Friday 9 January 2015

Another high-rise development for Wembley but where is the truly affordable housing?

From the planning document
Shortly after my article about the high rise 20 storey development behind the Brent Civic Centre LINK Quintain have put in their planning application (14/4931) for the South West Lands. This is the area along the Chiltern line going south from Wembley Stadium station which is crossed by White Horse Bridge (below) Full documentation for the Planning Application can be found HERE

New developments in white
This fills in the space currently occupied by shrubbery. The application leaves some options which will probably be decided by Quintain on grounds of viability (or better known as profit) in negotiation with Brent Council.

Some of the blocks are 19 storeys high, just one storey below the blocks planned behind the Civic Centre and three or so higher than the Orbis Hotel next to the White Horse Bridge.

Someone recently asked why, having demolished the tower blocks of Chalkhill and Stonebridge, the Council were now supporting the building of them in Wembley?

This is an artist's impression of the impact on the skyline:

Summary of Planning Application
A hybrid planning application, for the redevelopment of the site to provide seven mixed use buildings up to 19 storeys in height accommodating: outline planning permission for up to a total of 75,000sqm to 85,000sqm mixed floor space including up to 67,000sqm of C3 residential accommodation (approximately 725 units); 8,000sqm to 14,000sqm for additional C3 residential accommodation,
C1 hotel and/or sui generis student accommodation (an additional approximate 125 residential units; or 200-250 bed hotel; or approximate 500 student units; or approximate 35 residential units and 200 bed hotel); 1,500sqm to 3,000sqm for Classes B1/A1/A2/A3/A4/D1/D2; together with associated open space and landscaping; car parking, cycle storage, pedestrian, cycle and vehicle access; associated highway works; improvements to rear access to Neeld Parade; and associated infrastructure full planning permission for a basement beneath Plots SW03 - SW05 to accommodate 284 car parking spaces and 19 motor cycle spaces; Building 3A within Plot SW03 to accommodate 183 residential units and 368 cycle spaces at ground floor; and associated infrastructure, landscaping and open space
In the consultation last year, which got a low number of response, out of the 37 general comments the largest number on a single topic was nine (from Consultation summary):

Nine comments express ed the view that affordable housing/family housing should form part of the development and be delivered quickly.

Nine comments related to specific suggestions for provision of infrastructure/amenities as part of the development. These suggestions included schools, GPs and provision for youth, the elderly and disabled people.
So are the consultees going to get what they requested?  The application gives two scenarios for the amount and type of housing:

In Scenario 1 the proportion of social rented housing is 2.2% and in Scenario 2 5%. This is against Brent's 50% target for affordable accommodation. As usual the definition of affordable is unclear but for the developer seems to include the Intermediate category and is hedged by caveats..
At present, the proportion of the affordable units is not known as this will be subject to negotiations, planning priorities and viability. Therefore, for the purposes of this assessment, a range of affordable housing provision has been considered to ensure the impacts at both ends of the spectrum are identified and,where necessary, mitigated. The range assessed is between 10% (Scenario 1) and 25% (Scenario 2) by unit. In the event that affordable housing provision falls outside these bounds, a review will be undertaken to identify any new impacts or significant changes to the impacts identified as part of this assessment.
Given the amount of housing Quintain's assessment of the number of children in the development seems low. The number of 3 bedroomed properties, a priority for many Brent families is low. Perhaps the developers are assuming most of the residents with be Dinkies (Double Income No Kids).

From this prediction they suggest there is already enough secondary school places if Gateway and  Gladstone Free Schools open (a gamble?)  and the development will have a 'negligible effect'  locally. However there they may be the need for some Community Infrastructure Levy contribution to primary school places as the development is deemed to have a 'minor adverse effect'. With GP's lists at capacity locally it also suggests a CiL contribution to health provision may be necessary.

It is worth reminding ourselves what was promised in terms of social provision for local people at the beginning of the Quintain development, aside from affordable housing:

Anticipated infrastructure is expected to include (inter alia):
· 2 x 2 forms of entry primary school; a new combined primary (2FE) and secondary school (6FE) on the Wembley Park site;

· Extensions to existing local schools; nursery places;

· At least 2.4ha of new public open space comprising of a new park (1.2ha min) and 3 pocket parks/squares (0.4ha each);

·Improvements to the quality and accessibility of existing open spaces;

·A new community swimming pool; indoor and outdoor sports facilities;

·Play areas; new health facilities with space for 14 GPs and 11 new dentists;

and  new multi-use community facilities.
I recommend that among the hundreds of documents you read the Socio-Economic Chapter of the application which covers some of these issues. LINK

Among the positives about the development are the provision of green space and play space for children although we will need to see details about public accessibility and quality. Some of the buildings will have green roofs.

However once again we have to ask, where is the benefit for the ordinary people of Wembley/Brent and what will the Council do to increase the proportion of truly affordable housing for local people?


Anonymous said...

For approximately 20 years Brent residents campaigned to rid Chalkhill and Stonebridge estates of the high rise blocks of flats, for many they were just "No Go Areas". History has proved to us that housing people in such dense environments does nothing to promote their well being, sense of community and good neighbours in fact it has the opposite effect. People feel alone, isolated, seldom know or even recognise their neighbours and people who live close to them. These estates were eventually demolished and re-built with low rise no more than 4 floors which has resulted in much more cohesive community. Evidently the planners/developers have learnt nothing from this, and are hell bent on recreating all that was bad about these estates in Wembley. A decision no doubt they will come to regret in 10 years time by which it will be too late. But let us hope that these properties will all be bought by oversea's investors off plan and who have no wish to live in them or rent them out, which is happening with these kind of developments all over London.

Anonymous said...

When will this go before the planning committee?

Martin Francis said...

The Planning Portal says decision 'no earlier than February 5th 2015'. The first Planning Committee scheduled after that is February 11th and another on February 18th. I would think this application would take up most, if not all, of one meeting.

Anonymous said...

there are so many plans and docs attached to this proposal! it'll take weeks just to look through them all

Anonymous said...

But children & adults are often not allowed to kick their footballs or play sport in these sorts of green spaces