Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Brent Civic Centre 'vanity' road cracking up

Former Liberal Democrat councillor and council leader, Paul Lorber, has written to Brent Council drawing attention to the deterioration in the paved road outside the £100,000,000 Brent Civic Centre:
I note that the very expensive section of the 'paved' road on the approach to and outside the Civic Centre is crumbling away and in a very poor state.

Clearly the type of paved surface was totally unsuitable in a busy location where there is substantial and on going builder lorries traffic.

Can you confirm who advised on the design, type of materials used and the cost of the road. Can you then investigate whether the contractors responsible can be brought back to upgrade the road at their expense.

Finally in view if the fact that local residents are having asphalt imposed on them ( in place if perfectly good and repairable) paving slabs (Medway Gardens at a cost of £172,000 and others) can you confirm if the useless modular road blocks in the area outside of the Civic Centre will now be ripped up and also replaced with asphalt and at what cost.
Brent Council Highways and Infrastructure Service responded:
The choice of materials specified for the raised table was discussed with the manufacturer prior to construction. The manufacturer confirmed that the materials specified were suitable for the level of forecast traffic. This included very deep (150mm)  black granite setts on the main part of the table to ensure maximum durability. The specification for the road construction of the table was based on a drawing provided by URS Infrastructure and Environment UK Limited. URS were the engineering consultants working at the time with the Civic Centre architects and had been tasked with preparing the detailed design of the raised table which was then taken forward by council officers.  The road construction included the provision of a new concrete slab, the depth of which was determined by standard CBR testing carried out by the Council’s contractor ConwayAecom. A high strength mortar was also specified to provide maximum support and strength to the paved carriageway surface.

We are aware of the  condition of the paved section of the road outside the civic centre, which in some areas has got worse over the winter. We are commissioning  investigations, including a Ground Penetrating Radar Survey, to ascertain the cause or causes of the problem prior to formulating solutions for permanent repairs. Whether the problem turns out to be a construction or a design problem, or a mixture of both,  we will be talking to our contractor about how to put it right. However under the contract, the “defects period” is 12 months and as the paved area construction was completed in 2013 , the “contractual guarantee” period for the work has long since expired. Nevertheless and depending on what we find, we are expecting the contractor to be accountable  for any issues for which they are responsible.

Until the investigations are complete and the solutions formulated we are not in a position to estimate the cost of the repairs.
Lorber replied:
Can you please confirm the cost of the surveys/investigations you refer to and who will pay for them.
If any remedial repairs have been carried since 2013 please advise on the total cost too.
My primary concerns are simple.
1. The road outside the Civic Centre was not built to a standard construction using normal materials. It was a special and a very expensive road.
2. The road surface has clearly failed and will be very expensive to repair and to maintain in the future.
3. Why is the road simply not dug up and replaced with normal asphalt/tarmac material?
4. I ask because ripping up paving slabs and replacing them with asphalt is now the recommended officer solution to pavement issues in residential streets - as evidenced by our continuing exchanges about Medway Gardens in Sudbury.
5. If the solution - taken in cost grounds (which I have challenged) is being forced through in Medway Gardens (despite local residents opposition) why is the same 'cost effective' solution not being pursued in the case of the road outside the Civic Centre?
It was a 'vanity' project and a very expensive road in the first place but since taxpayers money is at stake why are the same policies and approach being pursued in this case as are being forced through against the wishes of local people in other areas?
Perhaps the Chief Executive as Head of Service will respond to this apparent inconsistency and issue appropriate instruction.


  1. You've got to laugh! Well at least I'm laughing :-)

  2. Well this was all done when the idea that it and the whole area was going to be a nice pedestrian to the fore and green and foot-friendly area aimed at pedestrians and just cyclists. Didn't that idea soon go for a burton.

    1. It sounds like its going to be the "wrong type of leaves on the line guvnor" type of saga. The original design was provably planned for more light traffic than the veryweighty, multiple wheeledclorries and concretex delivery lorries that now proliferate along this road.

  3. Still, have to look on the bright side. As any soixante-huitards at the Lycee might tell you, when the people of Brent finally decide they've had enough of Butt and his People's Palace, those lumps of paving will be so much easier to pick up and hurl than if they were still firmly fixed to the road surface.

    Mike Hine

    1. Funnily enough that did cross my mind as I was taking the photographs - spirit of '68.

  4. Alison Hopkins6 April 2017 at 10:50

    The hologram doesn't work any more, either.

  5. Is that the much vaunted one in the reception to Registration?