Monday, 23 July 2018

It will take more than PR to restore faith in Brent's planning process

The above video has been issued by Brent Council titled 'Watch video of the Committee decision' - I expected to see footage of members of the Planning Committee asking  informed and pertinent questions, seeking further details of the application and its impact on the local area. I was interested to hear what Planning Officers had to say about the application and even state what definition of that slippery concept 'affordable' had been used.

No such luck!

Unfortunately this turns out not to be a genuine attempt to increase transparency and accountability at a time when the sacking of Cllr Abdirazak Abdi from the Committee LINK  continues to reverberate around both Hampstead and Kilburn CLP  LINK and Brent Central CLP. There are still many unanswered questions, including why official Council papers stated that Cllr Abdi had resigned when this was not the case.

Instead the video turns out to be soft soap public relations with no record of the deliberations of the Committee that would help the public understand their decision.

As it happens the proponents of the scheme have made much more effort to involve the local community than other developers and there are positive aspects to the development but this does not take away from doubts about the integrity of the planning process as a whole.

The Council issued the following press release with the video:

A proposal to redevelop an industrial estate in Alperton and build thousands of new homes, new business space and new community facilities has been approved by Brent Council’s planning committee.

Property firm St George’s Developments have been given unanimous approval to redevelop Northfields Industrial Estate in Alperton, which will see the remaining buildings removed and replaced with new workspace, retail premises, restaurants, a community centre, health clinic, children’s nursery, public open space and 2,900 new homes - 1,015 of which will be affordable - all on the twenty-one acre site, which is located just off the A406 North Circular Road, by the Ace Café.

Under the plans, the Grand Union Canal-side of the site will be developed first, with new homes and buildings ranging between one and eight storeys in height along with improvements proposed to the public realm along the waterside.

The rest of the brownfield site extending to Beresford Avenue and the River Brent, which is ten minutes from Alperton and five minutes from Stonebridge London underground stations, will be developed in later stages, where the maximum height of the scheme will be 25 storeys, on the north-eastern corner of the site.

The plans also include public transport improvements with new bus routes, improvements to Beresford Avenue and better-lit pedestrian and cycle routes through to Stonebridge Underground station.

Employment workspace will be enhanced and will also include a new multi-storey building called ‘The Generator,’ south of the River Brent.

Cllr Shama Tatler, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning, said:

This scheme will breathe new life into a worn-out and redundant industrial estate and transform the area between Alperton and Stonebridge while bringing new homes, jobs, and improvements to the public realm and local transport networks.

It’s brilliant news for those looking to start-up a business or those looking for work, not to mention it being fantastic news for those needing a place to live, with nearly three thousand new homes to be built, over a thousand of which will be affordable.

It’s a great scheme and one that through the extensive consultation work that the applicant has undertaken, is one that carries the support of local residents, businesses, politicians and now, the council’s planning committee. I very much welcome the committee’s decision to grant approval to this scheme.

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