Thursday 31 May 2018

Is this worth £17.8m of our CIL money? Proposals for Olympic Way.

The new public space
The Agenda of the next Planning Committee LINK contains plans for the space next to the Brent Civic Centre/Wembley Library. Readers will recall that modification of the original outline permission for this site was what Brent Council hoped to gain from their decision to use £17.8m CIL money, contributed by Quintain, to replace the Pedway to Wembley Stadium with steps, along with other improvements to Olympic Way.

The planning application for the Pedway is separate, and commitee members are told that  this decision can be made independently of that application. However, the area included in the application overlaps the Pedway (NW04) below, so depends on its removal. If the Pedway is not removed some parts of the propsoed building on the plot will not go ahead.

A further condition is changes in the height and length of the new building adjacent to the space. The height is raised from 88.5m to 100m and the length is shortened from 57m tp 41m as seen from Olympic Way. The gaps between the new building and the one to its north will be reduced from 21m to 12m.

The plan includes a canopy/colonade along Olympic Way and a single storey pavilion building. The report mentions a potential bridge to the Civic Centre but does not provide any detail.

The new square with the replacement steps
The design brochure is posted below: (Click bottom right for full size)

Alison Hopkins rages against the machines - both mechanical and political!

Former Liberal Democrat councillor and Dollis Hill resident Alison Hopkins has reacted angrily to Sadiq Khan's decision to allow the Cricklewood Aggregate Superhub to go ahead.
In a statement for Wembley Matters she said:

This just shows that protests by some Brent councillors to the Mayor of London were simply grandstanding in the run up to the election: those photos of them wearing facemasks were a stunt. When Brent Labour realised the depth of fury at the proposals for both the aggregate terminal (Cricklewood Superhub) and the waste transfer facility (WTF), Cllr Butt hastily asked Barnet to arrange a so-called “consultation” meeting at the Crown, earlier this year. But, Brent councillors had ALREADY had presentations from Barnet about how wonderful Brent Cross would be back in October 2017! They didn’t bother telling any residents about the WTF planning application though – and there have been far too many cosy behind the scenes meeting between both the Leaders of both councils and senior officers, as well as with developers. 

Sadiq Khan is the latest Mayor of London not to support people in Brent, Barnet and Camden who oppose the Brent Cross “Regeneration” and the resulting mess. Livingstone lauded it, Boris approved it and Sadiq has rolled over in front of the juggernaut that is Hammersons and the Brent Cross developers. There’s far too much cosiness in all this. Originally, for example, the North London Waste Authority objected to moving their WTF to “our” side of the tracks. . They suddenly withdrew ALL objections at the last possible moment . I've done several FoI requests since, but they are evasive as hell on the subject. Add in the fact that the developers have consistently been mendacious about so called consultations and the results of said consultations and you’ve the perfect storm. 

As I’ve said before, those of us who live on the edges of Brent and Barnet are ignored by our respective councils. In Dollis Hill we could end up being the filling in a sandwich of rubbish dump and aggregate terminal. 

For Brent, it’s all about Wembley. And shops. For Barnet, it's all about Brent Cross. And shops. Not much difference between them, is there? 

I've asked Barnet Council when the WTF will go to their Planning Committee, but they’re being very evasive on that. The recent rubber stamping of what’s known as the Brent Cross CPO3 – Compulsory Purchase Order 3 – by the Secretary of State might have been a very different matter if there had been real political opposition from Brent councillors and MPs. But instead, what happened was active support by Brent for road layout changes which will have an appalling impact on people in Dollis Hill and Cricklewood. 

But then, I’ve an email from one from one councillor who thinks the WTF isn't that bad – and during the elections, Labour canvassers and councillors simply didn’t know the difference between the aggregate terminal and the WTF. One of them actually told me that the WTF had been given planning permission by Paul Lorber. (!) They also consistently told local people that it was far too late to stop the dump or the aggregate terminal. That really wasn’t the case, but it would have taken real political will and challenge which seems to have vanished entirely. 

Both the WTF and aggregate super hub are a disaster for us all. It's also appalling that what used to be a cross party and almost all party campaign against the so-called Brent Cross regeneration  is now not. This transcends party politics and ought to have had proper opposition from Brent and from local MPs as it once did. Navin and both Carolines are honourable exceptions in all this, as are the local Greens, but who is actually standing up for us?


Brent set to approve new primary school next to busy road despite air pollution warnings

The actual site yesterday
Artist's impressions of the new school above and below

Less than two weeks after Brent Clean Air warned about the need for urgent action to protect children from air pollution in schools site next to busy roads LINK, Brent Planning Committee will be considering building a 630 pupil primary school and nursery on the car park of York House, next to busy (and likely to be busier as Wembley continues to expand through regeneration) Empire Way, close to Wembley Stadium Station.  Traffic is already far busier than the artist's impression above, and busier at school times than shown in my photograph.

However, the Officer's report for the Committee LINK  does not go into any detail about air pollution, referring instead to a far more general reference back in 2015 when outline planning permission was given and focusing on the impact of demolition and construction rather than children's daily exposure to pollution.

They suggest that the playground will be protected from air pollution by the school building, although a rooftop multi use games area (MUGA) is planned as well as a rooftop learning area.  The playground itself is very small for a 630 pupil school.

Ariel view over the school playground
There is an acknowledgement that the area has heavy traffic as the report proposes that there should be reserved parking for parents at the red multi-storey car park near the LDO which would be a dropping off point for the children. Entry to York House itself will be via the LDO.

The present car park bounded by Empire Way, Stadium Way and the Royal Route
The school will be run by Ark as goverment policy does not allow local authorities to build new schools, and anyway Brent Council leader, Muhammed Butt,  who attended the February consultation meeting about the plans, is a great fan of Ark. and sits on the governing body of Ark Elvin which is round the corner from the proposed school. Others in Brent Labour Party are critics of the whole academies programme. Putting that aside there is no discussion on whether a school of that size is required as the recent pupil census showed spare places in Brent Primary schools LINK and there may be a further reduction as a consequence of Brexit.  Of course new flats are going up at a pace around Wembley stadium but they are not being designed, or marketed, as accommodation for families.

Quite a test for the scrutiny powers of the new Planning Committee.

Disappointment as London Mayor decides not to intervene in the Cricklewood Aggregate Hub

Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, yesterday decided not to intervene in the construction of an aggregate Superhub in Cricklewood. It was open to him to directly refuse the application approved by Barnet Council or take it over himself.

The GLA report (see below) concludes that initial concerns have been addressed and that the application now conforms with the London Plan and the draft London Plan.

Intervention by the Secretary of State is now very unlikely and campaigners will be considering their next moves.

The Superhub was opposed by Fordych, Dollis Hill, Mapesbury and NorthWestTwo residents' associations.  Brent Council objected on highways and environmental grounds but 'noted that some concerns had been addressed following the submission of revised details.' Camden Council supported the application in principle but objected on amenity grounds.

There was cross-party opposition from GLA members:

Caroline Russell  (Green) – Objected to the proposals on the following grounds: committee voted in favour by a majority of one vote; transparency and objectivity; neighbouring boroughs of Brent and Camden have both objected to the proposals; the change in nature of the facility, from intermodal to aggregates / construction waste, was undertaken without public consultation; impact on well-being of residents in Barnet, Brent and Camden; air quality impacts; and traffic impacts. 
Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat)  – Objected on the following grounds: slim majority, with councillors voting along ‘party lines’; transparency; objections raised from Brent and Camden Councils; scheme will impact the well-being and amenity of residents in Barnet, Brent and Camden; air quality impacts; and traffic impacts. 

Navin Shah  (Labour) – Objected to the proposals due to the impact upon noise, dust, traffic, pollution and quality of life. 

Following the Mayour announcement Caroline Russell, Green Party Assembly Member for London, said:
I share the disappointment of Brent residents at the Mayor’s decision not to intervene in the granting of planning permission by Barnet Council for the Cricklewood Superhub in the Edgware Road. Although the Superhub is in Barnet it is nearby Brent residents who will pay the social cost in terms of extra heavy lorry danger noise and pollution. The decision is particularly disappointing because there was united, well-informed opposition  from local residents’ associations as well as from Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat London Assembly Members

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Bravo! Sickle Cell Society's enormous achievements recognised with national award

Wembley Matters some time ago covered  the campaign against the Brent CCG's decision to end funding for the Harlesden based Sickle Cell Society's local  advice and support project LINK  so I am delighted to post this news direct from the Society's website:
We have beaten more than 350 organisations from all over the UK to be one of the eight winners of the 2018 GSK IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health and wellbeing. We received £30,000 in funding as part of the prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London on the 17th May, along with seven other GSK IMPACT Award winners.

An estimated 15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell disorder (an inherited blood disorder mainly affecting people of black African and African Caribbean heritage). The condition can cause chronic fatigue, pain, damage to vital organs and leads to early mortality.

The award recognises both our community-based services and our influence on national policy. Lisa Weaks, Head of Third Sector at The King’s Fund, said:
One of the impressive things about the Sickle Cell Society is that it is offering services at a community level but is also able to influence national policy. It has been instrumental in establishing national standards for the care of people with sickle cell disorder while ensuring these are firmly rooted in community needs.
Our other services which were praised include our national telephone helpline which offers support and information, our mentoring scheme for younger people with the condition and our Breaking Down Barriers outreach programme which targets people from Portuguese-speaking and French-speaking communities.

They also noted our guidelines on blood transfusions which we produced in 2016 that focused on improving the experience of people with sickle cell disorder by causing less discomfort and improving efficiency. It is estimated that this could save the NHS £13 million per year. As well as this, they praised our work to improve screening of pregnant women at risk of having a child with sickle cell.

The Society’s Chief Executive, John James, said:
I was absolutely delighted to find out we had won. Over the past five years we think we have been doing great work with patients, their families, and our partners in the NHS, NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence], and industry and so it is really good for that to be recognised.

It is fantastic recognition that we are doing good work for people with sickle cell disorder, and I am sure it will further enhance our reputation in the sector. For funders it sends the message that we are delivering value for money. The leadership support will also help us to chart the next stage in our journey.
Developing leaders in the charity sector is an important aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme, which has now been running for more than 20 years, and the Society will have access to training and leadership development tailored to our needs. We will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a national network of almost 80 award-winning health and wellbeing charities working together to develop their leaders, find new ways of working, and support others.

Thank you to all those who support our work and who work tirelessly to help improve the lives of those living with sickle cell.

You can find more about the awards here: LINK

A spokesperon for Brent Patient Voice said:
Brent Patient Voice (BPV) is delighted to congratulate the Brent-based Sickle Cell Society on being one of eight national winners in the GSK Impact Awards 2018, along with a prize of £30,000. This was in recognition of its work with the local sickle cell community and its influence on national policy. We find the award rather ironic in the light of the withdrawal of funding by Brent CCG in 2016 for the Society’s promising local support and advice project - a decision strongly contested by BPV.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

The Memory Lounge, for people with Dementia and their carers, launches on June 11th at Preston Community Library

The Memory Lounge launches at Preston Community Library on Monday June 11th with special guests The Wrinklers plus talks, information and refreshments.

This is the only group in the area offering a three pronged approach to helping those in the area who are a) concerned about their memory, b) are a carer, and c) affected by Dementia.

The Community Library us on Carlton Avenue East, just off Preston Road, opposite the Preston pub. Nearest station Preston Road (Metropolitan line).

Monday 28 May 2018

Year 5 & 6 girls needed for Harlesden Chasers FC trials during half-term

Sweets Way evictor Guy Hands prepares bid for Quintain's private rental properties

Guy Hands
 The financial press reported over the weekend that private equity investor and tax exile Guy Hands is contemplating a £2.5bn bid for Quintain in a move to get into the privately rented sector.

Quintain's owner, Lone Star, is said to want to sell by early next month and other bids are expected. Hands' acquisition would be through his Terra Firma (registered in Guernsey) property arm Annington formed in 1996 to buy up 57,000 Ministry of Defence Homes.

Of interest to Quintain's Tipi privare rental clients is that recently the National Audit Office (NAO) LINK criticised the deal stating that the MOD had lost out on billions of pounds through the sale and will face further costs through substantial rent increases imposed by Hands' company when a rent freeze ends in 2021.

Nearer to home Hands' company Terra Firma was involved in evicting social tenants from Sweets Way, West Hendon. LINK   LINK

Hands made a big loss on EMI  LINK and his Four Seasons care homes  LINK is in difficulty.

Brent Council is now faced with establishing new partnerships with new owners of both Quintain and Wembley Stadium. It has a lot of eggs in one Wembley basket. They will certainly have to be sharp to keep up with Guy Hands and Shahid Kan!

Celebrating Brent's Conservation Areas

I am please to publish this guest post by local historian Philip Grant
Conservation Areas were introduced in England by the Civic Amenities Act 1967, as a way of preserving the character of areas in towns or villages which had special architectural or historic interest. They are meant to provide a level of protection for those areas when planning decisions are made.

The Victorian commercial character of the Willesden Green Conservation Area helped campaigners in 2012 to save the remaining Victorian section of the Willesden Green Library building, despite the plans of Brent Council and their development partner, Galliford Try, to demolish it. The façade of the 1893 library now forms the High Road frontage of the modern Willesden Green Library.

The distinctive late-Victorian and Edwardian suburban villas which characterise the residential Mapesbury Conservation Area have, so far, managed to save “The Queensbury” in that area from demolition, and from an inappropriate development of flats on its site.

The inter-war planned garden suburb of the Sudbury Court Conservation Area, has relatively narrow tree-lined streets with grass verges, which form an essential part of its character. However, this did not prevent Brent Council pushing through its plans in 2016 to expand Byron Court Primary School, built in the early 1930’s as a two-form entry school for the children of this Comben & Wakeling estate, to five-form entry, generating traffic that the areas roads will not be able to cope with.

Anyone interested in Conservation Areas and their history will be very welcome at a Wembley History Society talk on this subject, on the evening of Friday 8th June:-

Brent’s first Conservation Area, designated in 1968, was the Roe Green Village Conservation Area in Kingsbury (whose proud sign is shown on the poster above). As well as marking 50 years as a Conservation Area, the village is also celebrating its centenary this year. It was specially planned by the Government’s Office of Works during the First World War, as housing for workers at an aircraft factory (“AIRCO”) on the opposite side of Stag Lane.

The Roe Green Village Residents’ Association is holding a number of events during June 2018 as part of the village’s centenary celebrations:-

If you don’t know Roe Green Village, why not treat yourself, and come along to the Village Day on Saturday 30th June! As well as lots of other attractions on offer that afternoon, on the Village Green in Roe Lane (yes, the WW1 plans included a village green, although the village pub that was meant to stand beside it was not built!) Wembley History Society will be putting on a display of pictures, telling the story of AIRCO and how the village came about. I look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday 26 May 2018

Neighbourhood CIL awards published at last

Following pressure from Wembley Matters, the outcome of applications for Round 2 Neighbourhood CIL has been published. The largest single award is £268,000 for fitting out Preston Community Library and Cricklewood Library gets an additional £30,000 folloing the £64,000 awarded in Round 1. Some amounts seem high such as the £45,000 for community wifi claimed by the South Kilburn Trust which also gets £9,000 for street signage.

The Young Brent Foundation which was set up to fund raise for youth projects after the Council closed youth clubs gets £30,000 for a 'Brent Young Peoples Hub'.  It would be useful for the Council to publish the applications in full along with business plans where applicable for the sake of transparency and accountability.

A significant number of the grants awarded are actually to Brent Council rather than community groups including grants to Regeneration, Landscaping and Town Centres as well as for electric car charging points. The Neighbourhood CIL guidelines (1.17) state budgets can't be spent on 'anything that the council or its partners should be doing.'

The majority of the fund goes to projects in Wembley in line with the distribution priorties agreed by the Council which in January 2017 (Round 1) were:

CIL Neighbourhood Fund                                       (nearest £) - as at January 2017
Harlesden                                                                   78,000
Kilburn and Kensal                                                      574,000
Kingsbury and Kenton                                                 402,000
Wembley                                                                     1,796,000
Willesden                                                                    190,000
Sudbury Town                                                             15,000
(Neighbourhood Forum with adopted Plan)  

Total                                                                          £3,000,000 (Rounding)

Fuller information on each area HERE

Click bottom left corner for full size PDF.

The Council's consultation on the Neighbourhood CIL now closes on May 30th. Readers may wish to comment on some of these issues. LINK

Friday 25 May 2018

'Radical action needed to protect Brent's children from air pollution,' says Clean Air for Brent

Poster from Green Action Centre
From Clean Air for Brent

The Mayor of London has published his long-awaited School Air Quality Audits, and they include two Brent primary schools which are situated next to busy roads, where the pupils are routinely exposed to illegal levels of air pollution. (1)

Clean Air for Brent is calling for urgent action from Brent Council and Transport for London which will deliver an immediate and positive impact on the air being breathed by children at John Keble, Ark Franklin and other Brent schools. 

We strongly urge that all such heavily trafficked roads in Brent become Low Emission Bus Zones – where only the cleanest buses are permitted during school travel times - and emission levels are monitored and acted upon where found to be consistently in breach of legal limits deemed fit for humans.

We also want to see other big polluters such as construction lorries banned from these routes during the start and end of school days.

And the number of children currently transported to and from schools by car must be halved. We have to call time on the ‘school run’.

While we welcome all schools having travel plans and joining TfL’s STARS scheme, we call on Brent Council to end its bizarre and perverse policy of giving teachers more car parking permits if the school has a ‘greener’ travel plan.

Finally we wish to see the Kensal Corridor traffic scheme - which is partly intended to tackle pollution - suspended until it can be fully and successfully integrated with the Ark Franklin Primary air quality improvement proposals. Both schemes need drastic strengthening before being taken forward.

“It is time to stop playing God with children’s lives” said Fiona Mulaisho, Chair of Clean Air for Brent. 

  1. The Mayor’s School Air Quality Audit for Ark Franklin Primary Academy in Kensal Rise can be found here: and the equivalent report for John Keble C of E Primary School in Harlesden can be found here:
Editor's note:  Parents may be interested in joining the Clean Air Parents' Network HERE

Thursday 24 May 2018

Tulip Siddiq's parliamentary assistant chosen to fight Willesden Green for Labour

Elliot Chappell, a parliamentary assistant to Tulip Siddiq MP (Hampstead and Kilburn) has been selected to be the third candidate on the Labour slate for the Willesden Green council election, following the death of Lesley Jones, whose funeral is on Tuesday next week.

Chappell, aged 26, who, despite appearances is not in a boy band, defeated Nyela Reid, Rajan Sellan, Iftekhar Ahmed, Conchita Varicak and James Powney who were also short-listed. He has previously worked on campaigns for David Lammy and Keir Starmer. His MSc (Democracy and Comparative Politics) thesis was on the 'European Union and the promotion of good governance'.

The election will be held on June 21st. Green candidates are Shaka Lish, who IS a singer, William Relton and Peter Murry.

Half-term outdoor activities for children at Welsh Harp Centre next week

Quintain announce new theatre on site of Fountain Studios

Press release from Quintain (Wembley Park)
Quintain (Wembley Park) has  announced an exciting new theatre venture. The flexible 1,000-2,000 seat capacity Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre is being created inside the former Fountain Studios by award-winning Troubadour Theatres. 

Troubadour Theatres will run the brand-new theatre in Wembley Park, and will work with well-known and emerging production companies and artists to stage world-class entertainment within a flexible space unmatched by other London theatres.

In addition to a flexible performance space, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre will also house a modern state of the art restaurant and a fun, sociable bar space.

Located within the former Fountain Studios, which are best known for being the venue of live televised shows including The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Pop Idol, the new theatre will be in the heart of Wembley Park, an area which is fast becoming one of London’s most exciting destinations. As a new cultural hub for London, the 85 acre redevelopment will benefit from the new theatre, 27 affordable artist studios, 7,000 new homes, London Designer Outlet, new retail districts and offices, as well as the largest Boxpark to date, Boxpark Wembley (set to open later this year) and the SSE Arena, Wembley.

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre will be a fully flexible theatre; a space that can be transformed to suit the requirements for every show - traditional proscenium arch theatre, in-the-round theatrical experiences, or immersive shows. It will encourage theatrical producers to think big, offering them an affordable alternative space to present bold and ambitious shows.
The Troubadour team has extensive experience of running spectacular theatres including the King’s Cross Theatre which consisted of two 1,000 seat theatres and one 450 seat studio housing the Olivier Award-winning production of The Railway Children, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, David Bowie’s Lazarus and the Donmar’s Shakespeare Trilogy.  This will be the first theatre to open in Wembley Park and first venture between Quintain, the developers behind the transformation of Wembley Park, and Troubadour Theatres, providing a new cultural offering for those living, working and visiting Wembley Park.

Speaking about the announcement Tristan Baker and Oliver Royds of Troubadour Theatres said:

We are delighted to be creating a state-of-the-art theatre in Wembley Park, in the heart of one of Europe’s largest regeneration areas. Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre will be a modern venue for modern audiences: comfortable seating, increased leg room, a spacious and welcoming bar, a seasonal and innovative restaurant. And for theatre makers, we offer a flexible, dynamic and exciting performance space which can be designed around the shows. 
We see theatre audiences increasing year on year and we are excited, once again, to break the mould of traditional theatres and bring new innovative spaces to audiences and producers alike.

Speaking about the deal, James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer of Quintain (delivering Wembley Park), said:
We are thrilled to welcome Troubadour Theatres to Wembley Park and can’t wait to see the iconic Fountain Studios given a new lease of life, as it’s transformed into a brand-new theatre for those living, working and visiting Wembley Park. This new theatre opens as London is seeing a decline in live venues across the capital and is a further example of how Wembley Park is growing in stature as a cultural destination.
Troubadour Theatre Wembley Park is set to open in the Autumn of 2018. Details of the first production will be announced in the coming months alongside information on ticket sales.


Wednesday 23 May 2018

FURTHER UPDATE 06.15 Burst water main affecting NW2, NW4 and NW11 water pressure and disrupting local traffic

  1. Pictures from London 999

    UPDATE 06.15 May 24 from Thames Water

    Water supplies have now returned to your area.

    We are working with TFL and have reopened one lane on the southbound carriage of Hendon Way to minimise any traffic disruption.

    We will update this message when there is further information to provide.

    UPDATE 21.00 May 23 from Thames Water

    Our engineers are on site and we're working to restore the water as soon as we can. Then we can begin work on repairing the broken pipe.

    Bottled water is currently being arranged and will be heading to the area. We'll confirm the bottled water locations once they have been confirmed.

    We'll provide an update on our progress as soon as we have further information.

    Update 18.30 from Thames Water

    We've arrived on Hendon Way NW4 and are currently looking into stopping the flow of water so we can carry out a repair.

    We'll keep this page updated with the latest information and should soon be able to let you know how long this repair will take.
    A41 Hendon Way is blocked southbound at j/w Renters Avenue (by Brent Cross Jcn/ ) due to a v.large Burst Water Main. Traffic is stationary on approach with Qs beyond j/w Queen's Road (by Hendon Central LU Stn), are on scene and are on way.
  2. We're aware of a burst pipe on Hendon Way causing no water/low pressure to , and . We're on our way to investigate this now and we'll update you as soon as we have more info

    Update expected by 7pm LINK