Thursday, 7 June 2018

Public Square section of £17.8m Pedway deal goes through plus estate 'in-fill' housing

It was the first meeting of the new Planning Committee yesterday evening. Members not only had to cope with hefty agenda papers but a detailed late Supplementary Report on several of the items.  Committee Chair Cllr James Denselow pointed out that most of them were new to the job and it was clear throughout the meeting that he was heavily dependent on planning officer David Glover who sat next to him and the pair were regularly engaged in urgent conversation while the meeting went on around them.

Old hands Cllr Maurice (Conservative) and Cllr Colacicco are still on the committee. Of the newcomers Cllr Abdi, Hylton and Sangani were most vocal and Cllr Johnson as vice chair made some useful interventions.

The most far reaching proposal was left until last when most of the public attending had gone home.  This is the proposal for a new public square with colonnade and canopy beside the Civic Centre that Brent Council sought to gain from using £17.8m of Community Infrastructure Levy for changes to the public realm on Olympic Way.  The overall scheme  includes the replacement of the stadium pedway by steps - a matter barely mentioned last night as it will involve a separate application. The proposal involves modifications of the outline planning permission that had already been granted to Quintain for a building on Plot NW04 and the scheme approved last night is dependent on the removal of the pedway.

It was interesting that in the earlier discussion about the Ark Somerville primary school the impression was given that the granting of outline permission earlier for the wider area, but including the school, was pretty well set in stone and could not be changed.

The public were there for much smaller schemes but ones that directly impacted on their homes  and lives in different neighbourhoods.  The proposals were part of the 'in-fill' of estates to provide more 'affordable homes' and affected Kings Drive in Wembley, Carlyon Close in Alperton and Stonebridge Park.  In each  case residents protested loss of amenity - for Kings Drive, parking spaces; Carlyon Close opening up the quiet close to through pedestrian traffic; and Stonebridge Park the impact on green space.

Denselow throughout the meeting kept emphasising that the Council had to meet the target of building 9,000 new homes by 2028 and it was not surprising that all the applications were approved. The loss of amenity for current residents was out balanced by the provision of new homes.

However it was good to see the definition of 'affordable' questioned and the committee were told that this was 80% of market rent (rather than the Mayor's London Living Rent) though that might be reduced for tenants nominated by the Council.  I hope that committee members will continue to plug away on this when Quintain puts in more applications as the assumption appears to be that the 9,000 will help cut Brent's 4,000 strong waiting list - not at 80% of market rent it won't.

The effectiveness of the planning department's consultation and communication with residents came up several times and this desreves further consideration. Residents' accounts of the consultation process suggested major improvement is needed.

No comments: