Saturday 30 April 2016

After the 26 storey 'Twin Towers' a 28 storey block planned for Wembley

Readers with long memories will recall that the views of the new 'iconic' Wembley Stadium were to be protected but the Stadium is fast being hidden in a cluster of tall buildings.

This latest application going to Planning Committee on May 9th  is at the corner of Fulton Road and Albion Way, replacing Apex House and Albion House.

As with the 'Twin Towers' planners suggest that 'good design' makes up for the height the new Apex House, at 28 storeys two storeys higher than the tallest of the Twin Towers.

The new argument for this building and the replacement for Mahatma Gandhi House is that they fit in with the cluster of tall buildings around the stadium'

Apex House will be more private student accommodation with 558 rooms sleeping 580 students.

The lack of daylight is excused on the basis that their stay will be only temporary and 'consequently the impact of the proposal on the occupants of the building is considered to be acceptable.

This illustration of the development looking along Olympic Way tucks the new building  away behind the current 'cluster'.

The planners say LINK
The subject site is located within an area where tall buildings have been developed, and the proposal would add to the cluster effect of these tall buildings. Notwithstanding this, the site is relatively small and the proposed building height is taller than the surrounding context. The massing of the building, with a tower element and two plinths is supported as it ensures the building relates well to the surrounding context. The two plinths relate directly to the adjacent development and help to create an urban block. The materials have been chosen to reflect and compliment those on the surrounding buildings whilst the mass is concentrated at the corner of Fulton Road and Albion Way, terminating key views along Fulton Road. 
The buildings are close to the existing Danes Court flats which are situated in gardens close to the railway line.  They are beginning to be dwarfed by Quintain's redevelopment of the Wembley Stadium area.

Just down the High Road from the Twin Towers, close to Wembley Stadium station, plans have been submitted for Mahatma Gandhi House, the former Brent Council housing offices.
The building that will replace Mahatma Gandhi House
By comparison to Apex House, this  is a dinky 21 storeys high and has received objections similar to those for the Twin Towers.  A mixture of requested planning changes and viability assessments has chased the affordable housing element in the development down to 20.2% LINK
The applicant has now offered to provide 20.2% affordable housing (25 affordable rented and 15 shared ownership units) on a 63:37 tenure split on the site (accounting for 40 units) and this is the final proposal presented to Planning Committee. BPS have confirmed the revised FVA and sensitivity analysis supports this proposal. Officers recommend that this represents the maximum amount of affordable housing the scheme can reasonably and viable deliver, at a broadly policy compliant affordable housing tenure ratio, and I (sic) therefore supported subject to an appropriate s106 financial review mechanism to be triggered post implementation of the scheme, such that a contribution towards offsite affordable housing provision is made should market conditions and viability improve 

Objections are similar to those raised in the case of the 'Twin Towers':
             The proposed development will be very high indeed and will be visible from Dennis Avenue, proving that the proposed development is very tall, and not in keep with the other buildings in the area (21-storeys is too tall for the area but 11-storeys is acceptable and in keep with local surroundings)
             There are already a number of new recent developments, and new proposed ones which are planning in 'dwarfing' the current area and making it congested and claustrophobic.
             Privacy from bathroom window will be highly compromised as this will be in the line of view to the proposed development.
             Infrastructure around the area cannot cope - roads are already very busy and roads are suffering with large potholes.
             Proposed 202 residential units is far too much, coupled with new proposed developments in the area will have a massive affect on the already busting point of the local hospitals, schools and emergency services.
             Query whether our rainwater and sewage systems cope with such large proposed developments
             The area is already over developed and more pending with other developments such are SW Lands, Brent House, Cottrell House etc. Where will the residents park - Mostyn, Dennis and Linden Avenues are already full, and feel that a knock-on effect will leave the proposed development residents parking in the above roads.
             Traffic - there is already a major traffic issue in the area, and Wembley Stadium and the surrounding area are now encouraging the public to bring cars into the area. Previously when the Stadium was being built, we as residents were told that there is only going to be limited parking available for Stadium and SSE Area visitors as we want them to come by public transport. This has gone out of the window.
Public buses are already clogging up the roads, and with more residents, there will be a need for more public transport leading to a complete standstill of traffic. Buses are also terminating at Wembley Hill road (at the end of Linden Avenue). For cars trying to come out of Linden Avenue and take either a left or right turn at the junction is asking for a death wish as you cannot see past the terminated buses and cars are coming very fast. This should not be a termination point for buses
There were comments in favour:
The plans will be good for the area
             It will look nice
             Better than what is currently there
             Closer to shops
             Creating jobs for young people
             Better opportunities for young people
             Add something interesting in this up and coming area
             Good location - near stadium and the station
              Brings revenue into the Borough

Tokyngton and Wembley Central ward councillors have submitted no comments and neither has Wembley Hill Residents Association.
The Planning Committee will be a busy one as it is also considering the school extension and housing that led to the demolition of the Stonebridge Adventure Playground. LINK

Meanwhile residents of Roe Green Village are continuing to battle Powerleague Lucuzade's development on the Kingsbury High School.  They are at a loss to know why Wembley National Stadium, some distance from Roe Green, are statutory consultees for the planning application. Are the days of the temporary Powerleague pitches between the Stadium and Brent Civic Centre numbered?

A Planning Committee was cancelled last week, perhaps as a result of the disarray in the planning department following the loss of key staff LINK but there will be an additional Planning Committee a two days after this one on May 11th  (no agenda available yet). This could signal an attempt to get things through before the Labour Group's May AGM when committeee personnel and Lead Member may change.


Jaine Lunn said...

In response to questions raised by Roe Green Village residents. At the Brent Connects Forum for Wembley held at Patidar House early part of this year. Quintain gave a presentation on the future plans for their Wembley City Developments next stages. The lady stated that the area that stretches from the Childrens Adventure Playground all the way to the Powerleague Pitches are to be removed and replaced with 750,000 sq ft of Office Space in buildings of approximately 20 storeys in height. The Powerleague pitches would be no more and the Childrens play area relocated in a 7 acre Pocket Park in the midst of another 4,000 homes somewhere in the area what is now the retail park when Harveys etc is and that also the Stadium would lose 160 spaces, as fewer coaches park at Wembley.

Also Quintain mentioned development of a further 850 homes on the South West Lands Site. This is the area currently around the Wembley Stadium Station on the opposite side to the LDO and Car Park.

Alison Hopkins said...

Very convenient. Two PLanning Committee meetings within two days of each other - this places a massive burden on the members. As you say, a few days before the Labour AGM when Butt is likely to get the boot in favour of Pavey, sources tell me. Also, Lorraine Langham goes imminently.

As to the committee, I've a lot of time for Sarah Marquis, who is thorough and objective. I am deeply concerned that members are being coerced into both opinions and how they vote. (That too has been raised with me.)

In the past, Planning has managed to stay both expert and objective and I do know that it was not subject to undue influence. Indeed, administrations of all politics were very careful not to break both law and constitution.

Now, I do not believe that to be the case. Despite the best efforts of the Chair, decisions are made that are, frankly, perverse.

As an example, a recent planning application by BHP itself. Vehemently opposed by residents for good sound reasons, and rejected, rightly, the first time round in January 2015. One Dollis Hill councillor stated he supported it well before the meeting, so was blocked from attending. All three knew well, having attended public meetings, just what the strngth of feeling was.

Seoncd time round? Marquis still objective and helpful, including on site visits. The same major failings existed in the second application and had not been addressed. Yet, despite this, and the Chair's doubts, it got passed. And what's worse, another Dollis Hill councillor spoke in FAVOUR despite knowing full well how people felt.

I know that the then MD and so-called development director of BHP were spitting tacks when it got bounced first time. The development director was consistently deeply rude to residents. Those same residents have been treated with contempt for years by BHP management, who may now be regretting it, given other legal action to be taken by them.

So, who has most to gain by influencing the committee? Those for whom yet another spurious press release is a chance to "shine", perhaps? Another chance to make claims that they're solving the housing crisis single handedly, having in the meantime, overseen a Housing Department that isn't fit for purpose and an ALMO - BHP - in special measures?

God help us if PLannning Enforcement goes the same way.

Anonymous said...

It is totally unreasonable to expect Planning Committee to be able consider properly two full agendas, involving major proposed developments, within the space of 48 hours!

Rumour has it that the Chair of Planning Committee, Sarah Marquis, objected to having two meetings so close together, but that the Leader of the Council went behind her back and persuaded some of the other Committee members to agree to it.

Anonymous said...

Typical Butt movements