if those arguments are fine for Friern Barnet, why not on Bowes Road?
A plea. We have fantastic new resources of social media growing up around us particularly via the "hyperlocal" websites and email blogs (huge thanks to all those involved - you are all making a big difference to our community so please carry on!). These have potential to help the growth of all sorts of new ventures - new shops, bars, cafes, markets, pop-up this and that, art trails, closed roads for kids parties, new ideas all the time - and there will be many more. This communication and networking seemingly from nowhere is so inspiring and with the energy and goodwill of all sections of our local community we can make a huge difference - we are already seeing this. We can re-make a sense of community after the disastrous isolation of the post-war years. However, there is, I contend, a worm in this apple: this being the too-rapid rejection of some ideas based on feelings or opinions which - perhaps - are based on hearsay and media shorthand.
My, I have gone on a bit, haven't I? At least think about what I have said and thanks for reading this far. If there are REAL reasons to oppose this planning application, weigh in with all conviction. And if you convince me, I will of course be doing the same.