A lot can happen in Haringey’s planning sub-committee. On Monday night St William took their latest application to deal with reserved matters on the Heartlands – for blocks D3 and D4 where gasholder no 3 stood and where the new Moselle Walk footpath will run above the culvert. Beneath D4 – which includes 46 flats of ‘affordable’ family housing – St William will build a new energy centre to provide 20 megawatts of heat for 5000 homes in Wood Green. Haringey propose to set up a company to run this themselves - eventually drawing on gas supplied from the Edmonton incineration plant.
Councillors worried about the noise and heat, the viability of the company and the cost of its products and how green the energy would be. They fretted about the number of ‘single aspect’ dwellings and asked for details of the number of flats that wouldn’t have separate kitchens or be fully adapted for wheelchairs. It was evident from the responses that the planners and the developers had done a lot of hard work. But as the discussion went on – all two hours of it - the density of this development, the alarming amount of activity intended to go on in one small area, became more and more exposed.
When the wheels finally came off the wagon it was from an unexpected angle. Why, it was asked, was there so much space for cycle parking and no segregated cycle route? The answer – which no-one could quite face up to – is because there’s no room. But on this issue elected members dug their heels in. They stopped short of refusing the application. They were advised that they couldn’t impose a condition on St William alone. So they instructed their officers to go back and solve the problem. They weren’t accepting the current catch-all of ‘shared use’ – bad for cyclists, bad for pedestrians it was said.
This condition gets to the heart of the problem in Wood Green. There is more traffic than the roads can cope with. Overall, a walking and cycling strategy requires more space not less. You can’t cram traffic, retail, housing, open space, biodiversity, health and education into one patch like this - something has to give. Can we now look forward to the same democratic practice in planning Wood Green’s future as members of the planning committee brought to last night’s application?
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