The entrance to The Whalebones in High Barnet (Image: Google Maps)

A developer has failed to overturn Barnet Council’s decision to block a 152-home scheme on fields surrounding a Grade 2-listed building.

Hill Residential’s appeal against the town hall’s refusal of its planned development at Whalebones Park in Wood Street, High Barnet, has been dismissed by a government planning inspector.

In November last year, the council’s strategic planning committee turned the scheme down as members ruled the loss of green space caused by the development would harm neighbours’ views and fail to protect or enhance the nearby Wood Street Conservation Area. The committee’s decision came despite council planning chiefs recommending the scheme for approval.

After Mayor of London Sadiq Khan upheld the council’s decision, the developer appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, triggering an inquiry that took place between August 31 and September 3.

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In a decision published on Monday, planning inspector Jonathan Price wrote: “I am in no doubt that the proposal would have a significantly harmful effect on the character and appearance of the extensive appeal site itself and the surrounding area.”

Mr Price said there would be “harm to the significance of the Grade 2-listed Whalebones House, in part due to the erosion of its pastoral setting”, adding that the plan “would neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance” of Wood Street Conservation Area.

Acknowledging that the scheme would provide some public benefits, he wrote that these would be “significantly” and “demonstrably” outweighed by its adverse impacts.

The appeal ruling is likely to mark the end of the road for the developer’s current plan, although it could submit a new application containing revised proposals for the site.

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A spokesperson for Hill said: “We are extremely disappointed that the inspector did not give more weight to the substantial public benefits that would have been delivered at Whalebones, including 40 per cent affordable housing, accessible open space and community facilities. We are now reviewing the decision to determine our next steps.”

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers fought a five-year battle against the plan to develop Whalebones Estate. Together with The Barnet Society, she defended the main reasons for refusal during the planning inquiry after the council decided to oppose the scheme only on technical grounds.

Ms Villiers said: “It is really good news that we have won this latest battle in what is a long-running campaign from me, The Barnet Society, and local people, to keep this agricultural land in the heart of our community, and not see it turned over to bricks and roads.

“We went into battle against a planning QC and all the resources of a major developer in what was a bit of a ‘David and Goliath’ moment. I am really pleased the planning inspector saw sense and said ‘no’ to the appeal despite the inequality of arms.”

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A council spokesperson said: “The council’s planners and the Greater London Authority’s planners were of the view that the many benefits of the proposed development on Whalebones Park would far outweigh any potential impact on the character of the area and its heritage.

“The benefits to residents would have included much-needed affordable housing and a new public park. Whalebones Park is currently privately owned, with no public rights of access. It is not protected as open space.

“The planning inspector, while acknowledging the benefits that the scheme would bring, took a different view as to the overall weight that should be attached to them and decided that the proposed development would be unacceptable. In doing so, he recognised that residential development would be suitable in principle on the site, but that the balance here weighed against the scheme.”