Articles | Caring for Communities

Caring for Communities

Caring for Communities

By Cath Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive of Barnet Council

Barnet is London’s second-largest borough by population, home to 389,000 people. But despite its size, the borough retains a strong local community feel. We have 30 town centres, each with its own distinct identity and character. Nearly half our residents were born in another country, and more than 90 languages are spoken in our primary schools. Creating places that celebrate our proud, diverse heritage is therefore a real priority as we deliver one of the most ambitious growth agendas in the capital.

Our Plan for Barnet 2023–26 sets out an approach to regeneration and growth defined by our commitment to caring for people, our places, and the planet. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Instead, we are embarking on a journey to ensure that communities are at the heart of shaping our plans.

In North Finchley, Edgware and Burnt Oak we have set up partnership boards to steer renewal, which across the three town centres will deliver thousands of new homes. These boards bring together elected members, local businesses, community groups and residents to protect what people love about their local area while transforming it to create a thriving new environment. There is a fine balance between preserving what is great about the present and meeting the needs of the future, and only community input will help us achieve that.

In 2022, the council declared a climate emergency and committed to becoming a net-zero carbon organisation by 2030, and borough no later than 2042.

As part of our ambitious Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration scheme, we are creating a new net-zero park town. The £8 billion Brent Cross Town development will have an onsite energy centre and one of the largest air-source heat pump installations in Europe to provide low-carbon heating and cooling to the new town, including the planned 6,700 new homes. Set amongst 50 acres (20ha) of parks and playing fields, Brent Cross Town will also create 25,000 jobs and 3 million square feet (c. 280,000 sqm) of office space, new and improved schools, retail, leisure and community infrastructure.

The net-zero targets are also driving investment to improve public transport and active travel. In realising our aspiration to create a ‘borough of fun’, it will be essential to encourage more people to visit the area in a sustainable way. Our new train station Brent Cross West, the first mainline station to open in London in over a decade, is due to open in the autumn. It will provide access from central London to the new town in just 12 minutes, complementing the nearby existing Brent Cross tube station. New walking and cycle networks will connect the town with surrounding neighbourhoods.

In Colindale, the second-fastest growing ward in London after the Olympic Park, we are investing in the redevelopment of Colindale Tube station, supported by £29.5 million of levelling up funding. The new station will improve access for one of London’s most deprived communities, as well as supporting the development of thousands of new homes. Work on the station is expected to start later this year.

Caring for Communities