Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Brent planners recommend Queensbury pub demolition scheme despite vociferous local opposition

This pub will be demolished unless Brent Planning Committee reject planning officers' recommendation
The fears of the Queensbury Pub campaigners that Brent Council will give in to the developer of the Willesden Green site and agree to the demolition of the well-loved pub appear to have been realised.

Two almost identical schemes have been put forward and the planners reject Scheme A and recommend acceptance of Scheme B.

The developer is currently at Appeal over the Council’s rejection of the earlier scheme, Campaigners claim that their FOI request revealed that the developer agreed with Brent Council that the appeal will be dropped if the Planning Committee grant the Scheme B application.  The Planning Committee papers do not note that agreement.

Officers note (claim?) that ‘less than substantial harm has been identified in the loss of the building’ housing the public house and that the identified harm is ‘outweighed by the significant public benefits’ of the scheme.

The scheme does not meet the Council’s 50% affordable housing target but that is glossed over by a vague reference to a ‘post-implementation’ review.

There is no guarantee that the replacement pub space would have a kitchen despite the fact that the survival of public houses these days depend on their offering meals and the food offer is a strength of the current pub.

The development would yield a sum of  £890,000 in Council Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Officers’ Conclusions (FULL REPORT HERE)

The proposed development is considered to have addressed the issues identified with the scheme currently at Appeal. Whilst less than substantial harm has been identified in the loss of a building which is viewed as making a positive contribution to the character of the Mapesbury Conservation Area, the identified harm is outweighed by the significant public benefits which arise from the scheme. These include: the removal of visible negative public realm features such as signage and poorly designed extensions; direct street-level access; an increase in housing provision and affordable housing provision, the provision of a formal community space/ function room. 

Whilst design will always be a subjective matter, the removal of the bulky and intrusive front elevation results in a building which appears more coherent in the streetscene and in keeping. Internally, the standard of accommodation of individual units is improved with more regular shaped rooms proposed and units meeting with the Technical Standards; and outlook and amenity space provision is also considered acceptable. No issues are again raised in relation to neighbour impact. 

The overall design of the public house is now considered to be suitably distinctive from the residential elements. The applicant has reviewed other design options such as retaining the existing building, however as discussed above, a viable scheme would result in a scheme which would completely dominate the existing building, have unacceptable impacts on neighbouring occupiers or unacceptably alter the existing building. 

The affordable housing offer of 35 % does not meet the 50 % target set out in current Council’s adopted policy and there remains some disagreement in relation to the some of the variables and the associated potential surplus generated by the scheme. However, it is considered that this can be resolved through a post implementation review which would use actual sales values and build costs as opposed to hypothetical values. Any money received will contribute towards much needed affordable housing elsewhere in the Borough. It is also noted that the current offer by the applicant of 35% affordable by habitable room would comply with the draft London Plan and with emerging local policy. 

The Planning Committee will decide on the application on June 19th, 6pm at Brent Civic Centre. If you wish to speak on the application email:

The Save The Queensbury Campaign  told Wembley Matters:

Once again we rely on members of the Planning Committee to take an objective view of the three schemes before them. Members are asked to back a scheme they’ve effectively Refused and now subject to Appeal. Members are not told that granting the scheme will take the Appeal off the table; that deal has been done.
None of the schemes meet Affordable housing targets and worryingly, there are no plans for the community groups using the pub six mornings a week. Much is promised in future reviews and legal paperwork but that will be done behind closed doors and without community involvement.
Neither the developer or officers have offered any evidence that the community welcomes this decision.

Members should not fear going against their officers. They did this before and Brent went on to win the Appeal and we are confident that the same can happen again.


Jean Roberts said...

Brent planning committee live in a bubble. They agree to loss of a community asset yet allow a new free school in Wembley. One in a polluted area and when they're closing another primary school nearby because there are falling rolls! What is going on?

Philip Grant said...

Good luck to the "Save the Queensbury" objectors at next week's Planning Committee meeting.

I hope that Councillors who have previously expressed their support for their campaign (and used photo opportunities to highlight their support for the local community) will turn up at Planning Committee, and speak against the latest applications.

Brent's Planning Officers do not always get things right. In fact, they appear to have found numerous breaches of the Council's adopted planning policies "acceptable" in recent years, and recommended applications for approval despite them failing the meet Brent's proper planning requirements.

That is why we have a Planning Committee, to consider and decide on contentious planning matters, openly and with local people able to explain why they think the planners have got it wrong.

The Committee's job is not just to "rubber stamp" what Planning Officers advise them to do, but to consider the relevant planning points themselves, as elected members representing the community. If they can see good planning reasons why an application should be refused, they can, and should, refuse it.

My views on the role of Planning Committee have been the same for many years, but I should declare an interest - I might be presenting objections against two linked applications myself, at their meeting on 16 July!