Wednesday, 17 July 2019

'Gateway to Wembley' mural to be covered by advertising

Brent Planning Committee last night agreed an application by Quintain to largely cover the murals on the Bobby Moore Bridge underpass with advertising. The underpass leads from the Wembley Park station steps to Olympic Way, the processional route taken by most people attending events at Wembley Stadium.

The mural was commissioned by Brent Council in the early 1990s as a piece of public art to celebrate the rich and varied history of events  that have taken place at the Stadium and Arena, starting with the post-war Olympics. Local historian Philip Grant and local resident Jaine Lunn argued that the mural provided a superior 'gateway' to Wembley compared with advertisements for Quintain's Tipi rental scheme or the LDO.

Lunn said, 'It's our mural, paid for by local people, and we don't want it covered up.' Grant argued that the officers' main report did not even mention 'Heritage' as a key issue and only advocated physical protection to allow possible display in the future. He said that the application should be refused in the interests of local amenity.

The application was approved by five votes to two.

Document submitted to members of the Planning Committee by Philip Grant: (Click bottom right square to enlarge)


Pete Firmin said...

One word - vandalism

Anonymous said...

The sooner this appalling Council goes the better it will be. Clearly "heritage" and "history" are dirty words to Brent Planning.

Anonymous said...

Strange that Brent is supposedly deemed a London Borough of Culture and yet the Council and Planning are wiping out areas of our cultural history.

Jaine Lunn said...

How on earth did Brent Council secure Borough of Culture 2020 when they don't even respect their own commissioned Public Art of the Tile Murals in the subway of the Bobby Moore The Murals will remain covered up permanently save a small area showing 2 footballers, the old twin towers, and a small plaque. Despite 300+ signatories on a petition, once again Quintain got their way. As for not adhering to Brents own planning policies as set out in the Wembley Area Action Plan, clearly this was a complete waste of money in creating something that is worthless and means nothing to the planners or the committee, I suggest they bin it pronto. I felt very sorry for Mark Price, Brents Heritage Officer, whose recommendations fell on deaf ears. It's about time that some of the Councillors who elect to sit on the planning committee started doing their Homework and reading the reports fully as the planner's are clearly biased towards the developers when stating the facts.

Philip Grant said...

The document which Martin has included above was only prepared after Officers had refused a request for the ten images to be shown on the big screens in the hall.

The images were an important part of the presentations which Jaine and I were making, as they helped in consideration of some of the planning points which the applications should be decided on.

I had sent the digital images, numbered and in a folder, for easy use, to Planning Officers more than 24 hours before the meeting. I had also taken them with me on a flash drive, as a back-up, so that they could be shown.

Before I began my presentation, I asked the Chair (Cllr. James Denselow) if he would agree to the images being shown on the screen, so that the many members of the public at the meeting could follow the points that were being made. His reply was that this was a Council Committee meeting, which the public could observe, but only the committee, officers and the objectors / applicant were entitled to see the images!

You can see them now, but only after the planning points they made were ignored by most of the committee members!

Philip Grant said...

P.S. - If you have looked at the images document, you may be wondering why No.5 showed a poster advertising "Wembley Park". This was to make the point that even Quintain acknowledge the importance of local history.

They are keen to use the heritage of Olympic Way to promote their developments. Yet they’ve hidden the most valuable heritage asset behind advertisements since 2013, for their own commercial reasons, rather than sharing it with the thousands of local people, and millions of visitors, who should be able to enjoy the murals.

Now, they have permission, without any time limit, to fix illuminated advertising panels and metal cladding over most of the subway walls, and to display advertisements on those panels for at least the next ten years.

Philip Grant said...

As the other objector who spoke at the meeting, it's no surprise that I agree with most of what Jaine says here, except that the final word, "facts", should be in inverted commas!

The opening paragraph of my presentation to Planning Committee said, quite sincerely:
'You’re being recommended to grant consent to these applications by Reports that are flawed. They’re inaccurate, ignore or misrepresent valid planning points made by objectors, and give misleading legal advice.'

I too felt very sorry for Mark, Brent's Heritage Officer. The only mention of his views in the original Committee Reports was a single sentence:
‘The Council’s Principal Heritage Officer notes that, given that the tiles are not a designated heritage asset, the proposals are a reasonable compromise.'

I felt that there must be more than this, as he had asked the applicants to supply a Heritage / Significance Statement. As soon as I had read the Reports on 8 July, I sent him a Freedom of Information Act request, for all of the advice he had given. That was complied with, and it turned out that what Planning Officers had stated was from his initial look at the application documents, two months ago.

The Officer's Report failed to mention that his initial views also included a clear statement that the tile murals WERE a (non-designated) heritage asset, and that ‘These colourful tiled murals … have artistic, historic and cultural merit.’

You may have read a "guest blog" last month about Wembley Park's heritage being in the balance [].

When Mark Price received my "Alternative Heritage / Significance Statement", following Quintain's "Statement of Significance", the FoI information includes an email he wrote on 10 June to the case officer, saying that if the applications were going to Committee, the report would need to include an assessment of the "significance" of the tile murals.

He was never asked to provide that assessment, even though the Council had a duty, under the National Planning Policy Framework, to make one. I explained this to the Committee at the meeting:
'Under Para. 190, the Council has a duty to assess the significance of the tile murals ‘taking account of the available evidence.’ There is no such assessment, or any sign that detailed Statements on this matter, by the applicant and myself, have ever been properly considered.'

The committee members ignored this, just as most of them ignored Jaine's points, that the applications breached four of the planning policies set out in Brent's Wembley Area Action Plan.

When the committee were seeking answers from the Planning Officer on some of the points they were considering, Cllr. Johnson (one of the two who voted against the applications) asked: 'Does it matter that the Action Plan isn't followed?'

The Planning Officer said that the Action Plan was Brent's adopted planning policy for the Wembley area, but then went on a long discourse (as the main question had been on public art) about the different sorts of public art recognised in the Action Plan. This, she said, did not have to be permanent artworks, large or small, but could include music or dance events, or "one-off occurrences". She even suggested that the proposed advertising light boxes in the subway could be considered as "public artworks"!

That is the sort of thing that genuine objectors, who "love where they live" (to use a Council slogan), have to face when dealing with Brent's planning system. Brent is a "Borough of Culture", but a culture has grown up inside its planning team where almost any application is considered "acceptable", even if it does not comply with national or local planning policies!

Anonymous said...

"Does it matter that the Action Plan isn't followed?"

Of course it ******* matters!!! But not in Brent.

Philip Grant said...

There is now an article about the Planning Committee decision on the "Kilburn Times" website: