Our vision is to create a series of modern and thoughtfully designed homes intended for a retired generation who seek social engagement and an active lifestyle in retired life, meeting the need for new senior living homes in the area. These new homes will sit alongside a series of new public spaces, including a community hub building for a range of uses and a new three-hectare wild common.
Please scroll down to find out more about the vision that we have set out. For further information, you can also download a full copy of the boards that were presented at the exhibitions in November by clicking HERE.
The scheme at a glance
By listening to local people and representatives over the last six months our specialist design team, led by Barr Gazetas and landscape architects Exterior Architecture, have created proposals that we believe respond to local need and policy, and both respect and enhance the surroundings. We hope you agree.
Overall, the proposals will create:
1. A new three-hectare common
for the public to use and enjoy
2. New senior living homes
meeting the significant identified need for such housing in Mill Hill and Barnet
3. A development nestled in its landscape
and sat behind trees which surround the site from all sides
4. A masterplan shaped by the beautiful cedars
and other prominent trees around the site, with an increase in the number of trees overall
5. Facilities that improve the quality of life for senior residents
such as a hydrotherapy pool and arts space
6. An increase in green space
compared with the existing Watch Tower House, by reducing the extent of the built up part of the site
7. A new farmhouse café and shop
for community use
8. A new long-term owner and neighbour
committed to being part of the Mill Hill Community
9. New affordable housing
to help support those in need
10. Reduced pressure on local services
such as GP surgeries, by providing care on site
Artist’s impression from Cedar Square
The site & context
Watch Tower House is a large outdated 1950s building that was until recently home to the operations of the International Bible Student Association (Jehovah’s Witnesses), who have now moved to other premises. The next door site is known as Kingdom Hall, which also formed part of the IBSA community but is now vacant.
According to local planning policy and our own architectural and heritage specialists neither of these buildings has any particular architectural interest and they do not contribute to the Mill Hill Conservation Area in which they sit. The Watch Tower House site is however identified for allocation in Barnet’s draft Local Plan to provide homes, community uses and open space, and sits within the Mill Hill East Growth Area.
Watch Tower House is made up of a central building with several wings, a number of outbuildings, tarmac, concrete service roads and car parks. As shown in the pictures below, the developed footprint of the existing buildings and car park is quite extensive, despite the site falling within the Greenbelt. Reclaiming and regreening some of this space is a significant part of our thinking.
Aerial image showing the Watch Tower House and Kingdom Hall sites
The site benefits from a dense perimeter of boundary trees which largely screen the site from its surroundings. Sat on the brow of the hill, the site also slopes down significantly as you move further south as is shown in the image below.
The Kingdom Hall site includes a one and a half storey hall at the very north of the site, and a large maintenance shed area by the Ridgeway. The vast majority of the site is taken up by a large field to the south of the hall, which is currently private and inaccessible to the public.
The existing Watch Tower House building
Existing field at the Kingdom Hall site
Your feedback & our response
Marstead Living very much wants to be part of the Mill Hill community for many years to come as the long-term owner and manager of the new development. As such, the ML team is committed to being a good neighbour and to contributing positively to the community and environment of Mill Hill.
Over the last six months we have been talking to many of you along with many community representatives about what you think the area needs and your concerns about any future development here. From April to September 2021 we undertook our first phase of public consultation on the proposals, which included:
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
in the Barnet Borough Times
sent to local stakeholders.
sent to local residents and businesses.
launched providing details of the emerging scheme
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 refined our proposals.
You said, we did
“Ensure the height is in keeping with surrounding buildings so there is minimal impact on views.”
We have reduced the height of the buildings in our masterplan by one to two storeys, so that the buildings will be 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 minimal impact on views.
“There should be plenty of car parking spaces to avoid residents parking on the Ridgeway.”
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 farmshop and café.
“The buildings should be located well away from homes on the Ridgeway and Bittacy Park Avenue.”
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.
“The site could be more open and accessible to the public.”
We are opening up access to a substantial, new three-hectare public common on the Kingdom Hall site, that will not only help improve biodiversity, but offer a fantastic new peaceful green space for community use. In addition, we will be creating a new café and farm shop building, that can act as a communal meeting point in the area.
The updated masterplan
The setting in this beautiful part of north London is a huge part of the draw and the proposed masterplan reflects that, creating homes and spaces that sit sensitively within their surroundings and the existing trees on site.
The new homes will be set in buildings around a central square, concentrated towards the north of the site, and pulled away from the site boundaries.
Overall, the masterplan comprises of:
180 senior living homes
Around 180 much needed and beautifully designed senior living homes at the Watch Tower House site, alongside the provision of new affordable homes for families on the northern part of the Kingdom Hall site.
More green space
More green space through the removal of concrete and tarmac areas, delivering a net gain in overall green space.
Extensive new planting of trees
Retention of the majority of trees in and around the perimeter of the site and extensive new planting to retain and enhance its character and natural boundaries.
A three-hectare common
The opening up of the adjacent field on the Kingdom Hall site to provide approximately three hectares of public open space as a ‘wild common’ – a new benefit for the area which was previously closed to local residents. This includes improvements to the public Right of Way, such as a much needed cycling route and a connection into the field.
New amenities for the community
New amenities for the community, including a new community hub building with potential for a farmhouse café, shop, bookable meeting rooms and other community uses.
As proposed at the public webinar May 2021
Current proposals, November 2021
Creating the right type of specialist older persons’ housing
There is a clear and growing need to build homes for people who are over 65 and still active and independent, in search of the right environment, amenities and community to suit this next stage of their lives. Marstead Living wants to make it easier for older people to ‘right-size’, to create a place that enables long, healthy and happy lives and in turn free up larger family homes and reduce the pressure on local health and social care services.
The homes we are proposing would be for sale and intended to allow Barnet residents to lead more independent lives, in their own homes, and for longer. For example, by providing communal facilities managed by Marstead Living on site, we can create a sense of belonging, social and community engagement and encourage and facilitate healthy, active lifestyles. These facilities include:
A restaurant and dining area
for communal eating and functions – though residents will also have their own kitchen and dining areas in their own homes too
Kitchen and growing gardens
including orchards and vegetable gardens
A range of beautifully designed and fully-accessible gardens
that extend south of the site
A gym and small pool
for hydrotherapy sessions
Potential for doggy day care
allowing residents to continue to live with these special companions much later into life than would otherwise
Lounges and a library
for relaxing and spending time in a communal environment
Personal and nursing care services will also be provided by permanent on-site staff for residents who need this service, alongside an out-of-hours call service for round-the-clock support.
The 2019 Extra Care Report found that those who benefited 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 Extra Care saved the NHS around £1,944 per person on average over five years.
Establishing the need here in Barnet
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.
A scheme Nestled within its setting
By understanding the existing landscape and through responsive, 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.
The new buildings will be between two and five storeys – approximately a storey taller than the existing Watch Tower House building – with the tallest elements deliberately situated back from the Ridgeway and neighbouring homes. With the dense tree coverage along the perimeter of the site, this means the new building will have very little visual impact on the surrounding area, as is demonstrated by the series of wire line drawings to the right. The site also benefits from a significant slope north to south, which means that while still five storeys, the buildings further south are only roughly three storeys above the Ridgeway.
An artist’s impression of the proposals
That said, we do not want this site to be separate from the public as the integration between new residents and the area is key to making sure that we can contribute positively to the community here and give residents a great quality of life. That is why we are proposing to open up access to the buildings at the north of the site with the creation of a farmhouse café, shop and community hub.
The below views show where the building sits behind natural features such as trees and woodland. As is the case with the existing buildings, it will be possible to see glimpses of the buildings through the trees when viewed from the Kingdom Hall field, however views from the Ridgeway will be limited. Overall, the visual impact of the proposals compared to the existing will be negligible. These images have been produced independently and verified by the Council.
The proposed as viewed from the Adam & Eve pub on the Ridgeway
The proposed as viewed from the Ridgeway
The proposed as viewed from Engel Park
Creating more public green space and increasing biodiversity
Our proposals will create a new three-hectare common by opening up public access to the large meadow that sits within the Kingdom Hall site, that is currently inaccessible to the public. At the same time, we will be removing the large tarmacked car park areas that currently sit on the Watch Tower House site, to give more of the development back to nature in a process of ‘re-greening’.
The new common will be three hectares in size and will be a peaceful area for the public to use, enjoy and pass through. It will be maintained and managed by Marstead Living. Our landscape specialists have also been considering how we can expand and upgrade the green spaces and planting on the Watch Tower House site. With parking now underground more of the site will be dedicated to green space. Even without the new common there will be a 6% net increase in green space. Shown in the diagram to the left you can see the grey areas to the south that we are proposing to remove, and how this creates the uplift in green space.
An artist’s impression of the common looking south
Creating beautiful architecture
Our design is about the experience, spirit of place and celebrates the incredible trees, flora and fauna. The buildings are designed to respond to the local character and context and to compliment the trees and views.
The design of the Kingdom Hall housing, Community hub and the Ridgeway gateway building on the Watch Tower House site is directly influenced by the richness found in the Conservation Area. They are high quality, small scale and carefully considered.
Once you are past the tree-lined Ridgeway, a collection of individual buildings with unique characteristics and quality, bound by a landscape plan that draws the Green Belt up the site and into the heart of the development, can be enjoyed by the residents. We have carefully crafted six key components to define homes that although hidden from the public view, enhance the Conservation Area.
Site access and parking
In our first consultation, many local people said they were concerned about an increase in vehicle traffic and congestion caused by guests and visitors. Our strategy, worked up in conjunction with transport consultants ARUP, will in fact see fewer cars visiting the site each day, compared to when the site was previously in operation.
We are now proposing to excavate a basement level to create a new underground car park, with all the parking spaces needed to cater for 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 number of parking spaces for the new farmhouse café at the north of the site, reducing pressure on the Ridgeway.
Marstead Living will offer an on-site electric car club for our residents, as well as a dedicated mini-bus. That said, 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 also anticipate that there will be less cars and people visiting the site each day than when ISBA operated here.
The proposed masterplan
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