An attempt to give land next to Friern Barnet Library village green status have fallen through after councillors rejected an application submitted by two residents’ associations.
Friern Barnet and Whetstone Residents’ Association and the Friern Village Residents’ Association applied to Barnet Borough Council more than two years ago for the land to become a village green to secure its future for community use.
But following an independent public inquiry, an inspector recommended the council reject the application because it did not meet all the criteria under the Commons Act 2006.
Keith Martin spoke in favour of the plans at the council’s planning and environment committee. Referring to a comment made by the council’s own officers, he said: “Councillors can of course refuse to follow the inspector’s recommendation and this is not only confirmed in the report to committee but also in the inspector’s recommendation.
“Their reasons would need to be strongly justified, based on legal or evidential information, to rebut any possible challenge of judicial review in the future.”
Peter Storey, secretary of Friern Village Resident’ Association, also addressed the committee, telling councillors the land had been used by families, dog walkers and children since 1946.
He said: “The community of Friern Barnet places immense value on this piece of land.”
Some councillors also spoke in favour of the application, including Cllr Pauline Coakley-Webb, Cllr Barry Rawlings, Cllr Maureen Braun and Cllr Agnes Slocombe.
Cllr Slocombe, who is a member of the committee, said: “This bit of land belongs to the community. They want to have it as open space to do community activities. Don’t we think that in our heart of hearts that we have a duty to our residents to give it to them for their families and children? I think we owe our residents that.”
But when it came to the vote the committee voted five to four in favour of the recommendation to reject the application, with one abstention.
Residents cried out “shame” and “so sad” after years of fighting for the village green status came to an end.