Brent Cross is an area of north London, in the London Borough of Barnet. It is located near the A41 Brent Cross Flyover over the A406 North Circular Road. Brent Cross is best known for its shopping centre and the proposed Brent Cross Cricklewood development.

Brent Cross is in the London Borough of Barnet and contains the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The area takes its name from an old crossroads near the River Brent and is not in the London Borough of Brent (that local authority lies to the west of the nearby A5 Edgware Road). It has no specific boundaries but in general only premises west of the Brent Cross Flyover, east of the M1 motorway and close to the North Circular are described as being in Brent Cross. The River Brent passes through it, flowing from east to west in a man-made channel.

"Brent Cross" was originally the name of a crossroads in the vicinity of the current Brent Cross Flyover. By 1944 the term was being used to describe addresses north of the A406 North Circular Road and west of the A41 Hendon Way and after the eponymous shopping centre was built it was also used to describe business addresses south of the North Circular. Previously the area had been known as Renters Farm, a name dating from 1309, and it remained largely farmland until the nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century a sewage works was built there and Hendon Greyhound Stadium stood there from 1935 to 1970. In 1976 the Brent Cross Shopping Centre was opened, the first stand-alone shopping centre to be built in the UK. In the 1920s and 1930s, two major roads through the area were constructed, the east-west A406 North Circular Road and the north-south A41 Hendon Way. In 1923 the Northern line (Edgware branch) was extended on a short viaduct over the River Brent. In 1965 the Brent Cross Flyover was built to carry the Hendon Way over the North Circular. In the 1970s, the North Circular Road was upgraded with a huge east-west flyover rising from Brent Cross above both the A5 road and the railway line.The M1 motorway was extended south to meet the North Circular Road slip roads below this flyover.

Shopping Centre
When Brent Cross Shopping Centre opened in 1976 it was the first stand-alone shopping mall in the UK. It was initially constructed in an dumbbell shape running east-west parallel to the North Circular Road, with the two largest stores ( John Lewis and Fenwicks) at the ends. It was expanded and renovated beginning in 1995, with additional shops and restaurants on an arm running north from the middle. A multi-storey car park replaced the remainder of the open parking area to the north. Although it is smaller than more recent shopping centres such as the MetroCentre, Bluewater, Lakeside and Westfield London, it has one of the largest incomes per unit area of retail space in the UK. Brent Cross currently offers 8,000 free car-parking spaces, but according to the planning application submitted in March 2008 (see below) will eventually introduce parking charges.

In 2003, planning permission for a 27,000 sq m extension to the shopping centre alone was rejected by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, because of its over reliance on car transport, and because sentiment had moved away from "out-of-town" shopping centres - which Brent Cross was considered to be. Brent Cross has been designated by the Mayor of London in his London Plan as a 'proposed opportunity area'. In a renewed effort to improve the area, the London Borough of Barnet approved a "Brent Cross, Cricklewood and West Hendon Development Framework" plan in 2004. This was to redevelop the whole Brent Cross district on both sides of the North Circular Road, not just the shopping centre. There would be more shops (retaining the old shopping centre), but also extensive new housing and offices, and attempts would also be made to regenerate West Hendon and Cricklewood. The document stated that,

The local planning authority's estimate of "29,100 additional vehicles" (for a 12-hour weekday period) has been a mobilising issue for local environmental, transport and residential groups, in their opposition to the planned redevelopment. The plans were jointly promoted by the Greater London Authority, the major land owners, developers and the local authority, and became Supplementary Planning Guidance, and incorporated into Barnet's Unitary Development Plan. Since then, redevelopment of the West Hendon housing area, further north on the A5 road, has been dealt with separately. The Brent Cross developers are the owners of Brent Cross shopping centre ( Hammerson and Standard Life Investments) and Brookfield Multiplex. Barnet Council owns the freehold of the shopping centre, and much of the land to the south of the North Circular Road.

Planning application 2008-2009
In March 2008 the developers presented and published a new planning application , partly in outline and without the required transport assessment which was to follow shortly. When that appeared in November 2008 Barnet Council extended the deadline for comments and objections. (A planning application of this size requires the approval of the local borough and the Mayor of London, and can also be reviewed by the Secretary of State for the Environment). The Greater London Authority’s report included criticisms and challenges from Transport for London. The London boroughs of Brent and Camden, whose roads border the development area, formally objected . Although the planning application stresses the importance of walking, cycling and public transport, specialist organisations such as the London Cycling Campaign and the Campaign for Better Transport also objected. Local residents and Friends of the Earth objected to the proposals for a new waste facility on the edge of the development and a coalition of objectors Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood was formed . Consequently the developers added supplementary documents to the application; Barnet Council again extended the deadline for objections and twice postponed the committee meeting to consider the application. The council officers formally recommended approval of the application and the planning committee approved it on 19 November 2009.

The London Underground stations nearest to the shopping centre are Brent Cross and Hendon Central, both on the Northern Line. According to the council, both "feel very remote and lack adequate pedestrian links and signage", and the 10 to 15-minute walks are through "a hostile pedestrian environment." . The bus station adjacent to the shopping centre is served by 13 bus routes. It is open 24 hours and when the shopping centre is closed a cash machine, some phone boxes and drinks and confectionery machines remain accessible.

Transport development
Transport schemes have been proposed involving Brent Cross, as part of, or concurrent to, the Brent Cross Cricklewood development. These include
  • measures promoted by the Brent Cross Cricklewood developers but the subjects of objections to their planning application , including
  • a new rail station on the Thameslink line
  • new bridges over the A406 North Circular, but the removal of another bridge
  • moving the bus station closer to the A406 North Circular
  • significant changes to the road network within and around the development.
Neighbouring areas of Brent Cross Colindale Hendon Temple Fortune West Hendon, Staples Corner Golders Green Brent Cross Dollis Hill Cricklewood Childs Hill “ It is forecast that the land use proposals within the Framework will generate 132,800 new person trips per 12-hour weekday into the area, including 29,100 additional vehicles. An additional 35,800 passengers per day will arrive by bus and 28,900 passengers will arrive by rail or underground. Walking and cycle journeys will be shorter in distance and many of these will be made entirely within the area. ”
  • the West London Orbital underground railway, promoted by the West London Business group
  • the FastBus limited-stop bus service (to reach Brent Cross in a second phase), promoted by - the Park Royal Partnership business group, London Borough of Brent and London Borough of Ealing
  • the North and West London Light railway, promoted by the London Group of the Campaign for Better Transport (UK) , to link Brent Cross, Wembley, Ealing Broadway, West Hampstead, Colindale and Finchley Central.


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