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community view meeting photos largeMore than 130 people took part in the Community Planning event at St Andrew's church in Southgate
Click on the photo to enlarge

In response to the results of a 'Community View' process held last week, in which the majority of participants expressed opposition to the proposal to construct several tall buildings near Southgate Circus - one of them 17 storeys high - Enfield Council has indicated that it will be taking steps to widen engagement in the process for dealing with the planning application, including convening a special Planning Panel meeting.

office village meeting flyer

The flyer advertising Saturday's meeting showed an artist's impression of the proposed tower blocks

The Community View to discuss the planning application for redevelopment of Southgate Office Village was organised by Southgate District Civic Trust with assistance from the national charity Civic Voice.  At a Community Planning event on Saturday Civic Voice ran a series of workshops and special activities at St Andrew's church in Southgate, designed to help people develop their views about the proposed development and think about alternatives. 

The event at St Andrew's was open to the public and widely advertised, and there were more than 130 visitors.  There was also an associated online survey about attitudes to the scheme, which attracted 240 responses.  Civic Voice then analysed the feedback from both sources and presented the results to a second public meeting, on Monday evening.  The Civic Voice report is reproduced in the first box at the bottom of this report, while the second box provides additional data from the online survey.

Speaking after the event, Ian Harvey of Civic Voice said:

‘The findings will demonstrate to Enfield Council and the developer that the local community, in general, support the need for redevelopment on the Southgate Office Village site, but they are opposed to the current proposal, due to its height, impact on character, and most importantly due to not believing that the consultation with the community has been genuine.’

In a press release, Southgate District Civic Trust said that they were supportive of redevelopment of the Office Village site, on what they see as a sustainable location, but ' feel as though the engagement with the community has not been as meaningful as it could have been'.

Southgate District Civic Trust said:

‘The enthusiastic response to the weekend demonstrates how much people care about the future of Southgate. The challenge remains as to how we can move the conversation away from confrontation, into one of collaboration. In doing so, rebuilding public trust about the future of this site?’

Details of the planning application can be found on the council's Planning Portal. The reference is 19/01941/FUL.

civic voice logo

Proposed Southgate Office Village - Community View

Southgate Office Village, 286 Chase Road, London, N14 6HF

The Community Planning event on Saturday 22nd June was an opportunity for the local community to find out more about the proposal, share local knowledge and contribute to a discussion, giving the Southgate community a voice. Civic Voice facilitated the day and used a mixture of presentations, workshops and hands-on activities to stimulate discussion.

Participation was on a drop-in basis and we requested that people pre-register for the event. It was made clear that people could stay for a short while, a few hours or the whole event if they were able to. Civic Voice team members and Southgate District Civic Trust were on hand to answer questions.

Following the event, the Civic Voice team spent the Sunday analysing and summarising the outcomes. We analysed the online survey and workshop feedback to get a more comprehensive response. This was presented back to the local community on Monday 24th June.

Following the Community Planning event and feedback session, the Southgate District Civic Trust will develop the proposals and prepare a full community response to the planning application for submission before 10th July 2019. It is recommended that this is shared wider.

What is Civic Voice?

It is a national charity that was established in 2010 to give a voice to communities in the planning system. We believe that the planning process can be sped up through earlier and more effective community engagement. We want to rebalance the power of the planning system to put people at the heart of the planning process, unearthing the real needs of a community, empowering stakeholders, creating goodwill, inspiring community spirit and building consensus.

We do not want confrontation to dominate the planning system, but want to see more collaboration between developers, councils and communities in creating great places to live.

We do not have any opinion on the need for the regeneration of Southgate Office Village.

What has happened?

Civic Voice was approached by Southgate District Civic Trust on 30th April 2019 to help facilitate the event. We issued a survey on 15th June 2019 to support the workshop discussion.

Over 130 people attended the event and 240 completed the online survey, contributing to the Community Planning Event held at St Andrew’s Church, Southgate to discuss the proposed Southgate Office Village proposal.

Residents, community groups and political representatives - including MP for Southgate Bambos Charalambous; Deputy Mayor, Joanne McCartney and Cllrs Derek Levy, Cllr Edward Smith and Cllr Claire Stewart attended the event, which was advertised locally and through social media and open to all members of the community. Hosted by Southgate District Civic Trust, the day enabled visitors to take part in facilitated workshops and hands-on activities, view an exhibition of the proposed Southgate Office Village site, meet members of the local community and share local knowledge.

The developer, Viewpoint Estates, was not present, nor representatives from the Planning department. The council acknowledges that it was unable to resource officers to attend the event this occasion but wished to acknowledge just how engaged the community is in the scheme and the wider town centre issues. The council states that it is happy to arrange a session for Southgate District Civic Trust to feedback directly to the council and it hoped the event went well.

Summary of feedback

The Community Feedback session highlighted several key themes from the discussions at the event and responses to the on-line survey:

  1. The consultation by Viewpoint Estates is regarded by the attendees and survey respondents as ineffective and much too late in the process for the community to genuinely feel as though they could meaningfully influence the proposal. Most respondents had not received a leaflet regarding the consultation and, therefore, had not been able to attend the developer’s consultation event. People want meaningful engagement and participation in the process.
  2. Although accepting some redevelopment of the site, there is concern that the proposed scheme is overdevelopment of the site and the highest part of the proposal at 17 storeys high is unacceptable to the majority of participants.
  3. Respondents queried the traffic impact assessment in the planning application, this was regarded as unrealistic by the community and did not truly represent the challenges that traffic already has on the area. The provision of car parking was also considered to be insufficient. Respondents considered a new development of this size will exacerbate existing traffic and car parking problems in the area.
  4. There is concern that the density and scale of development will have an adverse impact on local infrastructure and services g. school places, GP surgeries etc.
  5. People felt it was important that future ambitions for the site were planned in keeping with the distinctive village feel that Southgate has managed to retain. The majority were supportive of redevelopment on the site with a development in the region of 6-8 storeys. Some online respondents also welcomed development of up to 10 storeys. However, it is noted that there were a minority of attendees and respondents who were against any development of the site.
  6. Members of the community have questions as they want to understand the proposal and the detail behind it as much as possible. The council should be proactive in sharing the answers and detailed information.

Update from Enfield Council re: planning application (22 June 2019):

  • That the community event has been noted and the council have agreed to extend notification letters to some 400 surrounding properties.
  • The council is looking to programme a special Planning Panel to be convened which will be open to the community and where the applicant would be invited to present the proposed scheme.
  • The proposed application will go before Conservation Area Advisory Group Further details on the above will be available shortly on Southgate District Civic Trust website.

This event was only made possible through the donations from St Andrews Church, Barnet & Southgate College, Southgate District Civic Trust and the voluntary time given by the Civic Voice team.

Southgate District Civic Trust commented:

“It was pleasing to see such high levels of passion and interest during the workshop and exhibition. It is important for the redevelopment of Southgate that Viewpoint and Enfield Council hear what the community are saying. We want people to continue to debate and discuss these issues as it is important that any future regeneration of Southgate Village Office, involves the local community to shape it into a place that works for everybody.”

Online survey findings

  • 79.4 per cent of respondents to the survey had not attended the consultation event in February organised by Viewpoint. 15.02 per cent had attended the consultation event.
  • 66 per cent of respondents believe the site needs to be redeveloped, but not with the current proposals; 23 per cent are against development outright with 10 per cent supportive of the current scheme.
  • 66.5 per cent of respondents to the survey said they had not received one of the 5,000 leaflets that had been circulated to the community. 25 per cent said they had a leaflet and the rest were unsure as to whether they received one.
  • 43.9 per cent of respondents were not aware of the development before Southgate District Civic Trust organised the community weekend. 47.70 per cent were aware of the proposed development. 
  • 94.5 per cent felt the Southgate District Civic Trust event was worthwhile and 83.7 per cent stated that they had had a chance to contribute to the overall discussions and felt it was meaningful.

Log in to comment

David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #4633 27 Jun 2019 11:02
Southgate, Enfield and London are are woefully under-supplied in housing, especially for the young/first time buyers. 200 new units, 50 of which are affordable, is a very positive step in the direction. If the NIMBYs present at this meeting got their way there would be so few new residential units being provided that affordable provision would probably be zero.

[This post has been moderated to remove content expressed in an offensive manner. Play the ball, not the man. Basil]
Edward Asheart's Avatar
Edward Asheart posted a reply #4649 01 Jul 2019 17:01

David Eden wrote: "The majority of participants expressed opposition". There's a surprise. An absolute NIMBYfest.

It's why these processes are fundamentally flawed - massive overweighting to opposition as it's only grumpy anti-development NIMBYs that turn up. Predictable responses as always "we don't mind some kind of development, just not THIS development". Which is why local planning authorities should be left to make objective decisions not pander to this anti-intellectual anti-expert sentimentality that would prevent anything ever being built.

Southgate, Enfield and London are are woefully under-supplied in housing, especially for the young/first time buyers. 200 new units, 50 of which are affordable, is a very positive step in the direction. If the NIMBYs present at this meeting got their way there would be so few new residential units being provided that affordable provision would probably be zero.

"Affordable" being extremely tenuous.
David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #4654 02 Jul 2019 11:12
Indeed. How would you define it?

As the vast majority of what is termed "affordable housing" is actually just council housing re-branded due to being delivered by RP developers.

That's why I'm so in favour of this scheme as the "affordable" element is all shared ownership, therefore the truest sense of the word.

Assuming minimum space standards, 2 bed flats in this development will likely go for c.£400-425k full price. Not exactly affordable but even for London there'll struggle for more than this I imagine given what you can get in developments a zone or so more central.
Chris Horner's Avatar
Chris Horner posted a reply #4665 04 Jul 2019 10:59
You have missed the point entirely.
There is no problem with a dense housing development.
The development is inappropriate in that location,
it is too high
its on the brow of a hill
It goes against basic urban planning principles
it takes no account of the grade 2* listed Charles Holden station
the design is mundane
phase 2 M&S on winchmore hill road and phase 3 pure gym will be a similar height or taller
David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #4667 04 Jul 2019 12:23
What "basic urban planning principles", and by that I mean actual adopted planning guidance in the London Plan or Enfield equivs, does it go against?

Also, what's this "phase 2 M&S on WH Road"? And Phase 3 Pur Gym?? I must not have read into something properly as wasn't aware anything was happening to either.

[This post has been moderated to remove content expressed in an offensive manner. Play the ball, not the man. Basil]
Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #4672 04 Jul 2019 18:33
Can you enlarge on the phase 2 developments on the M&S and gym sites?
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #4675 04 Jul 2019 20:54
I've edited a couple of earlier posts by David E because I consider them to have been phrased in an offensive manner. The argument that he put is not without its merits, but he has not expressed it in an acceptable way. There have been several earlier occasions when he has strayed into unnecessary criticism of the character of people who he disagrees with that I have ignored, but I shall be much stricter in future.
David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #4678 05 Jul 2019 15:15
Sorry Baz, duly noted. Will try drop the N word from my vocab irrespective of applicability form here on in!