Fresh hurdle looms for Cockfosters car park redevelopment

The government is considering a request to ‘call in’ the 14-storey plans for determination, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

An impression showing how the TfL development next to Cockfosters Station might look if built

Controversial proposals to build tower blocks on the car parks at Cockfosters Station could face a big hurdle after the government was asked to ‘call in’ the scheme.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) confirmed that the request to call in the planned 351-home development was currently “under consideration”.

If the call-in goes ahead a public inquiry will be held into the proposed scheme, headed by a planning inspector who will make a recommendation to Simon Clarke, the newly-appointed secretary of state, on whether to approve permission. Enfield Council has been told not to grant permission while the matter remains under consideration.

Drawn up by Connected Living London (CLL) – a partnership between Transport for London (TfL) and developer Grainger – the Cockfosters Station proposals sparked more than 2,800 objections from the public. They included concerns over the loss of 323 parking spaces, the impact on the station’s heritage, demand for local services and infrastructure, public safety, and accessibility.

Despite the opposition, which also included objections from two local MPs, the council’s planning committee voted in February to approve the proposals.

However, the plans suffered a setback soon afterwards when, in March, then-transport secretary Grant Shapps announced he would refuse consent to dispose of the operational railway land needed to build it. It essentially blocked the development from happening, although TfL is understood to be considering legal action over the move.

Now, further controversy has arisen after the council failed to inform councillors that the call-in request had been made as soon as it received notification from the government at the beginning of July.

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Alessandro Georgiou, the Conservative group leader and Cockfosters ward councillor, said it was “outrageous” that the information had been “withheld” from members.

Cllr Georgiou said: “It affects the ability of councillors to write to the government to express their views on the application, and it gives TfL an unfair advantage in terms of timing. And basically, residents – of which almost 3,000 wrote to object to the application – were not informed.”

A council spokesperson said: “Enfield Council is aware of the request sent to the secretary of state.

“We have listened to the concerns voiced by members and as a result we are changing the way we work so that ward councillors are aware of developments such as this.

“We have written to DLUHC requesting more time to be given to councillors to submit representations on this case, before the department confirms the secretary of state’s position on the planning application.”

A spokesperson for CLL said: “We have been made aware that the DLUHC has asked Enfield Council not to grant permission of the planning application for the proposals in Cockfosters. This is to enable the department to consider whether the application should be referred to the secretary of state for determination. We await the outcome of this period of consideration.”

A spokesperson for DLUHC said: “We have received a request to call in the application and it is under consideration.”

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