Save the Grand Arcade N12 from demolition.
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The North Finchley SPD will see the art deco Grand Arcade, Rex House and former Victorian pub now Kidz Escape in North Finchley, London N12, demolished and replaced with retail units at ground level and flats above. The flats could be as high as 13 storeys, almost as high as the Finchley tower (the out-of-scale Arts Depot building beside it).
In the recent North Finchley SPD statutory consultation with Historic England, they [Historic England] expressed concern at the lack of historic assessment. They requested a more in-depth analysis of the urban and historic character of North Finchley and said that the Strategic Environmental Assessment/Sustainability Appraisal does not adequately assess sites or heritage assets.
Historic England raised concerns for the allocation of sites, stating that this is 'not a suitable SPD task and should be covered in the preparation of the local plan'. They also commented on a few buildings suggesting that they be 'identified as buildings of merit' including the Grand Arcade, Kidz Escape, terraces to the south of Finchley House on the High Road and Victorian terraces at 744-758 High Road, N12.
With regards to Sections 5 & 6 Spatial Strategy and Opportunity Site Briefs: Key Opportunity Sites, they go on to say: 'As discussed above we consider that a supplementary planning document (SPD) should only provide detailed advice on sites already allocated. The Key Opportunity Sites (KOS) have yet to go through the local plan process and, in our view, it is not appropriate to bring these forward in this document. The following comments should be considered with that caveat. Site 1 Tally Ho Triangle and Arts Depot: The Grand Arcade is identified in App A (A11) as contributing to local character. Its Art Deco style and domestic scale make it one of the highlights of the town centre, its qualities brought to the fore by recent investment from the Outer London Commission funding. This should be retained in any development proposals. Likewise, we recommend assessment of the early Victorian detached ‘Kidz Escape’ which appears to be of some historic interest.'
Historic England continue: 'The lack of assessment of these buildings and their potential future contribution is concerning. We note one reason given in the Appendix for retail viability problems in the Grand Arcade is difficulty of access. Could the proposed exclusion of traffic from Ballards Lane potentially overcome this issue? Further thought should be given to this.’
Despite Historic England's concerns, the SPD was unanimously approved by Barnet Council. Application was then made to Historic England to nationally list the Grand Arcade, but listing was unsuccessful. This just leaves 'local' listing which is controlled by Capita/Re who commissioned the SPD in the first place. Furthermore, a review/consultation of Barnet's historic assets was agreed by the council on 07.04.17, Capita/Re have since failed to carry out that review/consultation and had they reviewed the Grand Arcade and surrounding area when they were expected to, it may never have been included in the SPD in the first place. The last review was in 1986, that review failed to identify the Gaumont, Finchley Open Air swimming pool, North Finchley Baptist Church, Finchley Memorial hospital and the imposing Barnet landmark the National Institute of Medical Research in Mill Hill. All have since been demolished, the Grand Arcade is next. But it should be preserved, it should be protected.
The Grand Arcade, Rex House and Kidz Escape buildings should be locally listed and protected from developers.
I live and work in North Finchley. I have known the area since I was a child in the 1970s. Not only do I have many happy memories of the Arcade (particularly the music shop and the toy shop) I continue to enjoy using it today.
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