Sunday 11 August 2013

More student tower blocks for North End Road, Wembley

Residents of North End Road, and especially those in  Danes Court, will have a new towering neighbour if plans for Karma House are approved by Brent Planning Committee on August 21st.

The three storey office block will be replaced by a building of part 9, 14, 17 and 19 storeys comprising 450 private student rooms. The development is very close to the existing 17 storey Victoria Hall student block and the 20 storey mixed hotel/residential development on the former Shubette House site.

The site was subject to a previous planning application in which on the 28th July 2005 Brent's planning committee resolved to grant outline planning permission for the demolition of the existing Karma House  building and the erection of a building ranging in height for 8 to 17 storeyscomprising a 120-bedroom hotel on the 1st -  5th floors, 108 timeshare or apartment hotel lets on 6th - 15th floors (84 studios, 24 one-bedroom), a public viewing gallery and restaurant on the 16th floor, one basementlevel of 40 parking spaces and associated facilities. The s106 agreement was signed and outline permission formally granted on the 17th April 2008. The application reference was 05/0626.

The report notes that an application was made to extend the time frame for the earlier application in June and it was hoped to consider both the applications at the same time. However, 'as further information is required' this will now not be considered until September.

The report does not say why, in this case, the student block application was not considered until then, One local resident's consultation comment on the current plan said:
Any further proposed development via increased density should positively impact the lives of existing residents and empower them.The previous scheme (hotel,restaurant, viewing gallery) would invite and attract residents and the public and would be useful to them while another exclusive student development would not. These student developments only serve to make money for their developers at a complete loss of amenity to existing residents.
Some of the residents say that the construction of what in effect is a 'student village' close to their homes will change the nature of a quiet family residential area while others claim that the Victoria Hall development has resulted in  no tangible benefits for local people.

Officers recommending approval of the scheme note that the development, coming on top of the 2,600 plus student rooms  completed or in process, will nonetheless not breach the 20% limit the Council put on the student proportion of new residents. However, they insert the caveat that it may be breached in the short-term if this accommodation comes on stream before other developments are completed.

The report claims that the protected views of Wembley Stadium from Barn Hill will not be detrimentally affected by the development and say that 'natural surveillance'  makes 24 hour security on the block unnecessary.

Full report HERE

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