Grahame Park was named after Claude Grahame-White, the pioneer aviator, and built on the site of the old Hendon Aerodrome that he established in 1911. The RAF Museum sits next to the housing estate and is a wonderful place for men of a certain age who can remember making Airfix kits, or adolescent children who just like climbing in and out of machines.
Hendon Aerodrome had a proud history, pioneering aerial photography and night flying. Sadly there was not much to be proud of at the 1,800-home council estate that was supposed to pay tribute to Grahame-White. Built on the old inward-looking ‘Radburn’ design that separates transport from people, it simply left isolated those who had no access to a car. It quickly declined in popularity making letting difficult; as a result Grahame Park became a place of last resort experiencing all the stresses of inner city life such as drug dealing, crime and vandalism etc.
I put together a talented team of council officers to redevelop both the estate and the disconnected Colindale area. I commissioned a Masterplan for the area, had it identified as an Opportunity Area in the GLA London Plan, and crucially obtained funding to replace two narrow Victorian railway arches carrying Midland main line trains, and which had prevented busses coming into Colindale from the east.
The new homes developed by Genesis and Countryside are inspirational for Colindale. By carefully selecting other developers, such as Berkeley Homes, and bringing forward other site opportunities, such as the old Colindale Hospital, Colindale is undergoing a remarkable transformation: from the most deprived part of Barnet, to the most exciting and vibrant.