Sunday, 6 April 2014

What do Brent councillors think about deferral of Kensal Rise planning application?

A lively and at times passionate debate is taking place on these pages over the redevelopment of the Kensal Rise building.

The article has attracted more comments than  almost any other on this blog and I am posting this to invite readers who may have missed it to join in.

In particular I am inviting councillors and council election candidates to respond to what is clearly an important local matter.

One major theme is whether the planning application should be deferred until after police have completed their investigation into the alleged fraudulent emails submitted in support of the developer Andrew Gillick's previous planning application. LINK

Other matters include whether the space offered to the trustees of Friends of Kensal Rise Library for a community library is sufficient, and how robust that agreement is.

The original article by the trustees of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and subsequent comments can be seen HERE

Since this was written responses have started coming in via Twitter. I will update here:

  1. . we have a statutory responsibility to look at application. 1000's apps in Brent. Do we check the person or application

    isn't ignoring the suspicion over fraudulent emails at very least morally wrong and at worst, collusion?
  2. Both person& app.need flagging up.Planning cmtee statutorily independent&can vote to defer hearing>
  3. 18m
    . Planning cmtee should defer decision on this application until investigation into fraud allegations are completed.

@WembleyMatters 1/2 Strongly agree planning app should be deferred until outcome of investigation. Result might invalidate, for example. Alison Hopkins
@WembleyMatters 2/2 FKRL know if space enough. I want VERY watertight legal guarantees. I've bad experiences with developers (Brent X!


Anonymous said...

Difficult to know whether those comments are three or four people or 50 actual people.
Most comments are anonymous.
Dan Smith

Anonymous said...

Fully support a suspension planning application pending outcome of fraud investigation.

Allegations have been made and it is reported that Brent have confirmed it appears a number of bogus representations have been previously issued in support of the previous planning applications.

Until this matter has been fully investigated with a full report, suspension of planning application is the only way this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of the community at large who stand to loose substantial D1 community space in the new development with the developer potentially profiteering at the expense to the local community.

Particularly in view that allegations have been of fraud against the developer it would be wholly inappropriate for the developer to be granted planning permission under such circumstances and suspending such a planning decision should not unduly inconvenience the developer.

Anonymous said...

If we have clarity from our Councillors this would help people decide who people should cast their vote for in May.

Do Councillors support upholding justice by accepting need on balance for a suspension of planning application ?

The community deserves a response.

Alex Colas said...

I think it's for people of Kensal Rise to decide whether the FKRL agreement is the best they could get. From my own experience in Willesden Green battles, one can't be too cautious about developers'
pledges unless they're legally binding.
I agree a suspension of this planning application until the fraud investigation has reached a final conclusion is essential for the credibility of the planning process and the democratic transparency of the Borough. When campaigning to save the Willesden Green Library, we uncovered similar dodgy support letters favouring developers:

Anonymous said...

What rubbish from Councillor Butt say We have to consider application. This is regardless of the fact that it is alleged the developer attempted to commit fraud in pushing for a positive outcome in his previous application.

This has nothing to do with the normal character of a person.

Surely attempting to influence a planning decision by making what is alleged as false representation is akin to bribing.

It beggars belief that the lead member Councillor Butt equates what is being alleged to someone that might have a minor conviction and therefore the Council can't suspend the planning application.

Under normally circumstances a persons character should not be considered by planning committee. However if the lead member can't even see the injustice in this very specific instance, perhaps the best solution is for the community to publically dump him in May elections as Councillor and as a leader if he can't see that the community want transparency and accountability from the very system that is designed to protect the public interest.

Surely the community wants representatives who can see that it is in the public interest to take decisions that at times might not be popular for developers or people in positions of influence.

Current case in point Maria Miller expense fiddle and we all just sit around accepting that those in a position of power and influence can game the system for their own financial gain.



Anonymous said...

You get my vote in May in publically declaring you support a suspension of planning application

Anonymous said...

Another school library to be closed.

Parents at Woodfield school on Friday last day school term that Brent have decided to close School library to increase school class size.

Yet again Brent not consulting with local community

This will be another election issue closing school libraries on top of the libraries already closed.

The ironic thing is one we would have thought Christine Gilbert would be standing up and shouting out load that we can't continue to close local resources simply because of Brents poor planning

Anonymous said...

Democratically elected Council and its decisions to be decided by tweets and social media.
How many people in Brent are disenfranchised by this?
How democratic. Bit like the fraudulent emails.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps social media is more informative way rather than behind closed doors.

Martin Francis said...

An interesting point but the decision is not being made by readers of this blog. What they are doing is asking their councillors what they think about an issue - something that can be done via old fashioned letter writing, telephone calls, chats at councillor surgeries, emails and now Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Letters and old style telephone calls does not seem to work because only those who open letters get to view the contents.

Social media gets these issues into the open. Other countries are starting to ban use social media when those in power who could do something don't like it.

Lets hope this country continues to allow freedom of speech.

Although it seems a few are trying to silence the critiques

Ossian said...

I despair of the whole thing. Brent Labour is hellbent on going ahead with their sell-offs. You elect people to take care of local resources and they sell them off. They are not interested in arguments, rights and wrongs. They hold the power and they are having a larf. Eff 'em.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree

Labour now only stand for big business.

Surely from the Council coffers they could have even scrounged around for £100k to buy the building.

This is only 1/2 what Brent chief exec earns and could have for public duty easily forgone. Not as if the chief is short of money unlike the rest of us

Anonymous said...

In the cases of Kensal Rise and Cricklewood library buildings, they didn't "sell-off" their freeholds, they did something far worse: gave them away for nothing!

Anonymous said...

Attempting to influence a planning decision is a criminal offence, as FKRL has itself previously pointed out. Why it remains silent on deferring the planning application hearing until after the police have reported is disconcerting, particularly if, as reported, the agreement it's reached with Andrew Gillick is for a 'period of negotiation' as the 'preferred tenant', but offers no binding commitment. It seems that all the cards are firmly in the developer's hands.

Anonymous said...

"..Bit like fraudulent emails...": Is that why some totalitarian regimes around the world don't like views expressed - anonymously or not - by those they govern, on blogs such as this: they are worried about accessibility to the internet for all and the consequent democratic deficit it creates by skewing opinions unevenly, rather than the content of the views expressed exposing the regime? Gosh, so I've completely misunderstood North Korea all these years!

Anonymous said...

Surely it can't be a criminal offence to request the appropriate authorities to suspend the planning decision until after the allegations into fraud are full investigated.

Just shows the real criminals and fraudsters are always one step ahead and are never prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

I think you've misunderstood my above post. The criminal offence is attempting to sway the outcome of the planning committee towards an application, whether in support or against, not asking the planners to suspend a hearing until after the police have reported. Indeed, the latter is obviously the correct thing to do. And Cllr Butt's plying of the planning officers/legal line that 'the Council has a statutory responsibility to consider all planning applications that are submitted' is regrettable, to say the least. Indeed, the longer elected members remain silent on this matter, the more the issue is going to fester. It's to be hoped that planning committee exercise their statutory independence and vote to defer the hearing when it comes before them.

Anonymous said...

'Behind closed doors' - anonymity - what is the difference?
Not just asking their councillors what they think about an issue - bullying and coercion remain the same however you name it - and perhaps you have misunderstood North Korea all these years.

Eileen said...

Attempting to equate a citizens' blog with the 'fraudulent emails' affair is unfortunate - at best (comment at 17.32 above). In practice the commentator has made the case for an even bigger D1 space in Kensal Rise Library, replete with internet access so that the social media she or he despises as 'undemocratic' can be be accessed easily. Every cloud...

Anonymous said...

Anon 23:38

Please be clear do you think the police should first report on the alleged fraud before planning committee issue a decision ?

If you think there is no justification for such a suspension please enlighten us as to why you think the planning application should be bulldozed through as that is what appears to be happening.

Anonymous said...

A clear reasoned statement from councillors on deferral is needed if the absurd possibility of planning consent being granted before the police have reported is to be avoided.

This can only encourage democratic debate - might even persuade some commentators to reveal their identities. The posts above - 6 April 17.32 and 22.38 - are unpleasant in tone, appearing to equate discussion of deferral with 'bullying and coercion'. Perhaps some respondents are hiding behind Anonymous precisely because they fear being bulled themselves? What would be helpful is if those who object to deferral would give their reasons, as someone else has already asked - they can do so anonymously. That would be grassroots' democracy, as so far, on this and the previous blog, it's only the supporters of deferral who have spoken out.

Anonymous said...

Brent Lib Dems would close all the libraries

Anonymous said...

I highly suspect that if the committee decides to defer the developer will decide to APPEAL TO THE PLANNING INSPECTOR.

If that happens then we are totally at the mercy of the appeal process.

I think our chances of getting what we want are far stronger with the councillors looking after us than not.... no matter what you think of them.

Outside Brent in appeal we will be on very thin ice the developer could even go for an entirely apartment scheme.

Deferral is the last thing we should want.

Anonymous said...

Why do you say deferral is the last thing we want ?

The Planning Inspectorste might actually agree that All Souls College contract with Gillick had legal basis to pre determine the minimum D1 floor area when the current D1 floor area is over 6500 sq and should have said so in the contract not 1500sqf as specified in the contract of sale.

This whole mess has more questions than answers everyday.

Anonymous said...

And what about the police inquiry? That, after all, is the reason deferral is being proposed. Are you saying that Brent's planning committee members/elected representatives should ignore it, that it's unimportant? As for 'getting what we want' - if you're speaking on behalf of FKRL - how does ignoring the police inquiry square with the campaign's previous clear statement that attempting to sway the outcome of a planning application hearing is a criminal offence?

Anonymous said...

There are more unanswered questions and the community deserves needs reassurance the planning process is not subject toI fraud.

A deferral seems to those who have spoken out the best and fairest way for this mess to be resolved. For those who have spoken out for a deferral there is no financial gain apart from seeing that the community at large is adequately compensated for loss of D1 community space.

The current deal seems.very much in favour of the developer

Anonymous said...

Sorry to my post above should read planning Inspectorate might find All Souls College had NO legal basis to pre define the minimum new D1 floor area of 1500 sqf as current floor area is over 6500 sqf. This should have been up to Brent planning committee to define any reduction of D1 floor area not All Souls College

Anonymous said...

So you're opposed to deferral because any planning inspector doing a proper job will agree that was absolutely the correct decision for Brent's planning committee to have made in the face of an unresolved police inquiry in to what appears like an attempt to commit a criminal offence, namely sway the outcome of a planning application? Sorry, this is Alice in Wonder Land, the world turned upside down.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid comment from a rather p'd off Brent Labour supporter - what proof of that do you have?

Anonymous said...

It seems like there is real divide in community.

Surely it would be better for Councillors to come clean as to what as elected representatives they view as their political stand point.

At least everyone would know who's side they are on Justice or further inequality ignoring the need in this very particularly planning application to proceed with caution and suspend planning application.

Simply for leader to take line nothing they can do is simply not good enough

Anonymous said...

Anon 23:38

"'Behind closed doors' - anonymity - what is the difference?:

No one here is under threat of physical harm - which is the case in N.Korea. I suspect accusations of "bullying and coercion" are diversions on your part: If issues raised on blogs such as this conflict with your thinking, then it's "bullying and coercion" to use social media; if they agree with your thinking, then it's campaigning to increase public awareness.

Posters on here who oppose Gillick's planning application and question the circumstances of his present submission are asking questions which are legitimate, and if all they have is the "threat" of withdrawing political support if their questions are ignored, then that too is legitimate.

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to Keep Calm and Use Punctuation.

Martin Francis said...

Just a reminder about the conditions for publishing comments on Wembley Matters. (see sidebar at top right of the page)

Thanks, Martin

Anonymous said...

I asked a friend who's an architect to review the application.

His advice is if this went to appeal he's 90 percent sure it will be given planning.

He spent days going through the application and that's his professional opinion.

There's big pressure on London to create housing sure look at the hospitals and green belt we are losing.

However is anyone chasing the police to speed up their enquiries? I cannot believe it's taking this long unless it's not be pursued....

Anonymous said...

My father is an architect and his view is that planning would be refused on grounds of inadequate D1 space.

Priority for D1 is schools and nurseries under new planning framework so very unlikely according to my father to be given planning approval under current proposal.

We can all speculate but as guidelines of New Planning Framework just come in 6 April 2014 nobody knows exactly what planners will in practice decide.

Anonymous said...

From Brent advertised notice 7 April 2014 signed by Stephen Weeks

All objections to redevelopment of former Kensal rise library should be submitted by 28 April 2014 to Brent planning

Anonymous said...

Given the tight timescale from closing date of objections, 28 April 2014 and for a hearing prior to 22 May elections and the political nature of this planning application will a hearing be tabled prior to 22 May ?

If planning application is considered after May 22 election, but before the alleged fraud investigation is concluded, constituents need to know from both elected representatives and those seeking election what they would do if they were given such an opportunity. Would elected representatives vote to suspend planning application until such time as the fraud investigation has concluded ?

Anonymous said...

it is not possible to suspend.....

on what grounds? No one has even given exact details of the crime committed.

Great and the developer sues the council...and we are all out of pocket.

the backbone of our constitution is innocent until proven guilty....

So there is nothing for the councillors to declare ahead of the planning meeting.

Just give us our library and stop trying to undo all our hard work.

Anonymous said...

While I think everyone respects the library cause.

However this goes much deeper in respect to TRUST in the whole planning system and for that matter trust in our elected representatives.

This Trust has been shaken to it's core, not just over this planning application and alleged fraud, but with current Maria Miller expense scandal, bankers rigging the system for their own financial gain, Energy firms threatening turn out the lights if they don't get their way and the list goes on.

When as a society do we say enough is enough, the poor are paying an incredibly high price and are bring left to fend for themselves while those in position of power look on and try and grab as much as they can before the pitchforks are drawn against them.

Simply giving in at this stage means the poor will always remain poor unless society makes a break and does what is the just thing to do. Ie suspend planning application pending outcome of fraud investigation.

Given the lengthy battle waged over 4 years waiting for the fraud investigation to complete would not be such a life time wait would it ?

Anonymous said...

So far I have not viewed any valid arguments as to why the planning application should not be suspended.

It seems FKRL are extremely upset sections of the Brent community think it only fair and reasonable that the planning application be suspended.

If events are not correct, but did not FKRL and or resident supporters of FKRL instigate the fraud investigation ?

Something does not sound right after all the hoopla about the alleged fraud !

The community needs to get to the bottom of all this for everyone's peace of mind.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone has been bought to keep lid on the fraud investigation!

Anonymous said...

Well-said! Agree.

Anonymous said...

Anon 15:58

You say gives us back our library and yet the current agreement seems shaky at best.

Unless there is a strong contract the developer can easily break the contract.

There was a legal expert on the FKRL board and surprised if this legal expert considers current agreement strong contract

Anonymous said...

The matter of 'innocent until proven guilty' has been addressed on the FKRL guest blog (2 April 23.05) - asking for deferral of planning hearing isn't a presumption of (anyone's) guilt, nor is it asking for the planning application to be thrown out before it's heard, simply that the police (CID) be allowed to do their job. Isn't seeking justice part of society's backbone also? And why would the developer sue the council? What grounds would he have?

Here is what FKRL had to say in its February campaign update: 'Fraudulent emails: Great news that the Leader of Brent Council Cllr Muhammed Butt is demanding that the police reconsider their decision not to proceed with their investigation into the fraudulent use of emails to support the [first] planning application of the developer'.

It was subsequently confirmed that the police had indeed decided to proceed with an inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps different circumstances, but can't help but see the stark similarities between the current issues surrounding Maria Miller expense scandal and the old library alleged fraud investigation.

We are all supposed to turn a blind eye and accept sorry, little slap on the wrist and then head back in the trough.

Not on your life. I am sick of the spivs getting one over on us and then kicking us at every chance.

Anonymous said...

Seems like 2 of the Labour candidates for Kensal Green, Dan Filson and Matt Kelcher don't see any reason for the decision on the planning application to be deferred because of fraud and the third, current councillor, Claudia Hector can't even be bothered to reply. Very interesting. There is still time to get your nomination papers in if any Kensal Risers want to stand as independents

Anonymous said...

Does FKRL know anything about the level of supports and objections that went in for the original application...... I wonder. Is there something rotten in the state of Denmark?

Happened in Willesden as well... a coincidence

Call me a skeptic but is a nice way of trying to discredit the applicant and his application.

Doesn't look like it is working and he is just plodding on.

Good on you Gillick. FKRL does not represent everyone and some of us feel the improvements in Brent Libraries have been beneficial.

The councilors have done a good job with the available resources....

Anonymous said...

We need some good independents to give the current lot of good for nothing Councillors a good kick.

Anonymous said...

Why then are FKRL so annoyed that the community want answers to fraud investigation before the planning committee issue their decision ?

They are rather silent on their motives to discontinue fraud investigation.

Anonymous said...

I would not go as far as give Councillors credit but yes decisions are difficult when there is only finite money to go around.

Library campaign have also done an admiral job. Supporters were led to believe supporting library campaign would secure a large community space to be enjoyed by all community groups.

This is now not the case as the agreed space is now so small and restrictive that it can't be used by the wider community.

So sad as it could have been much better

Anonymous said...

Hush Cllr Powney

Anonymous said...

Agreed, particularly given this robust statement given to the Brent & Kilburn Times, 21 November 2013 21 Nov 2013:

'Margaret Bailey, chair of FKRL, said: “We applaud the action of our council and it’s willingness to take seriously this attempt to subvert local democracy and mislead the public.

“Our community is strongly against this development for the library building and these fraudulent emails of support for the development were an attempt to divide and denigrate this community.

“Fraud is illegal and we support a thorough investigation by the police.”'

Anonymous said...

Yes the alternative put up taxes and we all will be worse off.

Life's little basics.

Balance the Books!

Anonymous said...

How about big corporates sitting on almost a trillion excess money, plus the Bankers, Top earners etc paying more into the pot and then we would be all better off, without even putting up taxes ?

Just a thought

Perhaps Gillick might like to become a philanthropist and simply kindly Gift the building back to Brent ?

Wishful Thinking ?

Why has everyone become so greedy they need millions and millions in bonuses etc while we all sit and starve.

Food banks in higher demand than ever.

The whole script seems to resemble "Animal Farm"

Anonymous said...

Alas, Brent councillors appear woefully silent on the issue of deferral. Has there been an unofficial whipping of Labour-party members, bringing everyone into line in the run-up to the local elections?