Sunday, 16 October 2011

Statement from the Pinkham Way Alliance

Enjoy the photos at the 
'Pinkham Panthers' web site
Help Needed to prevent the Destruction of Pinkham Woods

London Borough of Haringey is currently consulting on their plans to change the designation of the Former Friern Barnet Sewerage Treatment Works site (known locally as Pinkham Woods) from:
“Employment generating uses subject to no adverse effect on the nature conservation value of the site." to “Locally Significant Industrial use" without any caveat on protecting its nature conservation value.
It is important that those organisations and individuals who care about London’s wild places oppose this change. Consultation responses must be submitted by 3 November. The consultation documents can be downloaded from Haringey’s website at the following links: (large file)

The consultation states this proposed change in use "Complies with discussions which have already taken place to use part of the site for a recycling centre and other part as waste station".

What is not mentioned in the consultation is that these pre-application discussions relate to a planning application by London Borough of Barnet and the North London Waste Authority to build a 300,000 tonne per annum mechanical biological treatment plant (one of the largest in Europe) plus a vehicle depot for London Borough of Barnet’s fleet of vehicles, that is expected to result in over 1000 vehicle movements per day.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Haringey’s pre-application discussions have identified that these proposals would destroy 3.6 hectares of woodland on this 6.3 Hectare site. Things the consultation document also fails to mention are:

  • The Former Friern Barnet Sewerage Treatment Works site was closed in 1963 and since that time has been left empty to develop into a rich wildlife habitat
  • Its current designation as employment use is “subject to no adverse effect on the nature conservation value of the site” - this part of the designation is conveniently not mentioned
  • The site is one of only eight in the Borough that is designated as being of Grade 1 Borough Importance for Nature Conservation Value
  • Haringey’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) of October 2009 identified an important opportunity to de- culvert the stream on this site as one of a limited number of opportunities to restore watercourses within the Borough
  • Haringey’s BAP highlights that Haringey currently has only 0.16 hectares of Local Nature Reserves per 1000 residents, compared to Natural England’s recommended ratio of 1 hectare per 1000 population. The current ratio is predicted to fall to 0.14 hectares by 2016, due to population growth
  • The BAP has established a target to create an additional 0.5 Hectares of woodland within the Borough.

What you need to know to respond to the consultation

The consultation asks whether the proposed changes are:
  • based on robust and credible evidence? 
  • the most appropriate strategy when considered against the alternatives? 
  • consistent with national policy?
No evidence has been presented that would support the sites change of use to industrial use. The consultation document itself highlights a declining demand for industrial use, that the Upper Lea valley has large tracts of employment land that are now obsolete, and part of the economic development strategy for the Upper Lea Valley is to locate green industries and resource management facilities in the Upper Lea Valley.

The focus for protecting Industrial land will be to protect sites currently in industrial use. No justification is presented for why Haringey would therefore need to designate this site for industrial use, and reverse a current policy position that has sought to protect this site for its nature conservation value.

Had Haringey provided consultees with the full picture of just how important this site is for nature conservation and its context, it would have been obvious to them that a more appropriate evidence-based use that addressed priorities in the Borough would be to designate this site as a Local Nature Reserve. A use which is particularly fitting given the sites close proximity to four neighbouring schools and which would create the opportunity to provide a green chain connecting the site with neighbouring green spaces and improving the permeability of this area of the Borough.

Coppetts Wood in Barnet was also the site of a sewerage treatment works that was closed at the same time as Friern Barnet in 1963. Coppetts Wood was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1998.

The PPS 1 Supplement on Planning and Climate Change sets out the key Objectives for Planning Bodies in terms of the development of local planning policy. These include:
  • To secure new development and shape places that minimise vulnerability, and provide resilience, to climate change; and in ways that are consistent with social cohesion and inclusion;
  • To conserve and enhance biodiversity, recognising that the distribution of habitats and species will be affected by climate change.

Quite clearly, changing the designation of this site, to knowingly remove its current protection and pave the way for its destruction, is not in keeping with these key objectives of National Planning Policy.

As a final bit of context, the site is situated to the south of the North Circular at Pinkham Way and north of Muswell Hill golf course. It is effectively the area of woodland opposite the Alan Day Car dealership, and can best be viewed from the bridge that connects to the Friern Barnet Retail Park. The site forms an intrinsic part of a designated green corridor that connects Alexandra Palace Park via the mainline railway lines to Tunnel Gardens, Blue Bell Woods, Muswell Hill Golf Course, and other green spaces. Haringey's own Nature Conservation officer described the site as:
"an important part of a larger ecological complex and corridor including other SINC’s (Hollickwood Park, Muswell Hill Golf Course, Tunnel Gardens and Bluebell Wood, Albert Rd Rec and Rhodes Avenue Spinney)."
Those who have visited the site will know that this site has one of the richest habitats for wildlife in the Borough, with a mixture of woodland and scrub.

Photos showing just some of the wealth of plant and insect life the site supports can be viewed at:

In addition to the loss of this important site for nature conservation, the resulting vehicle movements that would result from the planning application this change in use is being made to facilitate, will further increase NOx emission rates on the local road network, exacerbating a problem which already sees local residents on Colney Hatch Lane exposed to NOX emissions in excess of national objectives.

Please urgently submit a response to the consultation that:
  • Opposes the change in designation of the Former Friern Barnet Swerage Treatment Works site to Locally Signifucant Industrial use
  • Insisting that any designated use retains the caveat subject to no adverse effect on the nature conservation value of the site
  • promotes its designation as a Local Nature Reserve.

For further context on the real drivers behind this change in designation, please visit:

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