TfL moves to secure progress on Cockfosters Station development

Fresh bid for permission to start construction on major housing plans approved by council, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

An impression showing how the development on two separate car parks either side of Cockfosters Station will look when built
An impression showing how the TfL development on two separate car parks either side of Cockfosters Station will look if built

Transport for London (TfL) is launching a fresh bid to allow a major housing scheme at Cockfosters Station to go ahead.

The transport authority has confirmed it is looking to submit a new application to the government to secure permission for the use of operational land at the tube station, after its previous bid was turned down earlier this year.

This would not mean submitting a new planning application, as the previous scheme proposed by Connected Living London (CLL) – a partnership between TfL and development partner Grainger – was approved by Enfield Council’s planning committee in February. The plans include building 351 homes in four tower blocks up to 14 storeys tall on the car parks surrounding the Grade 2-listed underground station.

However, a major hurdle to constructing the homes arose in March when then-transport secretary Grant Shapps blocked the scheme by refusing TfL’s application, under Section 163 of the Greater London Authority Act, to allow it to dispose of operational land at the car parks.

Shapps said he took the decision because he was “concerned that the parking provision at the station would be inadequate following the development proposed by TfL”. The plans would have reduced the number of parking spaces from 370 to 47.

In an announcement made earlier this week, TfL confirmed it is now looking to submit a fresh application to the new transport secretary, Mark Harper. A spokesperson said: “Following the decision from the secretary of state for transport in response to TfL’s Section 163 application regarding the proposals for 351 new homes in Cockfosters, TfL continues to consider the options available and, as part of this, is looking to submit another Section 163 application in due course.”

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The Cockfosters Station proposals have been the subject of intense debate since they were announced in 2019. TfL says they would help to address the housing shortage by providing 132 affordable homes. Housing campaign group PricedOut subsequently lent its support to the scheme, claiming it would “ease London’s desperate housing crisis”.

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But the plans have also attracted significant opposition from local residents and campaign groups. More than 2,800 residents submitted written objections to the Cockfosters scheme, with concerns including reduced access to the station for vulnerable groups, as well as impacts on heritage and infrastructure. An online petition to save the car parks gained almost 3,900 signatures.

In September, CLL encountered another obstacle when the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirmed that a request to ‘call in’ the planned 351-home development was “under consideration”. If the call-in goes ahead it would trigger a public inquiry into the scheme, with the new housing secretary, Michael Gove, then making a final decision on whether it should proceed.

The TfL spokesperson said the transport authority had been “made aware that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has asked Enfield Council to hold on issuing final planning permission for the proposals in Cockfosters”.

They added: “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.”

The Department for Transport did not issue a statement in response to TfL’s announcement but confirmed that any further Section 163 application would be considered in the usual way.

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