Thursday 21 February 2013

Willesden Green Redevelopment approved

After a 3 hour meeting Brent Planning Committee tonight approved the Galliford Try/Linden Homes (and some would add Brent Council) planning application for the building of 94 one and two bedroomed flats and a Cultural Centre on the site of Willesden Green Library and its car park. 7 members voted for the application, 2 against and 1 abstained.

Members of the public were given extra time to speak and made the objections that by now will be familiar to most readers about loss of public space, smaller overall library space (though this was disputed by the planners and architect), lack of parking space, housing density and height and the future of the Brent Archive.

Cllr Hunter and Cllr Lesley Jones spoke in favour of the redevelopment while Cllr Carol Shaw  opposed and presented a list of 9 issues that needed to be addressed.

A major new issue was the failure of the Council to produce the public register of interests and make it available for inspecting at the meeting. This should have been done under section 12 of Brent's Planning Code of Practice. Philip Grant has argued in an e-mail to Joe Kwateng that as the overall head of the Department which includes Planning and Development, Andy Donald (Director of Regenration and Major Projects), had signed the Development Agreement between Brent Council and Galliford Try. As a result, all of Brent's Planning Officers have an 'involvement' with Andy Donald and should have declared a prejudicial interest.

Chris Walker, head of Planning, said that the processes were kept separate. However the issue remains that the register should have been available for inspection and wasn't made available. This may have potential legal repercussions.

Another new factor was a contribution by Sainsbury's supermarket who expressed concern that the redevelopment with new facilities but with no parking, would put a strain on their car park. They suggested that the agreement with Brent Council should be amended so that they could control the on-street rate for parking in their currently free car park and thus control its use.

Cllr Jim Moher, who was a substitute on the committee, and provided significant ballast, indicated that the Council would consider this.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean an end to the Green Party's campaign to save a car park and place for people to drink special brew?

Martin Francis said...

Well I suppose you could say that the committee voted for expensive flats where yuppies can drink claret while their cars nestle safely in an underground car park!

This was never a Green Party campaign but a very broad-based community campaign in which I played a minor role mainly on the basis of fighting for the Willesden Bookshop which got the briefest of mentions last night.

We lost the Bookshop and it is sorely missed. I hope that eventually it will come back to the High Road or somewhere else in Brent. Meanwhile the campaign did succeed in saving something of the Victorian Library but perhaps more importantly brought people in the area together in a common cause that I am sure will continue to have a positive impact on the area.

Anonymous said...

96 more flats. A few dozen more opposite (Spotted Dog) and a further 56 planned (demolishing The Queensbury). Willesden is being overdeveloped but the amenities are shrinking. Meanwhile Wembley gets new shops, restaurants and schools?

This town needs a plan.