Wednesday, 19 June 2019

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Queensbury pub WON'T be demolished but Wembley green space WILL be built on

Save the Queensbury Campaign present their case against demolition of the pub

Mapesbury Residents' Association present their case against demolition of the pub

 The developer's planning advisor and the publican present their case

It was an evening of contrasts at Brent Planning Committee today. The latest round of the Willesden Green Queensbury pub saga ended in victory for the Save The Queensbury campaign when councillors rejected the Officers' recommendation and voted down the developer's latest plan B by 5 votes to 2.

No less than four local councillors from Willesden Green and Mapesbury spoke against the developer's proposal and there was a written submission by Cllr Tom Miller who could not attend. A powerful submission by Deputy Mayor, Cllr Lia Colacicco, was read out for her by Cllr Liz Dixon, with Cllr Colacicco following proceedings via the livestreaming. She argued that there had been no proper consultation by the developer, merely an exhibition with no discussion, it was an off-the-peg design that would not win any prizes and emphasised the Planning Inspector's comment that 'less than substantial harm' occasioned by a development, does not equate to a less than sub-substantial objection.

The most telling submissions were made by Ian Elliott of the Save The Queensbury campaign and a spokesperson for the Mapesbury Residents Association who clearly had hundreds of people behind them. They had done their research and mastered their brief which was not always the case with planning officers who were left leafing through their numerous documents in some desperation.

Perhaps the most pathetic moments were when the developer's planning agent tried to claim that there WAS a kitchen in the plans and officers tried to indicate a tiny space on the projected plan, unmarked, which they said was a kitchen space; and when officers tried to justify that a black 'tin roof' on the new building would somehow both be in keeping with, and enhance, the area.

The combination of strong community campaigning winning the support of councillors led to victory.

This morning the Save the Queensbury Campaign said:
We’ve asked Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt and Chief Executive Carolyn Downs to review officer conduct running up to & including the meeting last night. Misleading content in reports, biased extracts, incorrect verbal info given to councillors brought local government & planning into disrepute.
In contrast the arguably more far-reaching plans to build on green space in central Wembley went through unanimously with no representation from residents and ward councillors. There was a passionate intervention from the public gallery after the committee had unanimously agreed the proposal with little discussion. The resident lived opposite the proposed development and felt that she had not been properly informed or consulted.

Another London Road resident lamented that her neighbours were not interested enough to get themselves organised and that the area felt neglected by ward councillors and their MP Barry Gardiner. A new development at the end of London Road would add to congestion and crowding and she declared vehemently that after what had happened she wanted to move out of Wembley.

The architect for the development admitted that few people had turned up at the London Road consultation and that this was a continuing problem with people only getting involved when it is too late.

Officers did not mention that many of the trees that will be cut down to make way for the housing development have Tree Preservation Orders on them but it appears that when the development is on Council owned land little can be done to stop the felling.  Planning officers accepted the claim that planting saplings on the estate will make up for the loss of mature trees.

The loss of green space which is both a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and a wildlife corridor is a worrying precedent when we have a council desperate to build much needed housing but with a blind spot regarding the environment and heritage. Officers accepted that a few bird and bat boxes was sufficient mitigation for the loss.

The Save The Queensbury Campaign have now published their own account of the meeting HERE


Jaine Lunn said...

Congratulations to Queensbury Pub Campaigners. Tragedy for Wembley Green Space, says alot about where the Councils priorities lie and is'nt making Wembley Cleaner or Greener anytime soon. Appalled by the decision to fell so many trees and desecrate wildlife habitat and completely ruin our wildlife/nature corridor, and not least deprive the children and numerous new residents of green open space for informal play and recreation.

Anonymous said...

No one with a shred of knowledge regarding wildlife would consider a few bird and bat boxes as mitigation for the loss of wildlife and natural habitat. The decision makers at Brent Planning are clearly uninformed, disinterested and lacking in intelligence. What a dismal group to make decisions for the community.

Anonymous said...

Over several years I have come to expect that any Ecological Survey Report will support Brent's wishes. Ecological Consultants are well selected to ensure that this is the case. Mitigation will be a token gesture and consist of nothing more than a few bird and bat boxes placed somewhere convenient to the developer and not the wildlife. Mitigation under Wildlife Legislation is meant to provide facilities equal to or better than that existing and be effective and appropriate for the locations under consideration. This approval is no different from most other Brent developments insofar that they knowingly accept dodgy Eco Reports from Consultants who place their business interests above wildlife and clean air in our Borough. Even the Trees with TPOs are targeted for removal under this scheme; with another gesture made by planting a few saplings. When will Brent Planning Department and the Committee be brought under control? Brent promotes its Ecological Credentials at every opportunity but it is meaningless rubbish. More wildlife lost but there again most members of the Committee have little interest in such things unless it provides a photo opportunity for them. Notice how, in the Brent Magazine, that Brent has jumped on the back of the volunteer community wildlife meadows activities for a bit of self promotion. Bee corridors between 20 storey blocks of flats? Borough of Culture? What a joke? Another disaster.

Anonymous said...

"The architect for the development admitted that few people had turned up at the London Road consultation and that this was a continuing problem with people only getting involved when it is too late."
Now isn't that a surprise. The reason residents of Brent don't turn up at Planning Consultations is because when they do and invest many hours preparing logical reasons why schemes should not be granted Planning Approval, their views are ignored. The general concensus is that they are already done deals. The residents of the Sudbury Court Estate commented on the proposals for Byron Court Primary School Expansion and its 3G pitch. We had 100% opposition to the proposals. We even had the backing of our MP, Barry Gardiner for the main planning application but the scheme was still approved. So much for consultation; it's is meaningless and designed to tick Council boxes.

Philip Grant said...

I managed to watch part of the live streaming (thank you, Martin, for the videos of some bits that I missed!), and was impressed by the clear, well researched presentations by the Queensbury objectors. Well done to all of them - they deserved the victory, and I understand and appreciate the massive time and effort they will have put in to achieve that.

As I said in a comment on the blog ahead of the meeting, Brent's Planning Officers do not always get things right. They definitely got it wrong over the Queensbury!

I realise that they are under pressure, not least from a National Planning Policy Framework "beefed up" by a Conservative government to tip the balance in favour of developers. However, I think that in Brent (I don't know about elsewhere) our planners have been too willing to make exceptions to the Council's own planning policies in recent years.

Not every potentially flawed development proposal has dedicated and articulate opponents, like those who have won the argument again over the Queensbury. The decision over the London Road development shows the difference that can make.

That makes it even more important that Planning Committee are given full, unbiased and correct information by Planning Officers, so that its decisions are made fairly on planning grounds.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of green space in the immediate area, although mowed grass is low-quality habitat, and closed-off space doesn't provide recreation.
Where are people meant to live, if suburbia is considered sacrosanct?
There is also a (single) comment in the report from an owner-occupier not wanting 'others' around there.

Anonymous said...

"Where are people meant to live if suburbia is considered sacrosanct?" is not the point. The point is that surely people are entitled to live in a balanced environment. Wembley is block to block skyscrapers, any piece of open land is being threatened and very soon there will be no green space left. Anonymous 21st June 16.06, appears happy for this state of affairs to continue, so let's demolish everything that enhances the area for the sake of housing/accommodation. A thought, Wembley Stadium site would create thousands of homes and we can all be imprisoned in a concrete jungle.