Cockfosters Station car park towers one step closer to being built

Gove gives council planning control but significant obstacle still remains to the 351-home scheme, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The Cockfosters Station plans and (inset) Michael Gove
The Cockfosters Station plans and (inset) Michael Gove

Controversial tower blocks planned on the car parks at Cockfosters Station will not be reviewed by the government – boosting Transport for London’s housebuilding plans.

The 351-home scheme drawn up by Connected Living London (CLL) – a partnership between Transport for London (TfL) and developer Grainger – was approved by Enfield Council in February last year but has since faced months of delays and setbacks.

One month after the council planning committee’s decision, then-transport secretary Grant Shapps announced he would refuse consent to dispose of the operational railway land needed to build the scheme – an unusual move which essentially blocked the development from going ahead – after the Conservative cabinet minister said he was concerned about the loss of parking provision.

Separately, it emerged that the government had been asked to ‘call in’ the scheme, which would have paved the way for a public inquiry into the proposals. But Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has now decided against a call-in, allowing the council to determine the application itself.

TfL is now considering its options regarding Shapps’ veto, which includes submitting a further Section 163 application to allow it to dispose of the operational land. The decision is needed so that TfL can grant a long-term leasehold for the area covered by the Cockfosters development proposals.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan welcomed Gove’s decision but said she regretted that “so much time has been wasted when more good-quality housing is desperately needed by so many of our residents”.

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Cllr Caliskan added: “Providing good-quality housing for the people of Enfield is an absolute priority for this council. We will continue to work on behalf of residents to drive up standards and support and build new quality housing where appropriate.”

Conservative leader Alessandro Georgiou said that as a Cockfosters ward councillor he was “extremely disappointed” by Gove’s decision. He added: “This disgraceful development will create significant harm to Cockfosters and remove a vital car park which is at almost full capacity every day.

“The elderly, disabled, commuters, shoppers and thousands of others will face significant harm as a result of the removal of this significant park-and-ride location. I do, however, have complete faith that the Department for Transport (DfT) will retain their sensible hold on the scheme.”

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers, who lobbied Shapps to save the car parks, said the veto by the former transport secretary “remains in place stopping [the development] from going ahead”. She added: “I will continue to campaign against this completely inappropriate plan for high-rise blocks of flats at Cockfosters.”

A CLL spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the secretary of state for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has decided not to call in the planning application for our development by Cockfosters tube station and is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.

“Our scheme has been designed not only to provide the new and affordable homes that are urgently needed in the borough and across London, but also create new areas of open space and play space that can be enjoyed by the local community and residents alike. It will contribute around £4.5m to help improve local infrastructure and services, as well as provide numerous jobs and training opportunities over the course of construction.”

The decision to grant planning permission is subject to a standard six-week timeframe during which a judicial review can be applied for.

DfT has been approached for comment.

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