Friday 22 July 2016

UPDATE: Should the Council reveal more about proposed Ujima House acquisition?

Ujima House, recently taken off the market by vendors
Plan of the present site

Monday's Brent Cabinet is due to approve the purchase of Ujima House on Wembley High Road, as one of a number of acquisitions to implement the Wembley Housing Zone. No details are available as yet for their plans for the site although a high rise development, in the light of the Twin Towers, seems possible.

The report LINK states:
The Wembley Housing Zone was designated by the GLA last year with the aim to accelerate housing and affordable housing development and to promote regeneration. In July 2015 Cabinet approved the approach which is to bring forward a programme of acquisition and development of a number of sites between Wembley town centre and the regeneration underway on the Stadium lands, including the council-owned site due to be released through the construction of the new Ark Elvin Academy. Cabinet also approved entering into a legal agreement with the GLA to secure their funding support and this has been concluded.
Discussions are underway with the owners of a number of identified sites in order to establish the development programme. This report seeks the approval of Cabinet to the terms for the acquisition of a first of these identified sites, that of Ujima House and its car park in order to progress the implementation of the Wembley Housing Zone and agreement to enter into a contract with the Greater London Authority to fund the acquisition of the property.
 Importantly officers say that redevelopment will be in the form of a partnership with the Council:
--> The Ujima site is suitable for development on its own but discussions are continuing with neighbouring land-owners and if these are successful it is intended that this site would form part of a larger programme of redevelopment. It is expected that this programme will be taken forward by the council in partnership with a development partner and a further report will be made to Cabinet on the proposed delivery approach and the selection of the development partner Details regarding the financial aspects of the deal are not available to the public. The Council, as usual cites Para 3, Part 1, Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 claiming that the public interest in disclosing the information is out-weighed by the public interest in disclosing it.
By Virtue of Paragraph 3 

Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)

Information is not exempt if it is required to be registered under-
  • The Companies Act 1985
  • The Friendly Societies Act 1974
  • The Friendly Societies Act 1992
  • The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978
  • The Building Societies Act 1986 (recorded in the public file of any building society, within the meaning of the Act)
  • The Charities Act 1993
Information is exempt to the extent that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
However the Act goes on to state:
Information is not exempt if it relates to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to Regulation 3 of the Town & Country Planning General Regulations 1992(a).
 If the Council is going to act as a redevelopment partner surely the above caveat applies? I asked Brent Council and got this reponse:
The qualification you refer to applies only when the council is exercising its planning functions, i.e. when it is acting in its capacity as local planning authority and deciding whether or not to grant itself planning permission. Whereas the purpose of Cabinet report you refer to is to seek approval to enter into a contract to purchase land. If the purchase is approved and an application for planning permission is submitted, it will of course be dealt with by the Planning Committee as an entirely separate matter and in accordance with planning law and policy and the information access rules you refer to.


Anonymous said...

How many more high rise developments can Wembley take? It appears that Brent Council wants to turn Wembley into one huge concrete dormitory with no "community". What an abysmal state of affairs.

Jaine Lunn said...

Why o Why do they continue to treat the electorate as "Twats" - definition a person who is stupid or obnoxious. I for one will not just roll over on this one, Philip Grant, Martin, Mike Hine, get onboard and lets put this nonsense at the top of our agenda and get to the bottom of what is really going on at Brent Council. Can I hear the rustling of "brown envelopes sliding under the table? I think so.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where the other "identified sites" for development are located? I definitely agree with Jaine Lunn's final comment too. There certainly appears to be something rotten in the State of Brent.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Mayor of London could look into this issue?!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It definitely looks as we are still in the time of completely corrupt Brent. So fellahs there's a lot more digging to be done. Let's get going and shake the truth out.

Philip Grant said...

Does the term 'development partner' ring any bells?

Senior Council Officers in its Regeneration Department sold Cabinet the Willesden Green Library Centre scheme as a great idea to carry out with a development partner, Galliford Try. In return for building Brent a new "cultural centre" on a small part of the site, Galliford Try were given 72% of the land, and allowed to build 95 flats on it.

Regeneration managed to persuade Planning Committee that Galliford Try should not have to provide any affordable housing on the site, which enabled Brent's development partner to sell its entire gated private development [built on land that Willesden and Brent Council's had acquired over the years for public community use] off-plan to property investors in South-East Asia.

I hope that the Council's semi-secret plans for Wembley will not see a repeat of similar mistakes.


Jaine Lunn said...

Thank you for the tip off Martin, but I fear this is already a done deal. In this location former Brent Annexe a 1960s office block has been redeveloped into Jenga Court with 25 very small flats some barely meeting 40 sq metres, and they have been given planning permission to put 2 further storeys on top creating another 10+ units. Lanmor House again an old 60s office block was given permission under permitted development to convert to 34 flats again with 2 extra storeys. Neither of these two properties offer any Affordable Housing, No social housing, no Amenity or Storage Space, insufficient parking for the amount of flats. Along with the new developments which have been already granted permission Brent House, 250+ flats for housing approx. 1,000 people. Chesterfield House soon to start the Twin Towers again 200+ flats. Both these properties have limited parking and amenity space. Wembley Central is already the most densely populated Ward in Brent. Where are all these residents going to fit, we are already gridlocked at peak times, have very full buses and all current residents are waiting at least 2/3 weeks to see a Doctor! Forget about trying to get your children in a local school? This is sheer madness.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Brent Council have now served notice to office occupants of Ujima House and they should vacate the building by the latest of 19th October 2017 after they purchased the building and became it's landlord recently. This shall have a significant negative impact upon the start up businesses and charitable organisations whom where reliant upon their office spaces to operate under a previous mutral agreement between the old landlords and Starting Out Charity - Kindness Offensive which they could of easily continued to honour. However, there could be one slight twist to this as sources have revealed that a "selective" company business whom currently occupies the building has possibly done an underhanded, closed door deal to remain with the council that will undoubtedly financial benefit their own business but, put out to pasture all of those whom they wanted out of the picture and would possibly challenge this under the old agreement had with Kindness Offensive. As Wembley Matters stands by what is rightful for the community, it will be most interesting and worthwhile them perhaps looking into come after the 19th October 2017 what actually happens within Ujima House???