|The Wembley skyline from Chalkhill Park|
The report by Amar Dave, Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment, reads more like a public relations plug for Quintain than an objective, warts and all assessment of the regeneration of Wembley so far.
The Scrutiny Committee are asked merely to note the contents of the report but I hope they will go a lot further in assessing this multi-million project.
Apart from the issue of the 17.8m payment of CIL money for improvements to the public realm around Wembley Stadium, which includes new steps to replace the present stadium entrance ramps, there are other issues worthy of probing questions from committee members.
The issue of the provision of truly affordable housing looms large for many Brent people and the report claims that over 30% of the housing provided is affordable. This raises the question, aired many times on Wembley Matters, of what is meant by affordable. The committee should seek precise figures on how much has been provided at 80%, 65%, or 50% of marker rent or at the London Living Rent recommended by the GLA. What proportion of the housing could be afforded by Brent residents earning the median family income for the borough?
There is increasing criticism of the way high rise buildings are being squeezed into every available space by Quintain and it is worth assessing to what extent they have departed from the original plans and whether this more speculative build is the result of Quintain's takeover by Texas Star. The report merely notes that the acquisition has accelerated delivery without discussing whether this has led to any deterioration in quality.
Planning officers' recommendation of granting of planning permission even when buildings do not meet London or Brent planning guidelines on factors such as height, light and density deserve probing as does the controversy surrounding the leader of the council's and lead member's meetings with developers.
The amount of student accommodation in the area deserves consideration following the planning department's decision to move the goal posts. They now assess the proportion against the target in terms of future build rather than current build enabling more applications to be approved.
The report makes great claims for job creation but the committee should be interested in the quality and sustainability of the jobs created, the proportion that are low paid or zero hours contracts as well as the number of jobs that have been lost when small businesses have moved out to make way for more high rise blocks.
There are many more issues but one of the most pressing is the plan to build a new three form entry primary free school, to be run by Ark, on the site of the York House car park. Its position on a road with heavy polluting traffic and on a small site that necessitates a roof top playground has been criticised, but whether such a school is needed is also subject to debate.