Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Spurs have out-stayed their Wembley welcome

Tottenham Hotspur announced yesterday that they are to play two more matches at Wembley because of delays in moving into their new stadium. 

The matches are: 15th September against Liveroool and 6th October against Cardiff City. In addition they have rescheduled an NFL game for Wembley on 14th October.

The club has been unable to give a firm date for their move to the new stadium.

Many Wembley residents complained about the disruption caused by Tottenham’s period at the stadium so will not be pleased by this particular guest overstaying its welcome.

In an email to Carolyn Downs Brent CEO,  former Lib Dem councillor Paul Lorber said:

Dear Ms Downs

When I raised the issue of Tottenham extending their stay at Wembley beyond their existing Planning Permission you indicated that any extension would require a new Planning Permission.

When Tottenham expected to move into their new stadium The FA accommodated their needs for one or two games by absorbing their schedule within the existing 35 large events.
Now that the opening of the new Tottenham stadium was delayed (as I anticipated would be the case) the news report simply state as fact that their games (and even an American football game) are simply reschedules at Wembley without any apparent consultation with local people or any need for a new Planning Permission.

All of this seems very odd and suggests that things are simply imposed on the people of Wembley without much regard for their concerns or their needs - or any apparent say from Brent Council.

Can you please advise me and the people of Wembley on what exactly is going and why they are not being properly informed before decisions appear in the media.

At the time of the original Tottenham Planning Permission many promises were made. Can you list all the promises and indicate the progress and delivery on those.

What has for example happened for more accurate and efficient Event Day notices as many the current flip over signs are either broken or simply do not work. 

The present situation is highly unsatisfactory and the people of Brent  and Wembley deserve better.
A spokesperson for Brent Council told Wembley Matters:
 Any Tottenham games at Wembley this season will be accommodated within the existing planning permission for the Stadium, and be part of their agreed programme of events for the year.

However, they are subject to the cap of events that was initially captured in the original consent (i.e. they don't have the additional events that were granted permission through the 2017 consent).
In a community email today the Football Association said:
You will notice on the calendar that Tottenham Hotspur FC now have three confirmed fixtures to be played at Wembley. This was always an option for Spurs due to the tight time scales involved in the development of their new stadium. Spurs will only be playing here for a limited time and will not be playing a full season at Wembley Stadium as has previously been reported in the press.
Yesterday the Sun LINK reported that Spurs had been forced to pay a 'substantial' sum to the FA in order to stay at Wembley beyond Satrurday's game.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Northwick Park regeneration - key public questions for Monday's Brent Cabinet

I am pleased to see that Gaynor Lyoyd is pressing home her demand for more information on the One Public Estate Plan for Northwick Park.  A year ago I called for more public information LINK

Gaynor's questions following up her earlier post on Wembley Matters LINK

The combination of a Cabinet meeting on August 13th, a meeting held in peak holiday season and one at a time (4pm) inconvenient for people who work, would normally mean a lack of scrutiny so all credit to Gaynor Lloyd for her detailed questions. It should mean that the meeting lasts longer than its normal 45 minutes.

These are the questions:
Item 8  “Approval to enter into grant agreements for 2 Housing Infrastructure bids relating to ...Northwick Park Regeneration “ in Cabinet meeting Agenda 13 August 2018.
1  Northwick Park is a much loved local facility - a park, playing fields and sports pitches, a golf course and a Grade 1 Nature conservation site an area much used by locals for open air leisure over many years. As Brent’s policies CP17 & 18 make clear, Brent is deficient in all types of open space and - at any rate in a Sports England survey in 2005-6 - had one of the lowest levels of sports participation in England. Unsurprisingly, policy CP17 para 5.15 states that the council will protect  all open space from inappropriate development.
No plan is attached to the Report showing the extent of the (proposed) area for “Northwick Park Regeneration”. So it is not possible to see if this is restricted to the Northwick park Hospital Site allocation15.
There is  local concern about the possibility of our Park and its margins being designated a “regeneration zone”, allowing for higher density/high rise blocks - even though no-one can recall this potential allocation as having been mentioned in any general Local Plan consultation meetings.  

Question 1: could a plan of the boundaries of the Northwick Park Regeneration area the subject of the grant application be published? 
2  According to details on the HM Government website, to qualify for a grant being considered under this Housing Infrastructure  Marginal Viability Fund, evidence has to be given of: 
a) “demonstrable market failure “ (given as per the Technical guidance in https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-infrastructure-); and
b) “local support “  ( as per examples in the same paper -“extensive local consultation” );  and 
c) “alignment with the Local Plan” (ditto) ; and
d) “ imminent” provision of homes 

I have been trying through a FOI /EIA request to get details of the evidence or details of how the first three of these were demonstrated with the grant application. The Cabinet may like to note that the Information Commissioner is now dealing with my request  for that evidence or those details, after the Council failed to comply with a direction of the Commissioner to give me a response. 
So far, only a Sudbury Court Residents Association AGM in April 2017 - at which the presence of officers was requested by the Association - is cited but the Council officers appear to have made no notes of that presentation, and is apparently asking if the Association made any. 
Question 2: if these criteria are required to be satisfied for a grant application under the MVF - is the Cabinet satisfied that there is evidence/ details of the demonstration of demonstrable market failure, local support, alignment with the Local Plan and imminent provision of homes, and if so, could that evidence please be published generally and supplied to me and save the Information Commissioner’s Office time and effort?
3  The grant  application seems to be on the basis that the site is landlocked, although neither the University of Westminster nor the Hospital site is landlocked. The £9.9million grant is for infrastructure, including an access road.
By the same troubled FOIA/EIA request process, I have tried to ascertain where this access road might be. As above, my request is now with the Information Commissioner, having patiently waited since December 2017.

Question 3: please publish a simple indication of the rough alternative routes for the access road to the Northwick Park Regeneration area proposed as options in the viability studies (as these must be known for the MVF grant application) including confirming  if a route/routes  across any part of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) at Northwick Park is/are  under consideration.
4  Since naturally not all Cabinet members may be familiar with the precious asset to Brent that Northwick Park is - or its protective planning designations -  although I am sure they will have been properly briefed before this meeting , I am keen to know that they are aware, and that any public who may attend is aware of the position under planning.

Question 4:   does  item 8 take account of the extent of MOL and Open Space at Northwick Park, and of the other open space planning protection designations (including especially the SINC Grade 1 designation of Northwick Park and the Ducker Pool B103) - and the legal effect of  all those designations? Could the  officer please bring a copy of the Brent GIS plan showing this  with the full MOL/Open Space designations for the site (as I only have a screen shot of the same which is small scale)?

You may also be interested in the Ducker Pool SINC review of 2014 LINK

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Standing up for suburbia in Heather Park Drive

I have written before about the gradual encroachment of tall buildings on Brent's suburbia and another example is going before the next Planning Committee on August 15th. LINK

Heather Park Drive in Wembley-Alperton is suburban in character with industrial/office units on the railway sidings of the road.

Two 5 story blocks of flats (36 dwellings in all) are planned for Transputec House at 19 Heather Park Drive, HA0 1SS replacing the current 2 storey block.  The comparative size can be seen from the illustration above.

One resident (there are only two comments) writes on Brent's Planning Portal:
My main objection is to the height of the buildings which will be 5 stories instead of 2 as they are at present and will face & block out the light of the 2 storey maisonettes opposite them in Heather Park Drive. It will distort "air & light"& make ugly the essentially RESIDENTIAL street where great care was taken on the original 1930 maisonettes, including mine, to give SEPARATE own front door access to ALL dwellings incl.1st Floor (2nd Storey) maisonettes AS WELL as a small garden for each. This ensured both privacy and "green/garden like" suburban living for the Street's residents and decent space for the "flat" dwellers. I feel the developers, to maximise profit at the sacrifice of space & light for the old and new "flat" dwellers have pushed for ugly tower blocks where the new dwellers will be shoehorned into shared access boxes. The developers shd. should be limited to 2 storey maisonette high quality builds, each with own entrance from the street and a small garden in keeping with the surrounding residential buildings. This would CONTINUE down the road the 2 storey "upper & lower" maisonettes that at present end at the Transputec Car Park, i.e. 29-21 HPD embouching on to 19 HPD, Transputec Car Park & get rid of those ugly "sheds" of office buildings. Don't replace them with more "sheds" of poky flats!
A further issue is possible contamination of the land at Transputec House next to the railway sidings. LINK

Monday, 6 August 2018

Petition supporting Rastafarian bus driver forbidden to wear her colours

From Brent Trade Union Council,
Willesden Trades and Labour Hall,
375 High Road, Willesden,
London NW10 2JR

Marcia, a Metroline driver at the Perivale garage has been told that she is not allowed to wear a head covering in the colours of her Rastafarian belief (red, gold and green). 
We think this is discrimination- in the same way that we would if a Muslim woman driver was told she could not wear a head scarf. 
Marcia feels that for her to practice her religion, she needs to wear her colours-we support her in this choice. 
Multiculturalism is something to be celebrated, not hidden.
Marcia had to face a grievance meeting with the company, which she sadly lost. It is time for drivers who support her to take a stand. 
We call on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene to help Marcia.
Marcia should not be forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her job-that's discrimination. We support her and call for her immediate return to work. 
Marcia Carty needs the full support of all bus workers, trade unionists and progressive people in London and beyond. She is being victimised as a black Rastafarian woman whose only crime is to wear her colours.  She has worn them for years, but now she is being prevented from starting work each day with her colours. 
Download this petition and get it filled in by as many of your friends, union members or not, as possible. This clearly contravenes Unite’s Equalities policy and is possibly illegal.  Unite needs to take firm action here.
The petition text reads:

  • No to discrimination: Defend driver's right to wear her colours
  •  Marcia, a Metroline driver at the Perivale garage has been told that she is not allowed to wear a head covering in the colours of her. Rastafarian belief (red, gold and green). 
  • We think this is discrimination- in the same way that we would if a Muslim woman driver was told she could not wear a head scarf. 
  • Marcia feels that for her to practice her religion, she needs to wear her colours-we support her in this choice. 
  • Multiculturalism is something to be celebrated, not hidden.
  • Marcia had to face a grievance meeting with the company, which she sadly lost. It is time for drivers who support her to take a stand. 
  • We call on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene to help Marcia.
  • Marcia should not be forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her job-that's discrimination. We support her and call for her immediate return to work.

This is the petition CLICK HERE TO SIGN ON-LINE:

Useful update on the Brent Cross Cricklewood development & associated projects

It has been really hard to keep up with the changes of direction in this long running saga so many thanks to the NW2 Residents' Association for this post from their website LINK:

Brent Cross expansion on hold

Hammerson announced the expansion of Brent Cross shopping centre was on hold. It’s not obvious what this means for us, especially now that Brent Cross Cricklewood‘s been divided into three parts.

Brent Cross London

Brent Cross London is Hammerson’s part.
  • Expanding the shopping centre
  • Moving and expanding the bus station
  • A new bridge across the North Circular
  • Changing the ends of the existing bridge across the North Circular (Templehof Bridge)
  • Remodelling the roundabout at Staples Corner with fast slip roads around it
  • Straightening out the Cricklewood Broadway / Cricklewood Lane / Chichele Road junction
  • Straightening out the Cricklewood Lane / Claremont Road / Lichfield Road junction
  • Changing the junctions with the Hendon Way
  • Other changes to the roads and junctions
All this is now on hold. Barnet’s position is that it must be started before October 2019, because otherwise planning permission will expire. They still believe Hammerson sees the expansion of Brent Cross as a necessity. Hammerson talked about completion in 2023 rather than 2022 but the chief executive said “it would be wrong for me to give any firm guide.”

Brent Cross South

Brent Cross South is Argent Related’s part, south of the North Circular and east of the railway line.
  • Housing, in large apartment blocks
  • Offices
  • Shops, restaurants and other facilities
We’re told it’s going ahead. The first block has planning permission, Argent are finalising designs for two more and will soon put in planning applications for them. Some demolition and construction is scheduled for 2019. By 2022 there should be a thousand new homes and a few hundred thousand square feet of office space, plus shops, places to eat and other facilities.
Construction vehicles will normally go along Tilling Road. The first block is going to be for people moved out of Whitefield Estate, so at first there won’t be a big increase in population. On the other hand, we all know how easily the junctions clog up. Might Hammerson try to put off paying for work on the junctions and what would that do to the Brent Cross South development?

Brent Cross Thameslink

Brent Cross Thameslink is Barnet Council’s part, mainly the stretch between the Edgware Road and the railway line.
  • DB Cargo’s aggregate/spoil superhub, also known as the Rail Freight Facility, behind Lidl at 400 Edgware Road. This cleared the planning committee in February and permission’s now been granted. It might be in operation in 2019.
  • New sidings and rail buildings near the south end of Brent Terrace, for completion by 2020. Network Rail are already working on the site.
  • The Waste Transfer Station on Edgware Road, on the Serco site. Barnet are now consulting about their redesign of this. It might be built in 2019.
  • The new Thameslink station “Brent Cross West”, behind Argos, Curry’s and the old cinema, including a public pedestrian bridge across the railway, scheduled to open in 2022.
  • A road bridge across the railway, south-east of Geron Way, which last year was supposed “to open in 2021 rather than 2027” and this year “by 2030”.
We expect the superhub to go ahead. It never depended on Brent Cross Cricklewood for funding or to be profitable; only a tiny proportion of the 450 HGV movements a day will be to Brent Cross Cricklewood.
There’s an argument that the Waste Transfer Station will only be needed if the Thameslink station’s built, and maybe not even then. Barnet and North London Waste Authority still seem determined to have it. It will put 350 more HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) movements on the A5 every day, it requires new traffic lights on the Edgware Road, the old plans to make it more environmentally friendly with a “brown roof” have been scaled back and there are other changes, it’s attracted 447 online objections and will mainly affect Brent residents who of course have no say in appointing Barnet’s decision-makers, but we’ve seen how relaxed Barnet’s planning committee is about such considerations already.
If Hammerson didn’t go ahead with the expansion of Brent Cross, a big part of the justification for the station would go. It will be very expensive; the government will pay for part of it and the increase in business rates from Brent Cross is supposed to match another part. Barnet insist that it’s going ahead and will not be put on hold.

Other stuff

The outline planning permission area includes Donoghues on Claremont Road and Cricklewood Green on Cricklewood Lane. According to the planning statement for the Waste Transfer Station, “The PB Donoghue site is identified for redevelopment in Phase 4 of the BXC regeneration and is currently not anticipated to be redeveloped until after 2028.” Last year the Green was registered as an Asset of Community Value and before that councillors swore that it would not be developed as long as they were councillors, but a senior council officer tells us he still wants to develop it.
The B&Q buildings and car park are not part of Brent Cross Cricklewood, nor is 1-13 Cricklewood Lane (where the Co-op, Lucky 7 and other shops are), nor is the Galtymore site on the corner of Depot Approach and Cricklewood Broadway, opposite Beacon Bingo.

Children's holiday activities at Welsh Harp Centre

Join us at the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre woodland for:

9th Aug     Natural jewellery & art creation
16th Aug   Bushcraft tool use
23rd Aug   Fire making & outdoor cooking
30th Aug   Bow & arrow firing range
10am – 12pm each date

Address: Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre, Birchen Grove, NW9 8RY
Suitable for children aged 8 – 12yrs
Costs £3.50 per child
Booking essential – contact Edel on welshharpcentre@thames21.org.uk / 07734 871 728

Children and adults should wear comfortable outdoor clothing that may get dirty.
• Visits must only be cancelled in extenuating circumstances and Thames21 must be notified in advance.
• Thames21 reserves the right to cancel a visit if weather conditions are deemed unsafe or if adult to child ratio is not met.
An adult must attend & supervise participating children throughout all activities making sure that:
• Supervise children at all times and are responsible for their behaviour.
• Minimum ratio of 1 adult to 5 children
• Will need to provide any specific medication for children or have the child’s parent attend the visit.