Friday 30 June 2017

Reminder: Clean Air in Brent Public Meeting July 6th

Air pollution campaign group, Clean Air for Brent, and Brent Council are holding a public meeting, “The Air We Breathe: how pollution is affecting us and what we can do about it”, on Thursday 6th July at 7-9pm at Brent Civic Centre in Wembley.

Speakers include world-renowned health expert Prof. Sir Michael Marmot (UCL & Harvard) , Simon Birkett, Director of Clean Air in London, Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Brent Council, and Elliot Treharne, Air Quality Manager, GLA. Hywel Lloyd of think tank IPPR will be chairing an interactive panel discussion.

Air pollution contributes to poor health and is responsible for premature death. In 2016 there were 1,810 deaths on Great Britain's roads, yet nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, with 112 early deaths in Brent in 2010. It is linked with cancer, strokes, heart disease and respiratory problems. The main pollutants are nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, particularly from diesel vehicles, being most harmful. The principal source of air pollution in Brent is road traffic, though emissions from heating systems also contribute.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Brent Council said:
This event will raise the profile of air pollution across Brent and the serious impact it has on all of our lives. It's great to see residents and community groups coming together to improve things, in partnership with the Council. We can all make small changes by choosing to walk, cycle, turn our engines off and choose not to buy diesel vehicles; and by working together I believe we can make a real difference to the quality of air we breathe in Brent.
Fiona Mulaisho from Clean Air for Brent added:
Air pollution knows no boundaries, and it is not halted by tawdry promises. No one is safe from it, regardless of where you live, work and play. With thousands of unnecessary deaths and life threatening illnesses caused every year, that's why it's important for people to get involved in the fight against air pollution, - today's deadly public health crisis. This meeting will be a chance to question the experts, learn what our authorities are doing locally about air pollution, and find out what we can all do.
Clean Air for Brent is a coalition of residents' associations and community groups focused on raising awareness and changing behaviours to improve air quality in Brent for all our health.

The event is taking place on Thursday 6th July, at 7-9pm at the Conference Hall, Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. The Civic Centre is five minutes walk from Wembley Park tube station. Please use public transport.

This is a free event – all are welcome to attend. Doors open from 6.30pm for light refreshments and stalls. The meeting starts at 7pm.

Gladstone Parade planning decision: This is NOT democracy

The Planning Committee in action

Guest blog by Alison Hopkins

This is a rant, and it’s long.

It’s about Gladstone Parade, the loss of our shops and the fact that the planning committee on Brent Council is a total waste of space. It never used to be like that: back in the day, the committee was impartial regardless of political composition and also had long serving members who actually understood planning matters, with an excellent Chair. Now, it changes membership constantly, and is, frankly dominated by the leader of the Council and his agenda. That agenda is the wholesale drive to build more and more flats all over Brent, just like Barnet. Now, this would not be so bad if any of those flats were real council housing, not the nonsense called affordable housing. It would also not be so bad if Brent’s Planning officers didn’t simply give in on all fronts to developers who then promptly advertise and sell said flats overseas. Fat lot of good that is to anyone here.

So, the Parade. Built with the houses in the 1920s. The grocer corner shop was there when I was a baby and long before. Hairdresser: fifty odd years. Chip shop – thirty, with a butcher before. Pub, a couple of decades. Two shops have been empty on and off for a while, and that, in my view, was deliberate. The freehold of the land has changed hands a fair bit, and the leases of the shops had lapsed.

The shopkeepers had of course been paying rent and ALL of them had been pushing hard for lease renewals for a long time. There have also been rumours flying of redevelopment for a fair while, but nothing concrete. The first real intimation was when the chip shop owner phoned me in February with the bad news that he’d had a notification letter from Brent Planning. He, and all the rest, had heard NOTHING from the freeholder of the Parade and knew nothing until the letter from Brent arrived. I’d had conversations with other shopkeepers before that and had been keeping an eye on planning applications on Brent’s website. I actually check those all the time for Dollis Hill anyway – I did it as a councillor and I think it’s good practice, as well as keeping one’s ear to the ground.

Having read the application I went and spoke to the shopkeepers, who were obviously devastated. My view from the outset, as someone who knows the area and who we are, was that this was a totally flawed application which seriously disadvantaged us. I tried contacting the developer, who was essentially – how can I put this – mendacious. I know how Brent’s consultation works. A letter to a very few neighbouring houses and a notice on a lamppost. So, I hand delivered about a thousand letters, emailed eight hundred people, and Facebooked this, and we also then went and door knocked.

In all that, I found ONE person in favour. Oh, and we put a petition in the chip shop.

We know what happened next. Lengthy detailed and well thought out objections on line. The petition in the fish shop, got over 650 signatures from all over Dollis Hill and beyond – there were more, but those were too late. A whole bunch more signatures from the hand delivered letters, which also resulted in more on line objections. There were, in the end, five pages of those! Other local people emailed and wrote in directly. Brent Planning, by the way, got those numbers wrong in the officer’s report.

On Monday, the leader of the council was supposed to come and visit the Parade to “listen to locals”, but didn’t – some kind of family emergency. This meeting was also not publicised anywhere, of course. The three councillors finally showed up, having been less than keen to be engaged up until literally the last minute. They have, as has been published here, finally replied to some emails but I am convinced their replies were not written by them. One of the councillors said they’d been talking to Planning “for some months” about the development – a shame they’d not talked to residents, isn’t it.

That same councillor also said that local people seemed less than keen on a CPZ, which may be because of Brent’s outrageous charges. One of the other councillors knew about the issues with bus drivers parking locally, but had no idea who the manager of the bus station is, or the steps they’ve taken to try and fix this. I know what those steps are, because I’ve MET the man. That councillor also claims people from the Hassop Road garages in Cricklewood are parking on our roads, but I doubt that – and I’ve had no complaints about it.


Wednesday was the Planning Committee meeting. The officer’s report had already recommended passing the application as did what’s called their supplementary report – that’s what gets written after they visited the site. That site visit was last Saturday and I went along. You aren’t supposed try to nobble the committee members but I did manage to point out some of the problems, as did the shopkeepers.

So, the meeting. Some fool had decided to hold it on the same night as 100,000 people were watching Adele at the Stadium. We also weren’t heard till almost ten, as there were two highly contentious other applications before us.

Despite that, all the shopkeepers and the pub owner showed up, as did many locals, who managed to sit it out. Two locals spoke in objection, including the fact that they have right of way and use of the garages – this may yet present a problem for the developer, I hope. I spoke – or rather, I ranted.

You’re only allowed two minutes which is absurd and hardly enough, but so be it. The presentation by the planning officers lied about discussion with the shop owners and presented the development in a manner that really showed how much this was already decided. The planning officer also said you could walk to Cricklewood Station in twelve minutes – has he actually TRIED that? It’s a good half hour. He made reference to the supposed new Brent Cross station which is imaginary and to a possible CPZ, also imaginary. The real bombshell was that Brent had been talking to the developers for over a YEAR. That’s BEFORE the freehold got sold to them! The leader of Brent Council would have known about this and so, I think, would the Dollis Hill councillors.

To repeat: it’s supposed to be councillors who run things, but this whole sad sorry mess makes it clear that it’s officers, the head of so called Regeneration and the Leader who hold the power. There are a handful of councillors who dare fight back and they get both abused and side-lined.

Another local made an excellent speech about the poor living quality of the flats, the air pollution on the Edgware Road, their unsuitability for families and the parking issues. He was speaking on behalf of a statutory consultee, the Dollis Hill Residents Association, who had also NOT been properly consulted.

Anyhow, I raised two of the many issues, namely, the loss of the shops and the parking and traffic issues. The committee ignored the latter. In his summing up after, the Planning Officer blithely said that yes, he agreed the Brent Cross station would be delayed but that didn’t matter, as the transport assessment was based on what is there now. He also, equally blithely, said that the solution would be to effectively impose controlled parking in our roads. Whether that’s an answer or not, it ignores the real issues around the flats, namely high density and access. I am convinced Brent wants to impose controlled parking all over the borough: it’s a great money spinner for them. I also ranted about the flats across the road being marketed to China, and that there’s no guarantee the affordable housing level will be maintained, or that the flats won’t lie empty.

I was questioned by some of the committee members. One stated that all the shops were run down and shut, that they’d not been there long and that Lidl had taken business from them. Given that they’re open and doing well, and that Lidl has been there for what, ten years? – this is nonsense. I had pushed for regeneration, and another councillor asked which companies might do that, so I quoted several. Another asked about the petition and looked through the fish shop one. But it was all rather half hearted.

Cllr Dixon spoke. The three of them seemed, on MONDAY, to have finally got off the fence, but it all felt very half-hearted to me. They had still lodged not one objection on line. She didn’t address planning issues, which is actually what you need to do when addressing the committee, but rather talked about the community round the Parade. The gist of it was that she had only discovered in the past few weeks how strong the community is and had been unaware of how thriving. She did pick up on the low level of affordable housing, but didn’t seem aware of the difference between that and social housing – that’s council housing, to you and me. She also said that she’d been backing the plans up until she became aware of this strength of community. She did query the lack of consultation: in my view, one of the functions of a councillor is to tell people what’s going on, and they had all known about this for many months, supposedly.

The Planning Officer summed up. He again claimed the shop keepers were in discussion with the developers, to which they shouted back that they were not. He claimed consultation had been adequate: a few letters, the newspaper notice, the notice on the lamppost. He said that this was proven by the volume of objections, to which I shouted back that hand delivering a thousand letters was probably more of a reason. He acknowledged my remark about Brent Cross and the station, and called it irrelevant, then stated AGAIN that it’s only a twelve minute walk to Cricklewood Station.

This was roundly jeered at. He talked about how important it is for Brent to hit housing targets and that the developers would have to give £400,000 to Brent for “local projects”. There is, by the way, no guarantee at all that Dollis Hill will see a penny of that.

They voted and passed it, with one exception a councillor who lives in Brent North, and seemed to understand far more than the rest. The hairdresser was in tears, the pub owner is furious and the chip shop and Londis owners, stunned and bewildered.

This is not democracy in any way. This is a failure to listen to local people, yet again. It’s also not how you represent local people: the campaign against this has been grass roots, with no help at all from elected representatives. I’ve both fought and supported planning applications in the past and managed to get real improvements in them. You can’t win every objection but as a councillor, you really should fight.

So, let’s just sum that up. Over a THOUSAND written objections ignored, which represents far more.
Just remember that next May, hm?

South Kilburn Fire Safety Meeting July 4th

From Brent Council website:

George House, Albert Road, South Kilburn, London, NW6 5BR
L&Q has been informed that the cladding used on its block at George House in South Kilburn, built in 2012, has failed the Government’s testing of their cladding samples. The London Fire Brigade has since carried out a site visit and have advised that they do not believe that George House is at high risk, as all fire safety systems required in the building are in place. They have also advised that no risks were identified that would warrant decanting the premises.

'Not One Day More' Say NO to austerity: BBC Broadcasting House Saturday

From the People's Assembly Against Austerity

We're pleased to announce that Jeremy Corbyn is speaking at our NotOneDayMore #ToriesOut - National Demonstration
Sat 1 July, Assemble 12pm, BBC Broadcasting House - March to Parliament.

The Tory/DUP coalition can't last, they represent some of the most reactionary elements of British and Irish politics, are committed to austerity and defending their privilege at the expense of the many. The Tories actually CHEERED when they successfully voted against a pay rise for our hard-working and brave emergency services. We Say, Not One Day More.

Jeremy Corbyn will join a fantastic line up of political speakers from the Labour Party, the Green Party and many more campaigns and trade unions, along with an amazing line up of performers and artists.

Speakers include (more tba):

Representatives from the Labour Party front bench include, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Diane Abbott MP, John McDonnell MP, Siân Berry from the Green Party, from the Trade Unions, Len McCluskey (Unite), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Frances O’Grady (TUC), Dave Prentis (UNISON), Matt Wrack (FBU) and more... Other speakers include Owen Jones (journalist), Dr Aislinn Docherty (Health Campaigner), Jacqueline Berry (Nurse and Health campaigner), along with representatives from many other campaigns including, The People's Assembly, Momentum, Stop the War Coalition, Stand Up to Racism, Fast food Workers campaigns, and more...

Performers include (more tba):Shy FX, Wolf Alice, Peace, Captain Ska, Sink the Pink, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and more...

It's still not too late to volunteer!

We need hundreds of people to help us make sure the day runs smoothly. We rely entirely on our supporters to volunteer as stewards. We'll have a stewards briefing in the morning of the demonstration at 10am at the assembly point - no prior experience or training needed. If you're up for joining our team for the day please 

You can find all the info you need about the march here, and you can take a look at the march route here:

See you there!

The People's Assembly Against Austerity

Brent Council reiterates opposition to fracking as company plans to drill for gas in Harlesden

--> Brent Council has reiterated its opposition to fracking in the borough following my recent story LINK about the PR offensive by London Local Energy seeking support for its plans to drill for gas in Artesian Close, Harlesden.
London Local Energy LINK claim to concentrate on the 'product not the process' and so do not mention the word 'fracking' anywhere in their publicity. It is unlikely to be so easy to avoid controversy.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Lead Member for Environment, said today that the council is absolutely opposed to fracking:
We made our position clear in 2013 and this remains unchanged. Any approach by would-be-frackers is not welcome.
In November 2013 Brent Council announced it was seeking to make Brent a 'no-fracking' zone LINK and Cllr Butt, leader of the council, said:
While there may be advantages to fracking in some parts of the country it would be dangerous and reckless for companies to start drilling in Brent. I will do everything legally within my power to address the concerns of residents and keep Brent a frack-free zone.
Councils have significant and widespread powers which allow us to stand up for the rights of residents. I am determined to use these powers to help reassure people that fracking in Brent will always be a non-starter.

While fracking may not be planned for Brent yet, the rapid pace and scale of fracking technology means that we need to act now if we are to ensure we have the necessary examination of the powers we have to potentially prevent it from happening in the future.
Brent Friends of the Earth have made the following statement:
Friends of the Earth has called for fracking to be banned in the UK. In the US and in Australia fracking has contaminated drinking water.  New York State, France and a number of other countries and American States have banned it. Scotland and Wales have also stopped all fracking while they further examine the risks We know that any process which involves extracting and burning more fossil fuels will make climate change worse. That is a huge danger. So let’s not do it. The plans suggested may be better than importing gas as we are currently doing but not better than renewables. We should be concentrating on developing renewable energy. 

Thursday 29 June 2017

Grenfell: Greens say Paget-Brown and Feilding-Mellen must go as they lock the doors on Press and Public

The Green Party has sent a letter to the prime minister urging her to remove the leader and deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council from their posts.

Their intervention follows the news that it is unlikely the final death toll from the fire that engulfed Grenfell tower will be known until the end of the year and that survivors and press will be banned from tonight’s council meeting in which an update on the fire will be given. The update will be given orally without any written record.

Green Party politicians including Sian Berry and Caroline Russell, both members of the London Assembly, Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader, and Jennifer Nadel, the party’s candidate for Kensington in the recent election, have been providing support to victims of the fire. As well as raising questions from survivors with the government and local council, the Green Party has already called for an amnesty for victims - allowing them to share personal information without fear of reprisal - and pressed the prime minister to clarify how much will be given in legal aid to help survivors.

In its letter to the prime minister, the party said it is “unconscionable” that the leader and deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea council could continue in their post when it is roundly recognised that they failed to deliver an adequate response to the fire and to heed warnings from residents about safety in the tower before the incident. The party urges May to take “strong leadership” and reassure survivors that they are being listened to and that those who presided over this tragedy aren’t allowed to carry on with business as usual. and the public that actions are being taken to ensure this “never happens again.”

The letter, signed by Jennifer Nadel, and Amelia Womack, says:
It is insulting to the residents of this community to see Paget-Brown and Feilding-Mellen remain in post. Surviving residents and members of the public need to know that strong leadership is being taken to ensure this kind of disaster never happens again. That includes ensuring that those responsible for guaranteeing the safety of residents at Grenfell before and after the fire are held to account and do not remain in post. Paget-Brown and Fielding-Mellen could themselves be subject to criminal investigations. It is unconscionable given the scale of the tragedy and the multiple failings of the council before and after that its Leader and Deputy Leader should remain as Leader and Deputy Leader of the council.

The families of those who died at Hillsborough have had to wait almost three decades for justice to be done. We cannot let the survivors of Grenfell wait that long. So I urge you: please take action, show that you are listening to the concerns of residents and survivors of Grenfell, and remove from post the council leader and deputy leader who have overseen this terrible episode in British history.
Joe Delaney, who was a resident of the tower, said:
We are extremely disappointed that neither Paget-Brown or Fielding-Mellen have shown the courage and humility to resign in the wake of this unprecedented disaster that occurred on their watch and was a direct result of policies they are responsible for. Once again, they hide behind platitudes and false assertions that they are somehow victims because of the justifiable anger and resentment being directed towards them by victims in particular and the community as a whole. Neither is forced to stay in post, so even if their colleagues in the Conservative group have allegedly refused their resignations they should still do the right thing and leave these positions of responsibility immediately. Not only would that demonstrate their regret and satisfy local wishes, but also ensure that there can be no question of using their positions to influence the inquiry and police investigation.
Piers Thompson, member of the Save our Silchester campaigning aiming to protect the neighbouring Silchester Estate, said:
It beggars belief that that Council leader Paget-Brown and his Deputy, Feilding-Mellen are clinging onto power behind locked doors at the Town Hall. This tragedy is a result of their incompetence and contempt for the ordinary people in their care. For decency's sake, go now.

NUJ condemn Kensington and Chelsea bar on press at tonight's Cabinet meeting

Following reports that journalists have been barred from the first meeting of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council’s cabinet since the Grenfell Tower fire, the NUJ condemned the decision to stop media access and called on the council to change its approach.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, said:
We are deeply disturbed at the news that the Kensington and Chelsea council cabinet meeting tonight will be held in private. The ban on media attendance should be lifted immediately and we call on all council members to ensure that this matter of the utmost public interest is discussed in public.
The horrific fire is a matter of grave public interest. The public has a right to know if public policy failures contributed to this disaster. There is no justification  for behind closed doors discussions. This can only contribute to further alienation of residents who feel their voice has not been listened to.
Members of the public, especially  those affected by the fire, and broader public  must have their rights respected. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to information.
Ultimately elected representatives make decisions on behalf of their constituents and the local community.
Decisions of the council should be open to scrutiny and conveyed to the public via independent media. Secrecy is  the default position of those who seek to avoid accountability for their actions and on this occasion there is no room for anything less than complete transparency.
I would add a similar condemnation of the bar on the public attending the meeting. It is for the Council to make the necessary security arrangements to enable the meeting to go ahead with press and public in attendance - not issue a blanket ban.

Justice4Grenfell must be seen to be done. K&C are acting in defiance of calls for accountability and transparency after its failure to listen to residents in the Grenfell Action Group before the fire.

The Cabinet meeting is at 6.30pm at Kensington Town Hall.

Powerleague at Kingsbury High refused planning permission on noise grounds

Kingsbury High School's bid to run a Powerleague football facility in its grounds has been refused planning permission. The plans were strongly opposed by nearby residents in Roe Green Village. LINK

The Brent Planning Department refusal is based on the level of noise and disturbance to neighbours which would be caused by the late opening of the facility until 10.30pm:

The proposed development, by reason of the levels of noise associated with the use (including the ancillary activities), having particular regard to the hours of operation of the use and likely frequency of those activities throughout the week and year, will result in an unduly detrimental impact on the amenities of adjoining occupiers through the exposure to noise beyond levels that may reasonably be expected within this specific context. This is contrary to Policy DMP1 of the Brent Local Plan Development Management Policies 2016 and Policy 7.15 of the London Plan (March 2016).
 The delegated report elaborates: (bold is my emphasis)

Council officers are of the opinion that the submitted hours of operation (until 10-10.30pm), represent an excessive intrusion on the reasonable expectation of amenity in this location for local residents. In this circumstance the council would normally seek to restrict the hours of operation as suggested by the NPS.
As it stands, the proposal raises amenity concerns for the local residents in terms of the noise generated by activities inherent on the site when other background noise levels are low. Specifically, a number of football games occurring at the same time with numbers of people and cars attending the facility in hours considered to be sensitive.
Whilst these would reduce noise from the activities emanating from the facility, it is clear that the duration and length of time of noise and disruption resulting from this facility are a function of the late hours of operation.
It has been suggested that a condition be applied to any consent restricting the hours of operation. However, it is understood that a restriction in the hours of operation would render the proposal unworkable as the operators of the football centre rely upon the submitted hours in order for the scheme to be commercially viable.
Whilst this may be the case, it is held that the business model required by the operators cannot be at the expense of the amenity of neighbouring properties, particularly in a suburban setting such as this where an increase in noise, light, activity and vehicle movements is accentuated to the point of being intrusive in an environment of low-level ambient noise, movement and light that reduces even further as the evening progresses.
For this reason, the proposal is considered contrary to London Plan Policy 7.15 and DMP 1 and a reason for refusal based on these policies would be reasonable and sustainable.

Huge disappointment as Brent approves controversial development proposals for Corrib and Gladstone Parade

The divide between local residents and Brent Council widened further last night when despite opposition from local residents, supported by their councillors, the Planning Committee followed officer advice and approved controversial developments at the Corrib Rest, Queens Park, and Gladstone Parade, Dollis Hill.

Although listed as objecting to the Corrib Rest proposal, Robin Sharpe representing the 400 strong Queens Park Area Residents Association, actually spoke in support of the application although he felt it could be improved.  He suggested that QPARA had been successful in increasing the number of hours that the replacement community space would be available to 40 hours although they would like it to be available until 3pm on Fridays rather than just Monday to Thursday.  He urged the developer to work with the community to make the project a success. Full text HERE

 A Hopefield Avenue resident also spoke in favour claiming that the new proposal would reduce the 'nuisance' previously experienced by homeowners in Hopefield because the community space would now be on the ground floor, rather than the first floor, and would not have an entrance in her street.

Opposing the application Kevin Barratt, representing Irish Pensioners and the 2,000 people who had signed a petition opposing the development, wanted to see more community involvement before a decision was made. He said that the Council would be better off keeping the Corrib as a community facility, rather than using money generated by the development to fund other community facilities.

He argued that with no street entrance in Hopefield Avenue, users would have to access the ground floor community room by walking through the bar, which would not be appropriate for some users. He suggested that the community space had been 'designed to fail' so that eventually the developer could convert it into housing.   He said that the replacement space was smaller than the current two first floor spaces that were to be replaced by flats. The proposed ground floor community room lacked light and space and the number of toilets had been reduced.

Dan Judelson who had tried to co-ordinate meanwhile space at the Corrib said that opposition to the scheme was 'wide and deep' and that their submission explained whey they had pulled out. He said that they were dealing with a property developer and not a community organisation and that the best guide was to look at the developer's track record in Camden. We shouldn't rely on businesses to provide community spaces of their own volition, such facilities should be supported and protected by councillors and the Council.

Cllr Denselow pointed to the 25% reduction in the number of London pubs and thus the need to protect the Corrib's Asset of Community Value status and to follow the Council's pub protection policy.  He wanted to see a thriving community space funded by the Council. He raised the question of whether Brent Council had the necessary skills to implement the Business Plan for the project.

Cllr Nerva said he had been trying to work out why no separate entrance had been provided for the community space and asked if there were plans to rescue the dance floor by re-installing it on the ground floor or making it available to another organisation.  The pub's viability would depend on the rent to be paid to the landlord (both for community space and the weekend commercial lettings) and he wanted to see upfront information on comparable rents locally. He asked how the community room provision could be revoked by the owner of it turned out not to be successful.  He thought an entrepreneurial landord would seek to extend the hours for the community space.

Cllr Pitruzzella was concerned that the community space would not be available at the weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) for community activities. Cllr Conneely sent a written submission objecting to the privatisation of a community facility if the development went ahead and remarked that she had used the Corrib as a community hub for 30 years and did not want to lose it. She queried representation on the community board that would oversee the community space. Cllr Duffy sent in a request that the Committee defer a decision pending further consultation.

Paul Clough, Brent Legal Adviser, said that the landlord would have to apply to the Council for any variation in conditions attached to the community space.  Summing up the Brent Planning Officer said that they were satisfied that the developer's was a 'generous offer' and warned that it was important not to make too many conditions that would mean the pub became unviable.  He said that they had investigated a stand alone community space with its own entrance but could not ignore the concerns of Hopefield Avenue residents and their experience of anti-social behaviour.  He said it was not reasonable to request availability of the space earlier in the day as this had not happened before. Officers would look into how to advertise the space to ensure community groups knew about it and would set up a review if it was not being used. He suggested that wording be added to say that hire rates should be comparable to local authority rates.

Planning Committee members then voted unanimously for the application. Cllr Choudhary's hand did not appear the be raised but he confirmed later that he had voted for the proposal.

Afterwards it was clear that some of the long-term users of the Corrib felt that they had been scuppered by Hopefield Avenue resident protecting the value of their properties from a Corrib user profile which did not match their, or the Council's,  aspirations for the area.

Next up was the proposal to demolish Gladstone Parade on the Edgware Road, Dollis Hill, with its local shops and flats above, with a much bigger development.  Alison Hopkins spoke as lead petitioner saying that the shops were a local community asset, the hairdresser had been there for 50 years and the grocery shop had recently been refurbished. There was no guarantee that the current shopkeepers would be offered a lease or tenure of the replacement shops or would be able to afford it. Residents objected to over-development of the site as well as the replacement accommodation being unaffordable to locals. Instead they wanted the current properties, which appeared to have been deliberately run down, with vacant properties not marketed by the freeholder (in order to help his application?),  to be regenerated and refurbished - not demolished and replaced by something that did not meet local needs.

Andy Thompson for Dollis Hill Residents Association, a statutory consultee, said that that the proposed development was inappropriate for the area and did not meet density requirements. Its position on the busy Edgware Road, with high air pollution, meant that the development would not be suitable for families, with children's health particularly at risk.

To cries of denial from the residents and shopkeepers in the public gallery, the developer claimed to have had discussions with the fish and chip shop owner and others (a claim later repeated by Brent planning officers) and that that there had been detailed reapplication discussions with planning officers to ensure the proposal was acceptable.  Six of the housing units were 'intermediate' and four 'affordable' although the latter rate was not defined.

Cllr Liz Dixon, representing residents, said that at first she had been in favour of the development recognising that it provided much needed housing, However, she had been inundated with  comments from local people and shopkeepers and realised that the Parade was a vital part of the local community.  It was very much an elderly community who have known each other and the shops for years.  She had been educated along with the campaign and a sense of community was at the heart of the issues.  It was true that the community had not been consulted properly and this was a major concern. Addressing the developer she said, you haven't learnt about the community.  The new homes would be at the expense of the existing community - there was a need to balance what we need with what we have. In a phrase which would serve for many of the developments in the borough, including or perhaps especially, Wembley, she said that new developments had to benefit the existing community.

The Committee then voted 7-1 in favour of the application with Cllr Maurice the lone councillor voting against.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Supplementary reports on Gladstone Parade and Corrib Rest for tonight's Planning Committee

Officers still recommend approval. Corrib Rest has added conditions and obligations.

1.      Site visit - Gladstone Parade

1.1       Members visited the site on Saturday 24 June and viewed the site from the north, east and south. Members raised the following queries:
How the building line would change
Whether existing occupiers have been offered new tenancies
Amenity space 1.2 The change in the building line has been addressed in paragraph 6.2 and 6.3 of the committee report. The building is currently set back from Edgware Road by 9 metres. The proposed building would be sited closer to Edgware Road and would be angled rather than straight. The building would be located 4 metres from the road on the northern side of the site and 8 metres from the road on the southern side of the site. 1.2 The applicant has been in contact with the existing tenants of Skippers Choice fish and chip shop about occupying the proposed A5 use. With regard to the other existing tenants, all of the existing leases of the current units in the shopping parade with the exception of the Estate Agents have expired. However informal negotiations regarding their leases have also been ongoing over the past few weeks. 1.3 he existing tree is of low quality with an estimated remaining life expectancy of at least 10 years. In mitigation, the proposals include replacement tree planting of five trees to the landscaped areas along Edgware Road as well as new tree planting to the communal garden to the rear of the property. Further details of this replacement planting would be secured by condition 14. 1.4 The amount of amenity space has been addressed in paragraph 4.2 of the committee report (page 72). Residents would have access to a mixture of their own private balconies and 388sqm of communal roof terraces that combine to meet Brent DMP19 amenity space requirements. 2. Further representation A local resident has provided written comments on the following issues: 2.1 Loss of retail of community value
As set out in paras 1.1 to 1.5 on pages 70-71 of the report, the existing units are afforded no policy protection with the exception of the public house. The public house and an A5 takeaway unit will be re-provided as part of the proposal. As well as this two A1/A2 units will also be provided that could accommodate a shop or hairdressers in the new development. 2.2 Harm to character
The impact of the proposal on the character of the area is covered in paragraph 6 – Impact on character and design of the committee report (page 74).
2.3       Parking and traffic
The issue of parking and traffic has been covered in paragraph 5 of the committee report. A resident has also raised concerns with potential congestion in the area. Overspill parking is addressed in para 5.1 (page 73). The volumes of vehicle trips that are likely to be generated are not significant, particularly compared with flows on the Edgware Road.
2.4       Daylight and sunlight
The issue of daylight and sunlight has been covered in paragraph 7.3 of the committee report (page 75). A resident has raised concerns about overshadowing of the school to the north of the application site. As is normal practice the school was not included in the daylight and sunlight report because it is not a residential building. However notwithstanding this due to the separation distance of the proposed building of 30m from the school building and 18m from the edge of the playground it is considered that there would be no materially harmful loss of light or overshadowing to the pupils and teachers.
2.5       Fire safety
Fire safety is not a planning consideration however in light of recent events the applicant has submitted a fire safety briefing outlining measures such as access, heat and smoke alarms, means of escape and necessary signage and lighting.
2.6       Lack of benefit for the area
The proposal would result in a net increase of 32 homes to the borough, 10 of which would be family sized units and 10 of which would be affordable housing. The proposal will also provide training and employment opportunities for Brent residents that will again be secured by a legal agreement.
Recommendation: Remains approval subject to conditions and section 106 legal agreement.

1.      Committee site visit  - Corrib Rest
Members visited the site on 24 of June 2017 and viewed the site from the surrounding area. Members also viewed the ground floor where the proposed function room would be located and the first floor where the current function rooms are located. Members queried:
how people would access the community space;
how the booking system would operate; and
what would constitute a ‘community’ activity. 1.1 People would access the function room via the ground floor main entrance of the public house located in Salusbury Road. 1.2 Bookings could be made up to six weeks before an event and would be made either over the telephone or in writing at least 10 days before the event. This would be secured as an obligation in a s106 agreement. 1.3 There is no statutory definition of ‘community’ activities however the draft s106 has provided a definition of ‘community groups’ that are defined as “groups or organisations set up for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes that include a substantial amount of activity or control by members of the public in a voluntary capacity, or provide organised training in the performing arts associated with specific cultural groups”. 2. Further representations 2.1 Cllr Duffy has raised the following concerns:
Use of the term ‘minimum’ in referring to the number of hours the community would be able to use the function room
Request the hearing be deferred to permit further public debate where Planning Officers explain the reasoning behind the recommendation. This has also been raised by a local resident. 2.1.1 The use of the word ‘minimum’ refers to the fact that legally the owner will have to provide priority access for community groups for 40 hours per week from 12:00 to 22:00 hours Monday to Thursday. This would not prevent the owner from hiring out the room to individuals or community groups outside of the set 40 hours: it would be for the pub operator to determine what would best ensure the viability of their business. 2.1.2 The committee hearing is the public meeting at which a planning application is debated. The application has been widely publicised between the end of February and the report’s publication in mid June. 2.2 Cllr Denselow has queried the use of a restrictive condition on the occupation of the proposed flats unless the public house is occupied. Officers recommend a planning obligation or condition is imposed requiring approval of an effective marketing plan for the pub and that the applicant uses reasonable endeavours to ensure the pub is operational before occupation of the flat. Officers consider this to be reasonable because if the applicant was not able to find a tenant they would not be able to change the use of the public house without first obtaining planning permission due to recommended condition 7 and the ACV status of the premises. However Cllr Denselow confirmed that he would still be objecting to the proposal.
2.3       A local resident raised a query regarding the amount of notice individuals would have to give before booking the function room. Please see response in paragraph 1.2.
2.4       A resident has reiterated their concerns with the accuracy of the Daylight/Sunlight report. This was addressed in paragraph 6.3 of the committee report however the applicants’ consultant has provided a further response to the points raised. As a consequence, Officers remain satisfied that the daylight/sunlight report has been properly prepared and the impact on neighbouring amenity would be acceptable.
2.5       A resident has raised concerns with the timing of the building being listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The asset was listed in July 2015 and the title updated to reflect this in April 2016. This is not a material planning consideration as it does not affect the status of the ACV listing. It is understood that the delay was due to the applicant not providing a relevant information.
3.  Notifications of committee
3.1         Ward Councillors did not receive the standard notification letter detailing the committee date. All Ward Councillors are aware of the meeting and as such have not been prejudiced in any way.
4.  Corrections to the report
4.1         The consultation dates in the ‘Consultation’ section of the committee report were incorrectly listed and should have read that neighbour consultation letters were issued to 68 properties on the 21/02/2017. A site notice was displayed on 24/02/2017. Press notice advertised on 02/03/2017.
4.2         The number of objections received was incorrectly listed in the ‘Consultation’ section of the committee report as 149 and should have read 151. All objections were however taken into account during the assessment of the application.
5.  Additional conditions and obligations
5.1         Officers recommend a further planning obligation be imposed, draft text as follows: Within 3 months of material start submit to the Council for its approval a marketing plan for the public house and function room and not to occupy any part of the residential development unless the marketing plan has been approved and implemented and the public house and function room marketed in accordance with the approved plan for an agreed period of time and the applicant uses all reasonable endeavours to ensure the public house and function room is operational before occupation of any part of the residential development.
5.2         The applicant has also requested that they be permitted to place table and chairs on the Salusbury Road frontage. Officers recommend condition 5 be varied to expressly prohibit the placing of tables and chairs on Hopefield Avenue frontage and to place no tables or chairs on the Salusbury Road frontage unless in accordance with a plan covering their siting and hours of use to be approved by the local planning authority.
Recommendation: Remains approval subject to conditions and section 106 legal agreement.