|Olympic Way today|
I have suggested here before that Brent planners seem rather too accommodating to developers and the report for the Olympic Office Centre development application by Network Housing (Planning Committee July 4th LINK) has a number of examples of the developer getting the 'benefit of the doubt.'
The application is by a housing provider but contains only 30% affordable housing by household - the report claims 35% affordable but this is based on rooms occupied rather than the housing unit. A slight difference perhaps, but significant.
A part 21 storey, part 15 storey development will replace the present 8 storey building on the site bordered by Fulton Road, Rutherford Way and Olympic Way.
|The new development|
|The existing 8 storey building is on the left. It will be replaced by a 21/15 storey building wedged up against the Unite Student building on the right|
The report reveals a difference of opinion between Brent Labour Council and the Labour GLA in whether more affordable housing should be expected from what was once seen as a social housing provider. Out of the 253 units 34 will be a London Affordable Rents level (the use of this definition is welcome) and 43 shared ownership where the rent should not exceed 40% of net household income.
The rest will be private and presumably at market rents. The officer's reject the GLA's argument (Para 54 onwards of report LINK ).
A new strategy is to cite the 'high density', 'densely built', 'highly urban' nature of the area - all consequences of what I consider poor planning decisions in the past but now used to justify more of the same.
|The cumulative impact of proposed schemes from Wembley Park station|
Whilst the bedroom windows on this side of the development would see a lesser standard of privacy than other windows in the development, the windows on to which they face serve student flats occupied by transient populations not warranting the same level of protection as permanent residences. Furthermore, it is conceded that the general scale of development in this highly urban part of Wembley would inevitably necessitate some tighter relationships between buildings in places and given that this is the only relationship between another building and the proposed development which falls short of standards, the relationship is considered to be acceptable.
Overall, the impact of the proposal on surrounding daylight and sunlight levels for existing and emerging buildings is considered acceptable. There are instances where reductions would be felt (and they would be noticeable in some cases). However, the overall number of discrepancies is considered to be relatively minor considering the scale of the development. Your officers are of the view that given the benefits associated with the development of this site (the provision of a number of new homes in the borough) and the dense urban nature of the subject site and surrounding sites, the benefit of the proposed development was considered to outweigh the harm associated with the loss of daylight and sunlight. It is not considered that the matter would warrant a reason for refusal
The LPA (ie the Local Planning Authority - the officers) agree (with the developer) that the availability of nearby open space and emerging social infrastructure will be numerous and that such provisions would justify a shortfall in total provision of play space. The lack of full onsite adherence to playspace is to be expected with the high density of the scheme proposed.The current offer of 35% affordable housing per habitable room falls below the 50% Local Plan target. However, it is a strong offer and Network Homes have improved the affordable rented provision as requested while maintaining the total original provision despite it being agreed by all parties that the scheme results in a financial deficit. Officers and BNP Paribas view this revised offer as the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing the scheme can deliver, in line with planning policy, subject to securing an appropriate post-implementation financial review mechanism in the s106 agreement.
Considering the benefits of the scheme, it is considered that the small reduction in the visibility of the eastern part of the arch is an acceptable consequence of this development and it is noted that the western part of the arch is already obscured to broadly the same extent, helping to bring symmetry to the view of the Stadium along the Olympic Way corridor. (We've already messed up the view on one side so let's make it symmetrical.)