Thursday 10 March 2016

Residents enraged as Planning Committee approves controversial applications

Increase in schoool size to more than 1,000 pupils

Doubled in size to more than 840 pupils
Temporary  (2 year) 4 storey school

Retrospective permission for 2.4m fence aroud public space

361 dwelling tower blocks next to Civic Centre/Olympic Way

Last night's Planning Committee had a ridiculously heavy agenda with Chair Cllr Marquis, like a teacher  bravely concealing her irritation with councillors (pupils) who at times were sleepy and clearly wishing they were somewhere else, and at other times making rambling contributions way off the point,  struggled to make progress. Meanwhile the clock ticked away.

As always residents attending their first Planning Committee because of a local issue, this time the Uxendon Manor and Byron Court school expansions,  were enraged when they thought their concerns were being ignored. There were cries of 'Is this democracy?', 'Are we in North Korea?'. 'You are a disgrace.'

Byron Court  took up most time  (see posting below).  Cllr Keith Perrin made a presentation on behalf of residents. When Cllr Marquis asked if he had been approached by anyone about the application he answered 'between 1,000 and 2,000 residents'.  About 1,400 of those who had put their addresses on a joint letter about the application had not been contacted by the Council about the officer's report on the planning application. He derided the plans to use the Northwick Park car park for parents describing its impracticalities and producing the numbers to back this up. At one point the officer's response made him put his head in his hands in despair. His mood wasn't  helped when Cllr Marquis failed to give  committee members a chance to ask him questions about his presentation although this was remedied later.

Several members of the Committee declared that they had received phone calls about the application from Barry Gardiner MP that afternoon. The application was narrowly approved. I made it four for, 3 against and 1 abstention.  Loose ends will be tied up by officers regarding some of the conditions requested by Cllr Perrin. Members of the audience were reprimanded by Cllr Marquis when they scoffed in disbelief at Byron Court's Executive (she insisted on the title) Head Teacher's claim that the school travel plan was working well and that the revised plan, when the school had over a thousand primary pupils, would be equally effective.

The increased traffic arising from school expansion was also a major concern of residents around Uxendon Manor in an area with poor public transport links and questions were asked for each application regarding the need for additional school places in that particular area. The response was far from clear. In addition there were questions about overflowing sewers at Uxendon voiced by John Poole a long-time resident that were shrugged off by the development agent.

Cllr John Warren spoke for residents about the  Marylebone Boys School temporary building in Brondesbury Park and he also raised the issue of flawed school travel plans and estimates of impact on public transport.  He raised the issue of the height of the building (4 storeys) and its design being out of character with the neighbourhood as well as the noise with an increase from160 to 480 pupils on the site.

Marylebone Boys School application to fence in public space around its existing building in the former Kilburn branch of the College of North west London was approved without any representations.

It wasn't until about 10.30pm that the innocuous sounding 'Yellow Car Park' application was heard.  Actually a huge development next to the Civic Centre with 361 rabbit hutch style  dwellings and retail and community space the only query  from members was about the possible provision of a nursery in one of the units. There were no public representations and a short presentation from Quintain. It went through in about 10 minutes in contrast to the earlier item.

There will be  134 one bedroomd, 109 2 bedroomed and 52 3 bedroomed flats at market rents. 8 one bedroomed, 10 2 bedroomed and 21 3 bedroomed at social rent.  12 one bedroomed, 9 two bedroomed and 6 3 bedroomed at 'intermediate' which the report states will be 'affordable'.


Jaine Lunn said...

Having only been to Byron Primary to collect a friends child once, several years ago, which I hasten to add was an absolute nightmare trying to negotiate a parking space and then an enormous amount of manouvering later to get out of the area, I find it impossible to believe that "the situation has improved and the travel plans work well" It should clearly be a case of "Should have gone to Specsavers" and that Video footage should have been shown to detail the actuale situation. Brent Council need to stop kidding the electorate to thinking that they actually consider objections. The system by which objections are logged and actually investigated needs a complete overhaul.

Alison Hopkins said...

I don't believe the "social rent" claim for the Yellow Car Park rabbit hutches.

An application was made to build three houses on a local BHP estate. It was stated VERY clearly that these would be social rents. The application was bounced once by Planning - Ms Marquis was very effective on that occasion. However, the seoond application was passed, despite none of the concerns being answered and the fact that major flaws still existed. I do wonder if there had been influence.

Anyhow. Earlier this week, there was a meeting with BHP about the three houses. By some magical transformation, they've now become AFFORDABLE housing, rather than social. So, 80 percent of local market rates. That's going to mean about £1800 a month, which means the tenants will almost certainly need housing benefit support, which means Brent are paying THEMSELVES.

Does any of this make any sense?

Anonymous said...

Right from the outset, the proposals to expand Byron Court Primary School appeared to be a done deal. The Planners followed the required public consultancy processes by ticking the correct boxes to say that each process had been followed but that didn't appear to include understanding and giving due consideration to opposition arguments produced during the exercise.
The timing of Ecological surveys during the winter period is a case in point. It could be argued that this was designed to avoid finding evidence which would delay the development process. The protected mammal species of key concern would have been hibernating when the single daytime survey was carried out during mid winter and there would have been little visible evidence to indicate their existence.
The Resident's Association carried out detailed traffic surveys of their own, twice each day over a two week period, with further video and photographic surveys prepared over many weeks. This provided ample proof that massive problems existed at the present time and would be exacerbated when and if the school was expanded from three Forms of Entry to Five. Our detailed evidence, presented in a large Traffic Survey Report appears to have been given brief consideration and ignored. Councillor Perrin expanded on this evidence but even his superb analysis was brushed aside on the basis that things would somehow mysteriously improve after expansion; this when every attempt to solve current problems of illegal parking, excessive congestion, street conflicts, etc, have failed over many years.
After this mass of evidence and information being issued to the Planners and summarised again at the Planning Meeting, how could a voting member of the Committee fail to have a view, either for or against, and then abstain? Either the person concerned hadn't grasped the detail, hadn't read the reports, or had insufficient time to weigh up the mass of evidence presented. If the latter was the case, it proves that insufficient time had been allocated to this far reaching application in a rush to meet a building deadline. The decision was a total travesty.