Monday 3 December 2018

Brent Council Planning Committee to decide on a 23 storey tower near Empire and Danes Court, Wembley

The development and others planned (grey shading) from North End Road
Cumalative massing
Brent Planning Committee on December 12th will consider an application to build a block of varying heights, maximum 23 storeys, on a site in Watkin Road currently occupied by single storey car repair buildings. It is just outside the Quintain Masterplan site but illustrates the way tower blocks are spreading across the area.

At 23 storeys it is lower than the 29 storey Apex House student accommodation tower which will be its near neighbour. There is a 34 story block planned at Quintain Plot NE06.

The new building continues the enroachment on

As has become custome and practice the report by Brent planners glosses over aspects where the application fails to meet or comes close to not meeting local and London guidance:

  1. Provision of new homes and affordable workspace: Your officers give great weight to the viable delivery of private and affordable housing and new affordable commercial floor space, in line with the adopted Development Plan.
  2. The impact of a building of this height and design in this location: The proposal replaces a poor quality commercial plot with a large modern high density development in keeping with the surrounding and approved built form. The development utilises good architecture with quality detailing and materials in order to maximise the site’s potential whilst respecting surrounding development. The development will not obstruct views of the Wembley Stadium arch from any protected viewpoints. A “tall building” is proposed within an area designated as “Inappropriate for tall buildings”. However, the height, layout, design and massing has been carefully considered and has been evaluated by the Design Council Design Review Panel, the GLA and by Brent Officers who all have concluded that the proposed building is appropriate for this context.
  3. Quality of the resulting residential accommodation: The residential accommodation proposed is of sufficiently high quality. The mix of units is in accordance with the standards within the London Plan and reasonably well aligned with the Wembley Area Action Plan mix, and the flats would generally have good outlook and light. The amenity space is below our standard, but is still substantial and is high for a tall building.

  1. Affordable housing: The maximum reasonable amount has been provided
    on a near policy compliant tenure split. This includes 35% affordable housing provision with a tenure split of 60:40 between affordable rented and intermediate flats when measured in terms of habitable rooms. 48% of the affordable rented accommodation are 3 bedroom flats when measured in terms of habitable rooms. The viability has been tested and it has been demonstrated that this is the maximum reasonable amount that can be provided on site. The requirements of affordable housing obligations are considered to have been met and a late stage viability review will be secured by S106.
  2. Neighbouring amenity: There would be a loss of light to some windows of surrounding buildings, which is a function of a development on this scale. Many of the windows affected would serve student accommodation and/or do not yet exist as an established residential standard. The impact is considered to be acceptable given the urban context of the site. The overall impact of the development is considered acceptable, particularly in view of the wider regenerative benefits.
  3. Highways and transportation: The alterations to the public highway as required in the S106 would be acceptable, considering the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The highway works will include (i) providing a new loading bay on North End Road and (ii) extending a 20mph zone alongside the building. To encourage sustainable travel patterns, the scheme will be 'car-free' with the exception of blue badge parking spaces. A financial contribution of £110,000 towards extending CPZ's into the area is proposed with the removal of rights for residents within the development to apply for parking permits. A for bus service enhancements in the area, as required by TfL, will also be secured.
  4. Trees, landscaping and public realm: Some low quality trees are proposed to be removed but they are not considered worthy of retention. The proposal is likely to substantially improve on the existing situation with a new public realm and associated tree planting proposed alongside a wider landscaping strategy. This will be assured through conditions.
  5. Environmental impact, sustainability and energy: The measures outlined by the applicant achieve the required improvement on carbon savings within London Plan policy. Conditions will require further consideration of carbon savings prior to implementation.
  6. Flooding and Drainage: Part of the site sits within a flood zone. A flood mitigation strategy and drainage strategy will be secured by condition to mitigate the risks associated with this. The development will also substantially improve the drainage capacity of the site through attenuation measures.
I would be interested to hear what the residents of Empire and Danes Court think of the proposal.

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