Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Brent Council: Mystery of the missing minutes

From Brent Council website this morning
The missing minutes of the Planning Committee came up at Brent Cabinet last night in relation to the Council's proposed Pub Protection Policy.  The July 23rd Planning Committee was unusual in that it did not discuss individual planning applications but the principles behind council policies including the Development Management Plan and issues such as the amount of affordable housing and how to manage the process by which developers try to reduce the amount of affordable housing through viability assessments.

The Committee's views (which are statutorily independent of the Council itself) are clearly vital in informing the fraemwork within which planning decisions are made. An accurate record of the Planning Committee's discussions are absolutely essential.

However two months later the minutes have not been published and my questions about non-publication have not been answered. I suspect that they may have been lost - although there is probably a form of newspeak that would be used instead of that simple word.

The consequence was that when the Cabinet discussed the Development Management Plan yesterday even the documentation did not reflect what the Planning Committee had said. This was evident when the Pub Protection policy was discussed. The Council had been forwarded the model polict prdiced by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Council was supposed to discuss amendments to the Brent policy in the light of CAMRA's recommendations.

A member of the Queensbury campaign pointed out the the Cabinet that the policy brought to the Cabinet remained unchanged. I found out later that by noon yesterday CAMRA had received no communication from Brent Council. The dialogue with CAMRA seemed not to have taken place in the two months between the Planning Committee and the Cabinet.

However, Andy Donald, Director of  Rgeneration and Major Projects told the Cabinet that there were 'ongoing discussions' with CAMRA, which must have taken place between noon yesterday and 7pm! He said that there was space to add further to the policy in the future. Michael Pavey, deputy leader, commented that CAMRA was a reputable organisation  and that there would need to be good reasons given for any departure from their recoemmndations.

The issue of affordable housing and viability assessments is clearly extremely important during the current housing crisis and was discussed in some depth at the Planning Committee on July 23rd. Donald commented last night that there was no reason why developers' viability assessments should not be made publicly available, although they were technically complex, but warends that publication was likely to be opposed by developers. The aim of the Council was that their view on what constituted a legitimate viability assessment would be clear and consistent.

Some of the main issues that were discussed at the July 23rd Planning Committee were covered on Wembley Matters at the time. The report can be found HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that both Andy Donald and Mo Butt are opposed to anything which looks like progressive politics.

Brent has an opportunity to be as radical as Islington with regard to housing - it is not taking that opportunity.

No ifs, no Butts. Mo must go.