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FAQs 

1. What are your plans for the site?

Marstead Living is currently developing plans to provide independent later living homes, affordable housing and open space at the Watch Tower House and Kingdom Hall sites in Mill Hill.

Our vision is to create a place that is nestled respectfully into its surroundings with architecture that reflects the character of Mill Hill. We are also excited to be opening up a significant wealth and variety of green spaces for local people to use and enjoy, including a three-hectare common, and to improve biodiversity through our landscaping strategy.

In addition, we are also proposing a new farmhouse café and shop, as well as facilities that improve the quality of life for senior residents, such as a hydrotherapy pool and arts space.

2. Is the site within the Green Belt? If so, how can the land be built on?

Both the Watch Tower House and Kingdom Hall sites are within the Green Belt. Planning policy allows for the redevelopment of both as they have previously been developed on.

3. Who owns the site?

The Watch Tower House and Kingdom Hall sites are owned by Marstead Living. Both were previously home to the operations of the International Bible Student Association (Jehovah’s Witnesses), who have moved into other premises.

4. What is ‘specialist older person’ housing?

Marstead Living are developing a landscape-led masterplan to provide new independent later living homes at the Watch Tower House site, intended for those age 65 and over.

These homes will provide the benefits of home ownership, alongside spaces and services thoughtfully designed to suit the needs of the residents and – by prioritising physical and mental wellbeing and a sense of community – enable long, healthy and happy lives.

5. Is there demand for later life homes in Mill Hill?

The London Borough of Barnet has a fast-growing community of over–65’s, often still living in their family homes, which may no longer be fit for purpose, but with no better option to suit their needs.

By 2041, the London Borough of Barnet is projected to have 25,450 more residents over the age of 60 and 27,300 more residents over the age of 75. This means the Borough will need 6,900 new specialist homes for older people (SOPH) over the next 30 years, or 276 per year. 

The need is particularly acute in Mill Hill, as in ten years’ time 56% of the population will be aged over 65. The need for SOPH in London and Barnet in particular is supported in both the latest London Plan and the Barnet Local Plan.

6. Will this proposal increase demand on local services, such as GPs and hospitals?

We do not expect this development to have a significant impact on local services in any regard and that many of its residents will be people who already live in the surrounding area.

Personal nursing care services will be provided by permanent on-site staff alongside an out-of-hours call service for round-the-clock support. This support is there as and when residents need it, be that for a shorter period of ill-health or if they begin to require more frequent care and support as they get older.

The 2019 ExtraCare Report found that those who benefitted from these types of facilities and access to on-site care were less likely to visit local GPs and spend time in hospital. Indeed, the Report concluded that living in ExtraCare saved the NHS around £1,944 per person on average over five years.

7. Will affordable housing be provided within the development and if so, what type of affordable homes will they be?

Yes – we are proposing to deliver a number of affordable homes on the Kingdom Hall site.

The type of affordable housing is currently being discussed with Barnet Council, however we anticipate that it will be there to accommodate families.

8. How many senior living and affordable homes are you proposing in total?

We are currently looking to deliver around 180 senior living homes on the Watch Tower House site.

The number of homes we will deliver on the adjacent Kingdom Hall plot will be determined by policy drivers like the draft Local Plan, and architectural constraints such as the footprint of the existing building and the tree line, as well as views into this site from the Ridgeway.

9. How tall will your proposal be, and what will the visual impact be on the surrounding area?

By understanding the existing landscape and through smart, sensitive design, architects Barr Gazetas and landscape architects Exterior Architecture have created a scheme that will deliver the types of homes that Barnet desperately needs, whilst remaining nestled into its surroundings in such a way that it will create almost no visual impact on the local area.

We are aware however that this is rightly a sensitive issue locally. As such, since we last presented proposals in May 2021, we have responded by reducing the heights of the buildings by one to two storeys.

 The buildings are now between three and five storeys – just a storey taller than they are currently. The tallest buildings will be towards the centre of the site, which along with tree cover means there will be only a minimal impact on views.

10. Will this proposal increase traffic and congestion in Mill Hill and along the Ridgeway?

We know from our first consultation in May 2021 that there are some concerns about an increase in vehicle traffic and congestion caused by residents and visitors. That is why we have been working closely in conjunction with transport consultants ARUP, on a strategy that will in fact see fewer cars visiting the site each day, compared to when the site was previously in operation.

Not least we are now proposing to excavate a basement level to create a new underground car park, sufficient in size to accommodate all of the residents, staff and visitors. This will mean that no visitors will need to park on the Ridgeway, and that a larger portion of the ground level on our site can be dedicated to green space. There will also be a small number of parking spaces for the new farmhouse café at the north of the site, again reducing pressure on the Ridgeway.

Further, our research shows that people over 65, especially those who live in these types of communities, have different travel patterns, and the number of parking spaces for residents will take into account the public transport links nearby. These links include the 240 bus route which stops outside the site, and Mill Hill East tube station which is under 1km away.

We are also expecting a reduction in the number of people who will be on site each day compared to when the site was occupied by IBSA.

11. What public consultation have you undertaken to date and how have you ensured people are notified?

In April and May and August 2021 we undertook our first phase of public consultation on the proposals, which included:

  • 8 meetings with local stakeholders and representatives, including two meetings with the Mill Hill Preservation Society and local ward councillors.
  • A public webinar attended by 52 people.
  • Social media adverts reaching over 43,000 people locally.
  • Two adverts promoting the consultation in the Barnet Borough Times.
  • Three letters sent to local stakeholders.
  • Flyers sent to around 2,000 addresses in the local area.
  • A dedicated consultation website: marsteadmillhill.co.uk, with a digital survey to collect public feedback.

Via our website, survey, and webinar we received plenty of valuable feedback from the local community, and since then we have spent four months reflecting on the comments received and evolving our designs in response. 

After also receiving feedback from planning officers at the LB Barnet and the Greater London Authority, we have developed a revised proposal for Watch Tower House.

12. How have you responded to local people’s feedback on the plans?

We have made a number of significant changes in response to the feedback we received in May 2021. Not least:

  • We have reduced the height of the buildings in our masterplan by one to two storeys, so that many of our buildings will be between three and four storeys in height and up to five storeys at most – just a storey taller than they are currently.
  • The tallest buildings will be towards the centre of the site, which along with tree cover means there will be at most a minimal impact on views.
  • We have moved all the proposed buildings in our plans to the West by 9 metres, which means the buildings are at least 20m away from nearby residents. We have also demonstrated the impact on the area by commissioning a series of proposed views that we are sharing with you today.
  • We are now proposing to create a new underground car park to ensure there are plenty of spaces for residents and visitors and allowing us to dedicate more of the ground level to green space. There will also be short-stay spaces for those visiting the farm shop and café.
  • We will create a new three-hectare public common on the Kingdom Hall site. This will be a three hectares green space that will help improve biodiversity around the site. In addition to this, the café and farm shop building on the WTH for the public.
13. When will you be submitting your planning application?

It is important to us that we take the time to hear what local people thing of our plans and that we have time to respond to this feedback – as we have been doing since May 2021.

 At present, we anticipate however that we will be in a position to submit an application towards the end of the year.

14. Will there be further chances to comment on the application?

Upon submission we will be providing an update that will summarise the feedback that we have received and our response. 

Once an application has been registered with the Council it will then host its own statutory consultation on the plans and comments can be submitted directly to its planning team.

Throughout our consultation website, Freephone and email will remain open for anyone to get in touch with any comments or queries.

Get in touch

Or message us directly by filling out our contact form here.

watchtowerhouse@londoncommunications.co.uk

0800 3077 571