'...The council will therefore protect a range of short, middle and long distance views of the National Stadium.' 2015
Your article “Wembley Arch Vanishing?” (23 August) LINK makes a very important point about Brent Council’s lack of compliance with its own planning policies.
In January 2015, a meeting of Brent’s Full Council adopted the Wembley Area Action Plan, drawn up after public consultation, to be part of the policies which were supposed to be applied in deciding whether planning applications should be accepted. The action plan included a section on “Protection of Stadium Views”, with policy statements such as:
‘Views of the Stadium contribute a significant amount to the perception of Wembley as a whole, performing a range of functions that add a layer of depth to the visual experience of the area.’ and
’The council will therefore protect a range of short, middle and long distance views of the National Stadium.’
In the related section of the action plan on “Protecting the Special Character of Olympic Way”, the protection to be given was spelled out with further policy statements, including:
‘In line with policies WEM5 and WEM6, proposals for tall buildings must demonstrate that they have no adverse visual impacts on views of the stadium from Olympic Way.’ and (in policy WEM7)
’Proposed Development on Olympic Way must be carefully designed and scaled to respect the predominance of Wembley Stadium and its arch.’
Picture 4.39 (above) is an illustration from the 2015 action plan, showing the main view that these policies were supposed to protect. Unfortunately, the reality of what has been allowed to happen can be seen in a photograph which I took, from the same spot, in July 2018.
Brent has allowed many “minor” bites to be taken out of the view, by approving successive planning applications for tall buildings along Olympic Way over recent years, and there are more to come.
In June 2018, a report to Planning Committee, which approved changes to the plan for a tall block next to the Civic Centre, mentioned some of the earlier concessions made:
‘The top of the new tall building would obscure an additional small part of the stadium arch ....’ and
’Whilst the current proposals would slightly reduce the amount of the arch that is visible at present, this is not significantly more than the degree to which the Barratt and Unite housing schemes on the eastern side of Olympic Way infringe on the view of the arch from Olympic Way ....’
In July 2018, when recommending approval for a development by Network Homes of up to 21 stories, the planners said:
‘... 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.’
Brent Council should explain why it has allowed its own planning rules to be broken by its planners and Planning Committee, and why it has failed to protect the iconic view of Wembley Stadium, despite its promise to do so.