Thursday, 16 August 2018

Is this Big Brother Brent - or just plain sensible? You decide...

Consigned to the past?

Brent Council is consulting on the imposition of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in many areas of Brent.

They explain:

We are consulting residents of Brent on introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to help the police and Council tackle enviro crime and anti-social behaviour [in]our parks and open spaces. We seek to ensure that the law-abiding majority can use and enjoy public spaces, safe from anti-social behaviour. The Orders can be enforced by fixed penalty notices or prosecution, by police or Council officers. Current policy • A maximum fine for breach of Brent’s current park byelaws is £20 and there has been no enforcement undertaken since it was enacted. • A maximum fine for Breach of a PSPO is £100 and there is flexibility under the legislation to prosecute persistent offenders at Court, where they could be fined a maximum of £1000 pounds. Under the legislation consent would have to be given by private land owners should the Council decide to implement an order which covers such an area. Intended outcome: If a PSPO is introduced, those in breach face an instant £100 fixed penalty fine or possible criminal prosecution. If introduced, the PSPO will be enforced by a partnership of the police and council.

As always the question immediately arises as to whether the police or council have the resources or time  to enforce such rules as well as whether people could be caught by them through the lack of amenities such as public toilets in parks or through indulging in innocent activities with children such as feeding birds. Some proposals will be uncontroversial in principle but the method of enforcement, as highlighted by former councillor John Duffy over Fixed Penalty Notices for littering LINK, could aggravate matters. Given the increase in rough sleeping as a result of homelessness enforcement of 4) could result in harassment of those already vulnerable and in need.

These are the proposed  prohibited ‘anti-social’ activities:
1.     The use of illegal drugs and psychoactive substances (formerly known as legal highs) 

2.     Alcohol use 

3.     Littering of cigarettes, bottles, cans, food etc. 

4.     Erecting or occupying any shelter, sleeping apparatus, or caravan with the intention of 
residing in it without the written approval of the London Borough of Brent 

5.     Urinating or defecating 

6.     Feeding of vermin (pigeons and other species of birds, rats etc.) 

7.     Driving unauthorised motor vehicles without the consent of the London Borough of Brent 

8.     Defacing or damaging fixtures or furniture 

9.     Losing control of any dogs 

10. Walking more than 4 dogs at a time 

11. Allowing dogs access into specified “dog free“ areas 

12. The flying of drones without the consent of the London Borough of Brent. 

13. Launching of sky (Chinese) lanterns on council land 

Within the restricted area described above, the following activities are required :-
14.       In the event that a dog defecates in the restricted area, the person responsible for the dog at the time, must remove the faeces immediately
15.       Dogs are required to be kept on a lead when in or near any of the flower gardens within any restricted area

In the light of  grassland fires during the recent very dry spell it is interesting that barbecues are not mentioned. 

The parks and open spaces listed are:

Abbey Estate Open Space, Alperton Sports Ground, Barham Park, Barn Hill, Basing Hill, Brampton Grove, Bramshill Road, Brent River Park, Brentfield Park, Brondesbury Park, Butlers Green, Caffrey Gardens, Cambridge Square and Gardens, Canal Walk, Chalkhill Linear Park, Chalkhill Open Space, Chalkhill Park, Chapter Road, Chelmsford Square, Church End, Church Lane Recreation Ground, Crouch Road, Crown Walk, De Haviland Road, Denzil Road, Elmwood Park, Eton Grove, Evefield Open Space, Franklyn Road, Fryent Country Park, Furness Road, GEC Sports Ground (off Preston Road), Gibbons Recreation Ground, Gladstone Park, Goldsmith Lane, Grove Park, Hazel Road, Heather Park, John Billam Sports Ground, Kensal Green , Kenton Grange, King Edward VII Park, Wembley ,Kimberley Road, Kingsbury Green, Learie Constantine open space, Leybourne Road, Lindsay Park, Longstone Avenue, Mapesbury Dell, Maybank, Mayo Road, Meadow Garth, Milton Avenue, Mount Pleasant, Neasden Recreation Ground, Neasden Open Space, Northwick Park, One Tree Hill Recreation Ground, Pilgrims Way (Part of Fryent/Barnhill), Quainton Street ,Preston Park, Rainbow Park, , Roe End Shrubbery, Roe Green Park, Roe Green Village, Roundwood Park, Roundwood Road, Sherrens Farm, Shorts Croft Corner, Silver Jubilee Park, South Kilburn Open Space (Carlton Vale), Springfield Open Space, St Davids Close, St Mary’s Road (Challenge Close), St Raphaels Open Space, Stonebridge Recreation Ground, Streatley Road Pocket Park, Sudbury Court (East Lane /Vale Farm), Tenterden Recreation Ground, The Compass, The Shrine Open Space, Tiverton Playing Field, Tokyngton Recreation Ground(This is Brent River Park) Tubbs Road Pocket Park, Vale Farm Sports Ground, Village Way, Villiers Road, Welsh Harp Open Space, Willesden Sports Ground (King Edward VII recreation ground Willesden), Wilson Drive, Woodcock Park, Woodhouse Urban Park, Wybourne Way. 

You can complete the consultation HERE






6-8pm  DOORS OPEN 5:15

Forty Avenue, Wembley Park, Middlesex HA9 9PE



Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Children's bushcraft activities at Welsh Harp Centre Thursday

The school holidays are not over yet and there is still time for children to join in nature activities at the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre in Kingsbury:

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 / 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


Is this Brent's biggest fly-tip?

A quiet cul-de-sac in Wembley had this builder's rubble dumped this morning. Nobody has come forward as yet who witnessed the actual dumping but a large full  tipper truck was seen turning in Saltcroft Close and heading back towards the dump site at the junction of Summers Close and Pilgrims Way.  The tipping would have made a considerable noise.

Brent Council has said that clearing the rubble is the responsibility of Brent Housing Management as it falls within the boundary of the council estate on Pilgrims Way.

The word 'fly-tip' does not seem adequate to describe this small mountain of concrete that will take considerable work to clear.

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; 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