Last month, I reproduced a letter from Philip Grant which had been published in the “Brent & Kilburn Times” on 6 September LINK . This challenged the Council to explain why it had allowed its own planning rules to be broken, and why it had failed to protect the iconic view of Wembley Stadium, despite its promise to do so.
Philip sent a copy of the letter to Brent’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Downs. Ms Downs replied that she had forwarded it to the Council’s Head of Planning, for attention and action, and that a response would follow. Here is the text of the Council’s response:-
‘Dear Mr Grant
I write in response to your e-mail to Carolyn Downs within which you seek a response to the matters that you raised within your letter to the Kilburn Time. Within this letter, you have set out that you consider that the Council has failed to protect the view of Wembley Stadium and that you consider that the Council has allowed its ‘own planning rules to be broken’. Within your e-mail, you provide a link to an article that you have published on Wembley Matters which refers to two planning applications for developments within Wembley.
Policy WEM6 of the Wembley Area Action Plan relates to views to Wembley Stadium. This sets out that ‘Regard should be had to the impact of development on the following views … of the National Stadium’ with specific viewpoints referred to within the policy and on a map. The pre-amble to the policy discusses the contribution the Stadium makes and the importance of views to it. It sets out that the Council will protect a range of views to the Stadium.
The potential impact on the views to the stadium are considered within planning applications that could affect those views. This includes the provision of information to demonstrate whether the proposal will affect a protected view to the stadium and the extent of any effect on that view.
The submissions for the two planning applications that you referred to within your internet article do set out the effect of those proposals. As you have highlighted in your e-mail to Carolyn Downs, those reports (and the discussions at the planning committee meeting itself) highlighted that those proposals will result in a small reduction in the view to the arch. This matter was considered by officers and members, and the level of harm associated with this reduction was evaluated. On balance, it was considered that the extent of the reduction was such that it did not warrant the refusal of planning permission.
It is clear from the report and the discussion and debate at the planning committee meeting that regard was had to the potential impact of proposed development on the views to the Stadium. These proposals would result in a slight reduction in the view to the stadium. However, the level of reduction was considered to be small and the level of harm associated with this reduction also small. This is not a matter of rules having been broken. Due regard was had to the policy, with a slight impact occurring should those proposals going ahead. That impact was considered and weighed against the benefits of the proposals, and on balance, planning permission was granted.
Development Management Manager’
Philip has decided not to waste his time in trying to argue his point further, but has sent me this comment:
‘This response is typical of the sort of excuse that Brent’s planners come up with. They admit that their planning policy recognises the importance of views of the Stadium, and says that it will protect them. They say that ‘this matter was considered by officers and members’, and then they say that it was only a ‘small / slight reduction’ in the view of the arch, so planning permission was granted.
Brent must be seen as a “soft touch” by developers. They have planning policies, but it seems they are willing to allow developers to ignore them, as long as they only breach them by a small amount each time! But those breaches are cumulative, and would not happen if Brent stuck to policies the Council had adopted, after public consultation.
The Council’s response does not answer my second question, on why it has failed to protect the iconic view of Wembley Stadium, despite its promise to do so. It HAS failed to protect the view. The evidence is plain to see, from these two photos above) taken at the same spot on the Bobby Moore Bridge, in May 2011 and September 2018.’
|The "protected view" of Wembley Stadium from the White Horse Bridge, on 2 November 2018. If only it was a case of No.13 being an unlucky number for the Stadium views supposedly "protected" by Brent's Planning Policy!|
|The view from Barn Hill (the road not the open space)|