Monday, 16 August 2010

It's YOUR Wembley - Have your YOUR say

Trees on the famous  processional Olympic Way may be removed

By the time I visited on the afternoon of the last day only 120-150 people had visited last month's exhibition about the next phase of the Wembley Regeneration. This is a very small number when you think that this is the most important regeneration project taking place in Wembley and one of the biggest and most expensive in whole of London. However it was enough for Quintain, the developers, to conclude that 'a good number of people visited the exhibition over the course of six days and that the overwhelming majority of people welcomed the plans'. They will be submitting a planning application to Brent Council later this summer.

Quintain have recovered from a shaky period in  2008 when they reduced their Wembley project staff from 28 to 13. They recently agreed the sale of Pier Walk, the Transport for London building on the Greenwich Peninsula for £97m.

The exhibition was full of the pastel/line drawing artist's impressions we have seen before and it was hard to really envisage what is intended.  However I did dig out a few facts:
  • Section 106 (funds from the developer to Brent Council ) trigger points in the development have not yet been reached despite the fact that Wembley City is up and running
  • £9m towards schools in Wembley is listed as a future commitment - with a school places shortage we need the money now . £3.5m for road and junction improvements, £2.5m for education and training and nearly £2m for improved bus services are also some time in the 'future'
  • The mature trees along Olympic Way on the Curry's Superstore side will have to be removed as the new buildings will abut the roadway. Quintain said said they would be replaced by trees of similar size in Arena Square.
  • There are plans to run buses along the currently mainly pedestrian Olympic Way for the first time
  • Despite earlier emphasis on a relatively traffic free development there are plans for 800 parking spaces in a multi-storey car park for the new shopping street and another 500 for the new homes
  • The much heralded 'London Designer Outlet' will, according to staff at the exhibition, specialise in end of range and end of season bargains - not quite the high quality shopping experience first mooted
  • Quintain did not take into account, and appeared to know little about, the proposed North West London Light Railway  which suggest a link to Wembley Stadium
To be fair there are plans for affordable new homes and  they will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. Completed commercial properties will be built to BREEAM Excellent standard and Combined Heat and Power is 'planned in linked clusters with the ability to link into a district wide energy centre in the future'. Policy on renewables even vaguer, 'Solar panels or other renewables could be included on some buildings and green and brown roofs will encourage diversity'. Quintain argue that local people will use Wembley shops in the new development and this will reduce car use as presently drive outside the area to shop. They claim that their designs will favour pedestrians over cars.

Throughout Quintain and Brent Council have argued that the redevelopment will bring benefits to local people and that the stadium area will become a local resources as well as something for visitors. The low numbers attending the exhibition doesn't suggest crowds of Brent citizens are leaping around with enthusiasm. So let's ask, "What's in it for Brent?'

Quintain would argue:
  • 2,500 new jobs in the new hotels, shops and restaurants and 400 during construction
  • Up to(my emphasis) 1,300 new private and affordable homes with a range of 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments (we will need details of the proportion that will be 'affordable')
  • A new Civic Centre (Brent Greens remain sceptical of its benefits)
  • A new local open space around the Civic Centre 'green, accessible for all, and planted with trees..'
  • A new shopping street with around 30 new shops with a large 'anchor' store
  • A range of new cafes, coffee shops and restaurants
  • Affordable work spaces, including some suitable for the creative industries
  • Nine Screen cinema to be opened by September 2013
  • A new community pool and leisure facility on the site of Dexion House
Quintain's planning  application to Brent Council will be an 'Outline' application which will establish uses, layouts, heights and access principles, with 'Reserved Matters' applications to follow with the detailed designs before construction begins. There will be consultation on this and it is important that residents respond.  Too often the public respond on general principles at the detail stage, only to be told 'that has already been dealt within the 'Outline' application'.

Quintain will be circulating 60,000 homes and businesses with a Newsletter about the scheme.You can see an on-line version of the exhibition and booklet HERE and you can e-mail your view to or ring Quintain's Wembley team on 020 7478 9277

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