Friday 30 August 2019

Queensbury Public Inquiry Day 3: 'Trojan Horse' still alive and kicking

Cllr Tom Miller in his statement to the Queensbury Public Inquiry made it clear that he was speaking as a ward councillor and not a member of the Brent Council Executive.  He said that his ward, Willesden Green, went right up to the railway border with Mapesbury. He described how Walm Lane was seen as an extension of the High Road and said that this was also the view of the Boundary Commission. The Queensbury pub was the most likely place for his ward residents to drink, eat and socialise.

He had been an early supporter of the Save the Queensbury Campaign. Planning is a quasi-judicial process and had ensured that that proponents of the scheme were part of the process.  He said that the new scheme was a step forward and didn’t wish to belittle the proposers. However at the consultation residents were keen on their local pub and wanted to preserve it.

The main reason for preserving the Queensbury building was that it is an important piece of local architecture and in its position particularly welcoming  - it was a soft boundary between Mapesbury and Willesden Green and incorporated a soft area for social drinking between the street and the pub building.

He was concerned about the failure to provide the maximum amount of social housing and the under-sized nature of some of the housing units.  This was an important decision in terms of the public need for housing.

He did not agree with some objectors that the scheme was ‘all bad’. He recognised that the developer had been ‘on a journey’ and had been willing to adapt their plans.  If the objectors win there is no reason why the developer could not return with a revised scheme. He thought there was a possibility of a viable compromise.

He was concerned about the lack of distinction between pub and flats above in the scheme and suggested that there could have been a positive conversation about how adaptions could have been made to give it a bit less of a ‘bar feel.’

Addressing the issue of how representative the Save The Queensbury Campaign is he said that councillors engaged many people in face-to-face conversations in the ward, and although not formally recorded, he would say the Campaign reflected widely held public opinion.

The QC for the Appellants responding, claimed that the issue of distinction between the ground floor space and accommodation had been addressed in Plan B. He then went on to call the developer’s last expert witness who testified to the benefits of the scheme: a larger pub space and formalisation of the community space. Under questioning by Brent Council’s QC the witness agreed that it was no part of government policy that affordable housing should be provided at the expense of design and that there were other possible designs that could have provided affordable housing.

Ian Elliott for the Queensbury campaign asked why there were no plans for a kitchen  – provision of food was essential to make the pub viable. He was told that there were no details but the kitchen would be part of the ‘back office’ detail in the basement. Elliott went on to the press the witness on how he had come to his conclusion regarding the positive social value of the plans - it turned out he had made the judgement via 'guidance' and not through actually speaking to anyone in the area. He conceded that local people at the consultation were against the proposal.

A detailed discussion followed on what Conditions should be applied if the Inspector were to find for the Appellant.  Among issues were discussed was the provision of disabled parking when 5 units had been designed as wheelchair accessible but the development designated as ‘car free’, the opening hours of the pub starting at 11.30am when Busy Rascals would want access from 9.30/10am, and the closure of the pub garden at 9pm when currently it closed later. The latter point arose from provision of flats above the pub in the new scheme but Ian Elliott pointed out that this was another aspect of the scheme that affected the viability of the pub. Elliott put forward a list of Conditions that the Campaign wished to be applied in the event of the Appeal succeeding. These were essential to avoid a ‘trojan horse’ where the introduction of a pub to conform to Pub Protection policy is agreed but set up for failure so that other uses can be made of the space.

These issues will be discussed on Tuesday when Busy Rascals will give evidence and the owner of the pub contacted for his views.

The Public Inquiry will be reconvened in a different room* at the Civic Centre at 10am on Tuesday September 3rd. Busy Rascals will give evidence first and community aspects of Obligations in the event of the Appeal succeeding. There will also be discussion of the 5-year Housing Land Supply target and its relevance to the scheme.

In between the Inspector and representive of the Appellant and Brent Council (and possibly Save the Queensbury Campaign) will make a site visit to the Queensbury (no discussion allowed) and later the Inspector will visit the area on his own.

*This is likely to be a Committee Room on the third floor of the Civic Centre and should be indicated on the notice board at reception and at the ground floor entrance to the red lifts.

Do please follow @QueensburySOS on Twitter for updates and see the website

Thursday 29 August 2019

Queensbury Public Inquiry Day 2: 'If the conservation area can't protect residents from a cheap and nasty block, then what is it for?'

The 'one man' Save the Queensbury Campaign
Cllr Lia Colacicco, a Mapesbury resident for 27 years, Mapesbury councillor since  2014 and now Deputy Mayor, opened today's proceedings with her statement of opposition to the proposed Queensbury development.  The Mapesbury Estate was a unique neighbourly  estate, particularly for London. She described the Mapesbury Residents' Association with its multiple activities and its key Planning Sub-Committee trusted by their peers to preserve and enhance the conservation area.

Living in a conservation area brought its own rules and responsibilities and a design guide that residents had to follow making maintenance more expensive than elsewhere. Since the proposal resident have threatened non-compliance with the guide asking, 'If they allow that big block why can't I do just as I wish.'

Cllr Colacicco asked, 'If designation as a conservation area cannot protect residents from a cheap and nasty block, then what is it for?'

The Appellant's  QC often with a lofty disdain tried to undermine Ian Elliott  of the Save the Queensbury Campaign asking him if he was a professional planner, lawyer or architect and later if he was qualified in Environmental Health.  Clearly frustrated the QC asked Ian what his role was in the Campaign. Ian thought for a minute and then said with a grin, 'ring leader I suppose' and went on to vehemently deny the suggestion that he was  a politician.

The QC asked about Save the Queensbury's constitution, officers etc as if it was an organisation such as the National Trust. Elliott deadpanned saying that not many oub campaigns had such a structure.  The QC clearly implying that Save The Queensbury was a one-man operation then went through a rigmarole about  the number of Queensury Campaign's Twitter followers, whether Twitter followers were tracked to see where they live (he suggested they might just be people defending a real ale pub they felt was under threat, rather than local residents) and then attacked the Save the Queensbury website as misleading.  It was clear that the Campaign had the appellants rattled with the QC resenting the intrusion of a mere local resident into the professional club. Ian later proved his mettle in his presentation and cross-examination of the scheme's architect.

The architect claimed that there were 'not many' similarities between the 2015 Fairview proposal and the current application. The architect said that he had a different approach and 'contextualised' the scheme to reflect the local area. Brent Council had not been interested in a vernacular design. Regarding the roof he claimed that 'if you stand opposite a building with a set back roof you can hardly see it.' He had tried to 'do something different' with the roof but with a similar tone and colour but  different texture to slate roods on Walm Lane buildings, It could be changed to grey slate under Conditions.

There was considerable debate over whether the proposed building would 'urbanise' suburban Mapesbury amidst fear that one 'urban' building  over the railway line would set a precedent for others to be built in the area.

It took about 5 minutes for the Appellant's QC to read out the qualifications of their next expert witness, Mr Stewart, who said the Queensbury was a pleasant building that benefited more from its site than any particular architectural merit. He suggested it did not have a strong relationship with the conservation area while the proposed building had been designed with the conservation area in mind. He commented that the buildings in the conservation had a greater variety than usually found in such areas. Under cross examination by Brent Council's QC he said that the proposed building was at the 'possible end' of potential harm rather than 'substantial.'  Brent's QC highlighted the fact that Stewart disagreed with aspects of both the previous Inspector's report and the Heritage Impact Assessment.

The Public Inquiry will convene earlier tomorrow, at 9.30am, and will hear a contribution from Cllr Tom Miller followed by a technical discussion on 'Conditions' what will be required of the developer if the Appeal is successful.

Brent moves towards paying London Living Wage to care workers but rejects moving to in-house provision

The Community and  Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee will consider a report LINK on September 4th outlining the issues facing the provision of child and adult social care in the borough. The Council wishes to fund private providers sufficiently to pay their workers the London Living Wage, wants them to move away from zero hours contracts (unless workers prefer them) and comply with Unison's Care Charter. To do this they want to introduce a 'patch model' with fewer providers in particular areas so that there is improved performance and better quality relationships with care recipients as well as support some specialist care providers.

The change will be costly with Adult Social Care costing £10million more if the changes are implemented in 2020-21. The report rejects bringing Social Care in-house (the Council running the service) on grounds of viability and risk.

Key extracts from the report:

Paying the London Living Wage

The current cost model allows for providers to pay at or above the National Living Wage, which is £8.21 per hour, but does not enable them to pay London Living Wage, which is £10.55 per hour. Therefore, there are clear cost implications to the Council in paying at London Living Wage levels.
The Council has a clear commitment to paying LLW where possible, and no one would argue this is not the right thing to do. However, it is worth noting that there is no evidence, locally or nationally, that paying care workers above NLW has any impact on the quality of care. Regardless, discussion at PCG and at CMT has concluded that the Council will offer LLW as part of the new homecare model. The debate therefore is how quickly this can be delivered.
Within Adult Social Care we have a strong record of price control, although expenditure has increased year on year due to increases in complexity of packages and hours of homecare clients are receiving. However, both the external price analysis and intelligence from our own commissioning function has indicated that Brent now pays one of the lowest hourly rate in North West London. Other boroughs that have re-commissioned services are paying in the region of £18 per hour. The combination of a lack of available home care workers (The Institute of Public Policy Research estimates that nationally the industry will need 400,000 additional carers by 2028) and the fact that Brent is now one of the lowest paying boroughs in NW London have both contributed to the need to review our existing model to ensure the market remains sustainable in the future.
Ending Zero Hours Contracts 
Currently 38% of care workers in Brent work on zero-hours contracts. To mandate that providers don’t use zero-hours contracts and instead offer minimum-hours contracts would inevitably have an impact on the way that they are able to organise their staff rotas to deliver care. There are peaks in the demand for homecare services. Unsurprisingly they are in the morning, lunchtime and evenings. Providers don’t want to have to pay care workers when they aren’t delivering care; the council doesn’t want to pay providers more than is necessary to deliver quality services.
Through discussion with providers, we are also clear that the biggest incentive for a reduction in the use of inappropriate zero-hours contracts will be being able to offer providers a guaranteed level of hours and funding. This can be achieved through reducing the number of providers and implementing a patch based model. This would give providers a clear and consistent number of hours to work with so that they can plan their workforce requirements accordingly. The more confident the council can be in guaranteeing hours of work, the easier it will be for providers to plan their rotas and not have to fill in gaps in provision with zero-hours workers.
However, it is known that in some instances, zero-hours contracts are the preferred option of homecare workers. Our aim is that where workers would prefer a standard contract and a guaranteed minimum number of hours, this is available to them, but that we allow providers the flexibility to offer other contractual mechanism such as zero-hours contracts, or casual and short term contracts where appropriate (for example for when individuals wish to work during term time only, or to cover extended leave or maternity cover)
Providing Social Care In-house 
Consideration has been given as to whether homecare services could be brought back in house. The challenges of doing this would be considerable. Firstly, the cost of an in-house service has been modelled, focusing on staff costs alone (not including other overheads, such as premises, equipment, etc). Officers estimate than the annual cost of an in-house homecare service for Adult Social Care only would be £34.4m per year by 2023/24, compared to £27.9m, which is the modelled cost of a commissioned service including LLW. More work would need to be done to model the costs of a Children’s service, but it is likely to be more expensive than a commissioned service.
The modelling is based on needing 750 carers, 50 supervisors and 14 additional managers (Team Leaders up to a Head of Service) which is an extremely conservative estimate of the staffing required. Staffing ratios would need to be considered – the service has been modelled on the basis of 1 supervisor to 15 staff. Officers have also assumed that staff would be working on permanent contracts, and there would be no use of zero hours’ contracts.
There are a number of factors that make in-house homecare services more expensive than services commissioned from external providers. It needs to be recognised that many homecare providers are working with few overheads and little organisational infrastructure. It is not uncommon for smaller providers to be led by a manager / owner, who will perform a number of roles within the organisation, and also directly deliver care when needed. The flexibility that this gives providers can’t be replicated if the service was to be brought back in-house.
Providers are also able to manage their workforce so that they are not working during parts of the day when demand for homecare is much lower. There are peaks in demand in the morning, lunchtime and evening, with little demand between times. Whilst providers use zero-hours’ contracts to help manage this (and it’s agreed we want to reduce their use), the council would not have this option. Therefore, an in-house service would be paying for staff at times when they would not be working to full capacity, adding to the cost of services. 
Market sustainability would be an issue if Brent was reliant on one, in-house provider and would bring into question our ability to meet our Care Act requirements with regard to market sustainability and choice. There would also be considerable risk in having one provider, and whether we could ensure we could manage the various issues that arise when delivering homecare, such as safeguarding issues, quality management and workforce considerations and customer satisfaction.
Given that homecare services have been commissioned from other providers in recent years, the council has no experience in managing a homecare service. This expertise would need to be brought in to ensure that services were run in line with rules and regulations, (for instance, the service would need to be CQC registered before care could be delivered) as well as ensuring it was as efficient as possible, making best use of staff time and resources. At this stage, progressing this option is not recommended.
The report argues that the proposed changes would meet Unison's Care Charter but these claims rest on successful re-procurement and will need to be probed at the Scrutiny meeting.

Unison Care Charter


Wednesday 28 August 2019

VIdeo of first day of Queensbury Public Inquiry


I suppose there are two elephants in the room at the Public Inquiry at Brent Civic Centre. One is the fact that Brent Council planning officers had previously recommended approval of the planning application for the Queensbury pub site LINK and the other is that Brent Council, in South Kilburn, is arguing that social housing on the Carlton-Granville site is essential and there is no alternative, but arguing that there are sufficient deliverable sites in its evidence to the Inquiry. LINK

In an increasingly rare move the Brent Planning Committee had gone against officer advice and rejected a series of planning applications for the site to the delight of Save the Queensbury campaigners, the Amesbury Residents’ Association and local councillors.

I was only able to attend the morning session of the Inquiry yesterday but it was good to see Ian Elliott of the Save The Queensbury campaign more than holding his own amongst the expensively coiffured Queens Counsel and residents breaking through the legalese to denounce the developer’s design for the new building.  It was ‘unattractive and dull like a hotel you would find at Heathrow Airport’, ‘something you would see from the train travelling through South London’ (!)  it could be ‘any old building’ and did not preserve and enhance the Mapesbury Conservation Area.  No one mentioned that ‘any old building’ designs could be found round the corner on Wembley High Road or even across the road from the Civic Centre – but then they are not in a Conservation Area: rather the reverse.

Brent Council’s expert design witness, Daniel Reece, tore into the design which was unsuitable as a ‘gateway’ building to the Mapesbury Conservation Area and would dwarfed the Willesden Green underground station. He presented a series of slides to details criticism of clumsy attempts to conceal the height of the building by pushing the higher storeys back from the road, poorly designed gables, the ‘tin roof’ that reflected nothing of the Conservation Area and its sheer bulk. It was a block with added features that half-heartedly tried, unsuccessfully, to reflect the conservation area.

Ian Elliott questioned the viability of the pub space integrated into the building reminded the Inspector that this building was not just a proposal of immediate concern but one that would be there for ever and affect our grandchildren.

Today (Thursday) the Inquiry will hear from some local councillors and Busy Rascals. The session  starts at 10am.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

South Kilburn lobbies Brent Council to save Carlton and Granville Centre community spaces

Brent's child obesity crisis - special public scrutiny event September 10th

With a McDonald's expected to open soon in the Wembley Asda superstore it is a good time to examine the issue of the childhood obesity crisis in the borough. 2018 statistics showed 28.6% of Year 6 children were obese on transitioning to secondary school. This is 4% higher than in 2013 when recording started.  The full report is available HERE.

Scrutiny Event on Childhood Obesity in Brent

A Brent Council Scrutiny Task Group which has been reviewing childhood obesity is inviting residents to a special Scrutiny Open Session on Tuesday 10 September 2019.

The event, which will feature a panel discussion and Q&A, starts at 6.30pm in the Conference Hall at Brent Civic Centre HA9 0FJ. The event is for parents, community organisations and other residents to inform the task group’s review, and to find out more about the issue. The task group has been set up by Brent Council’s Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee.

To attend register on Eventbrite at

You can also register by calling 020 8937 1068 or email For more information about the evening, community organisations can call James Diamond at Brent Council on 020 8937 1068 or email
Some significant tables from the 2018 report.

Friday 23 August 2019

Carlton-Granville Protest Tuesday August 27th 1pm Brent Civic Centre

NEXT WEEK: SAVE CARLTON + GRANVILLE CENTRES PROTEST. Following this Carnival weekend, we’re turning up at @Brent_Council Civic Centre on Tuesday 27th August, 1pm to say hands off our community spaces! Bring banners, musical instruments etc
@GranComKitchen @RumisCave

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Preston Library development supported by Planning Committee as community divisions revealed

One of the most positive things about the Preston Library Campaign is how the project to run a volunteer library and multiple activities, including the regular quiz night at The Preston pub, has been how it has built community cohesion and become a part of the social landscape.

That appeared to be under threat tonight at the Planning Committee where people from the campaign formed up on both sides, for and against the application for a 2 to 4 storey block on the library sites, incorporating a smaller community space earmarked for the library but subject to agreements currently being negotiated.

An early surprise was a statement from the Chair, Cllr Denselow, that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had requested the Planning Committee not to make a formal decision tonight as the department would want to consider calling the application in for their consideration.  In tonight's hearing the committee would declare its support or opposition to the application.

One notable aspect of the meeting was the lack of protection of officers by the chair when opponents of the scheme frequently interrupted officers' explanations with jeering and ironic laughter. Councillors are fair game and can respond, but officers are not in the same position. One member of the public held up a poster asking, 'Do you live in the area?'

Philip Bromberg, Chair of Preston Community Library, was both cheered and jeered at when he made his contribution in favour of the application.  He quoted the Bookseller magazine's commendation of the community library for its achievement's in 'hard times.'  It was hoped to agree a peppercorn rent for 49 years for the library space making it a permanent and sustainable library for the future. The library had successfully negotiated temporary accommodation at Ashley Garden while building took place. He told councillors he would not address issues over the design of the building. When a councillor asked him if the Library group has consulted residents, there were shouts of 'No' from the public gallery but Bromberg listed a series of events.

Michael Rushe, speaking against the development for the South Kenton and Preston Park Residents Association, claimed the application was unlawful because it did not follow the Local Plan guidelines and there were errors and misinformation in the application documents. He asked why it was that officers thought they could ignore such guidance when it came to Brent Council development proposals but enforced them with private developers. The residents had not been part of any discussion on alternatives to the plans.

Cllr Michael Maurice, who had been replaced by Cllr Kansagra for tonight's committee meeting, made a presentation as a local resident and councillor that centred on issues such as  the size of the development which he referred to as huge, 'a blot on the landscape and nothing short of a monstrosity' -which made me wonder if this was how he would describe a 2 - 4 storey building how he would describe the 28 storey 'Twin Towers' in Wembley High Road or the proposed 24 storey Argent House opposite Stonebridge Station (incidentally the latter was pulled from tonight's agenda and deferred to another meeting).  Maurice focused on the need for parking for library users, especially for the users of the Memory Lounge (provision for people with dementia) and their carers. He also accused council planners of double-standards regarding council and private development.

The three Preston ward councillors all made contributions and were clearly in a difficult position trying  to represent both sides. Cllr Kennelly, who is a Preston resident as well as ward councillor, said that everything he had to say was premised on the Council signing an agreement with the library and that it would occupy the new space.  He said no one in the community would 'support the library not being there.' However he was concerned about over-development and air pollution. He claimed that the community had been railroaded in 2010 resulting in deep mistrust in the community about how the issue had been handled from the beginning. They were not properly consulted until 2016. Overall he was in favour of the development if the issues he had raised were addressed.

Fellow Preston councillor Cllr Afzal raised residents' concerns that the housing in the development would be sub-standard (someone in the public gallery held up a poster saying 'Lavour voters Against Rabbit hitches) and there would be parking issues both during and after construction.  He identified concerns over 'leading questions' during the consultation and emphasised that residents must be listened to. He said he would support the development if it was car-free.  Cllr Thakkar acknowledged that residents were unhappy but said she was in favour of quality affordable housing and a library on the site.

Cllr Johnson elicited the information that the parking and traffic surveys were based on 2013 information and gently asked, to laughter, if it would not have been wiser to update the figures.

Planning Committee Chair, Cllr Denselow, asked officers why a 2008 application had been opposed by officers but this one supported. He was told that this application was being made in a different context and that the former design had been of poor quality and out of keeping with the local area. He was confident that it would be turned down if resubmitted. In further responses the committee were told that Brent objected to the London Mayor's 'small site' target of a 1,000 new  homes annually because it was thought to be unrealistic for the borough. However the major target for all homes was not opposed.  When Denselow pursued claims over the allegations of illegality with the legal advisor he was told a decision could be appealed through judicial review.  Clearly this would be a very costly strategy for residents.

In  response to another challenge officers said that in their opinion they had met all planning guidance. Condition 4 protects the D1 space for community use and any deviation would require a new planning application. the library's Asset of Community Value (ACV) status would be lost with redevelopment but officers expected it to be reapplied for. If the application was rejected it would be a matter for the Council to decide the next steps, not planning officers.

Cllr Hirani, lead Cabinet member for Public Health, Culture and Leisure, argued that following the library closures made by a previous Labour administration the proposed development retaining a library marked a new chapter in the relationship between Brent Council and the community.  He claimed that changes had been made to the development proposal as a result of feedback from the community. Preston Library would be playing a part in the Brent Borough of Culture 2020 along with other libraries.

The Planning Committee voted 6 in favour of the application, one against and one abstention. We must now wait and see what, if any, intervention comes from the Secretary of State.

HS2 Review Terms of Reference and names of Review Panel members

From the Government announcement. The Chair of the Review is the former Chair of HS2 Ltd...
The Prime Minister has stated his wish to review “whether and how we proceed” with HS2 ahead of the ‘Notice to Proceed’ decision for Phase 1 (London-West Midlands) due by the end of 2019. The review will assemble and test all the existing evidence in order to allow the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport and the government to make properly-informed decisions on the future of Phases 1 and 2 of the project, including the estimated cost and schedule position.
For the whole HS2 project, the review should rigorously examine and state its view on:

  • whether HS2 Ltd is in a position to deliver the project effectively, taking account of its performance to date and any other relevant information
  • the full range of benefits from the project, including but not limited to:
    • capacity changes both for services to cities and towns on HS2 and which will not be on HS2
    • connectivity
    • economic transformation including whether the scheme will promote inclusive growth and regional rebalancing
    • environmental benefits, in particular for carbon reduction in line with net zero commitments
    • the risk of delivery of these and other benefits, and whether there are alternative strategic transport schemes which could achieve comparable benefits in similar timescales
  • the full range of costs of the project, including but not limited to:
    • whether HS2 Ltd’s latest estimates of costs and schedule are realistic and are comparable to other UK infrastructure
    • why any cost estimates or schedules have changed since the most recent previous baselines
    • whether there are opportunities for efficiencies
    • the cost of disruption to rail users during construction
    • whether there are trade-offs between cost and schedule; and whether there are opportunities for additional commercial returns for the taxpayer through, for example, developments around stations, to offset costs
    • what proceeding with Phase 1 means in terms of overall affordability, and what this means in terms of what would be required to deliver the project within the current funding envelope for the project as a whole
  • whether the assumptions behind the business case, for instance on passenger numbers and train frequencies, are realistic, including the location and interconnectivity of the stations with other transport systems, and the implications of potential changes in services to cities and towns which are on the existing main lines but will not be on HS2
  • for the project as a whole, how much realistic potential there is for cost reductions in the scheme as currently planned through changes to its scope, planned phasing or specification, including but not limited to:
    • reductions in speed
    • making Old Oak Common the London terminus, at least for a period
    • building only Phase 1
    • combining Phases 1 and 2a
    • different choices or phasing of Phase 2b, taking account of the interfaces with Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • the direct cost of reprioritising, cancelling or de-scoping the project, including but not limited to: contractual penalties; the risk of legal action; sunk costs; remediation costs; supply chain impact; and an estimate of how much of the money already spent, for instance on the purchase of land and property, could be recouped
  • whether and how the project could be reprioritised; in particular, whether and, if so how, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) (including the common sections with HS2 Phase 2b) could be prioritised over delivering the southern sections of HS2
  • whether any improvements would benefit the integration of HS2, NPR and other rail projects in the north of England or Midlands
  • any lessons from the project for other major projects

Review team and support

The review will be chaired by Doug Oakervee. The deputy chair will be Lord Berkeley. There will also be a panel consisting of Michele Dix, Stephen Glaister, Patrick Harley, Sir Peter Hendy, Andrew Sentance, Andy Street, John Cridland and Tony Travers. Each will focus on a specific area of interest; they will feed in to and be consulted on the report’s conclusions, without having a right of veto in the event that consensus cannot be reached.

Support will be provided by the Department for Transport. Sufficient support will be needed to allow a searching and rigorous review in a relatively short time. The review team will be provided with any papers and persons they request. Undertakings of confidentiality will be entered into with the Chair, Deputy Chair, panel, and others as necessary.

Reporting and publication

The review will report to the Secretary of State for Transport with oversight from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It should produce a written report suitable for publication.


The review should submit its final report in autumn 2019.

Brent Council announces dates for South Kilburn regeneration ballot

Brent Council has now published this Press Release on the South Kilburn ballot. The PR machine is notching up a gear:
Dates for an upcoming residents' ballot in South Kilburn have been announced, with the community set to confirm if it continues to support its regeneration.

Residents who are eligible to vote will receive a voting pack in the post from Electoral Reform Services, the independent body who are managing the ballot, by Friday 20 September and can cast their vote straight away by post, online or telephone.

The voting period will last for three weeks, with all votes having to be received by 5pm on Monday 14 October. The result will be shared with residents by post by Monday 21 October.

The award-wining regeneration is already halfway towards creating 1,400 brand new council homes, helping to address the major housing shortage in the borough. The plans will also improve the neighbourhood as a whole, with new community facilities including a health centre, parks and open spaces.

This week the landlord offer, which explains what eligible residents stand to gain from the regeneration plans, is being published.

Council tenants, and those in temporary accommodation, will be offered a brand new high quality home in South Kilburn, or elsewhere if they prefer, that is the same size or bigger than their current property. They will also receive £6,400 as a home loss payment plus all moving expenses paid for.
Resident leaseholders will receive market value for their property plus a 10% home loss payment and all moving fees and expenses paid.

Councillor Shama Tatler, Brent Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, said:
More than 600 families have already benefitted from a new high quality, suitably sized home in South Kilburn. The South Kilburn masterplan, which was developed alongside the community, is the best way of creating a safe, diverse neighbourhood for all generations, making sure that 1,400 more local families get the modern, comfortable homes they deserve.
The ballot will be the ninth of its kind in the capital since Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced new rules giving residents the final say on major regeneration projects.
The regeneration programme in South Kilburn has won numerous awards including RESI Development of the Year for 2018 and Best Design at the 2018 National Housing Awards.
Recently the Carlton & Granville development, which is part of the regeneration programme, won two prizes at the New London Awards for architecture - celebrating the best new buildings in the capital.
Residents can get dedicated advice as a leaseholder, council tenant or household in temporary accommodation by emailing or coming along to an upcoming drop in session which will take place Craik Court Community Room, Craik Court, Carlton Vale on:
  • Tuesday 3 September, 5-7pm
  • Thursday 12 September, 11am-1pm
  • Saturday 21 September, 11am-1pm
  • Wednesday 25 September, 5-7pm
  • Tuesday 1 October, 5-7pm
  • Wednesday 9 October, 5-7pm.
Residents can also get free, independent advice from Communities First by ringing freephone 0300 365 7150 or by emailing

ASDA & McDonald's need to spill the beans over McDelivery service at ASDA Wembley

Local residents are taking on the big boys over the proposed McDelivery service at Wembley Asda. Despite a request by Brent planners for more information to be provided the only details on the application are for installation of a window!

In my submission to Brent Council I wrote:
There is insufficient information in this application to make an evidence-based comment. It refers only to a sliding window and canopy but behind this is a proposal for a McDelivery service to operate from Asda. We need information on the times the service will operate, any changes in the vehicle lay-out, how pedestrian safety will be ensured if scooters/motorbikes are used to collect food orders and noise controls. Although the Council decided planning permission was not needed for a McDonalds to replace the previous Asda cafe I would suggest that the extension of opening hours and a delivery service operating from the premises DOES require planning permission.
A resident from the flats that overlook the Asda site wrote:
The planning documents made available to residents give little information as to what the application is for, primarily a sliding window. It has now come to my attention and also to the attention of 115 Chalkhill Road residents that a McDonalds restaurant is being built on the Asda site (former Asda cafe) with 24 hrs opening. As residents we have already raised our concerns with the Wembley Matters as well as the Council person Ms Seaton. There is a massive record of noise disturbance record that as residents we have been reporting to the Council on Asda's noise pollution for many years and there has been a noise abatement notice given to Asda few years ago by the Council which has not been really fully acknowledged by Asda hence they have been operating their Home Delivery and Click and Collect business outside of permitted hours for few years and residents have suffered due to this disgraceful behaviour of Asda's management and staff. I would like to mention also about car racing that has been going on at Asda's car park at nights for few years and despite residents reporting this as a health and safety as well as noise issue as well as public safety issue (reported to the Police with number plates of racing cars on multiple occasions) this has never been tackled and resolved. As residents we are extremely concerned that approving night time McDonalds restaurant will certainly generate more noise at nights and more cars at car park causing trouble to the public.

Please kindly look into this objection thoroughly and check previous history of complaints made by 115 Chalkhill Road residents.
Another resident wrote:

The works for McDonalds have already commenced at Asda Forty Lane, with the gutting of the cafe.

I was under the impression no decision was being made until the start of this week?

The planning documents made available to residents gave little information as to what the application was for, primarily a sliding window.

It has now come to light that a McDonalds restaurant is being built on the site of the former cafe with 24hrs opening.

The cafe was not open 24 hours, neither is Asda on a weekend.

You will see from previous correspondence with Brent Council, that the residents of 115 Chalkhill Road have long suffered noise pollution since all the planning applications submitted by Asda have been approved. The car wash directly beneath our homes was moved as it created too much noise pollution, only to be replaced with a skip during the building of the opticians, which then made way for the home delivery and click and collect areas which, even today, are a constant source of noise pollution (although, admittedly, significantly less than before our complaints) The residents facing Asda car park (includes me), faces the most noise pollution. And with this 24 hour operational food joint, it will be a nightmare!!!

There is still an ongoing issue with birds, attracted to the area by the food waste, again, better than it was now both MTVH and Asda have installed netting, but will continue to be a problem until Brent Council address the littering problem we have in this area, which I fear will be exacerbated with the arrival of a 24 hr McDonalds on our doorstep.

We are deeply concerned about the negative impact this will have on our neighbourhood and quality of life.
There are already groups using the staff shelter as a hang out late at night, with loud chatting and car stereos blasting out of open car doors.

The space in front of the car wash is frequently used as a race track, with cars picking up speed from Forty Lane end culminating in 'donuting' in front of the car wash.
What kind of clientele are you expecting at a 24 hour McDonalds? Do you think there will be an increase in trouble? Noise pollution? Littering? This will increase antisocial behaviour. We already find problems near Paddy Power corner.

Not to mention, positioned between to schools, Ark Academy and Lycée International. Is this in line with Brent tackling child obesity? Healthy eating? Why do we need another Mc Donald's, when there are two in close proximity and multiple chicken shops?

Would you please advise, as a matter of urgency, exactly what the plans are for this space and what considerations Brent are taking into account with regard to the issues raised above.

More meetings to be held on South Kilburn ballot while concerns mount over decant options

Perhaps as a result of recent protests by residents Brent Council is offering additional consultation dates regarding the ballot on South Kilburn regeneration. The ballot begins on September 20th.

An issue not addressed in the FAQs is where exactly those residents displaced by regeneration (if the ballot gives the go-ahead) will be decanted to. A Resident Advisor from Communities First who deal with South Kilburn told Wembley Matters:
South Kilburn is a phased scheme currently programmed to complete by 2027. At the time tenants in each phase are required to move there are options of new homes or existing council properties available. I understand that the Landlord Offer will detail the phasing.

The Council's purchase of the new Gloucester and Durham buildings will also generate an additional 160 currently unallocated homes.
Meanwhile there is confusion over the status of the Queen's Park/Cullen House site development, termed a 'site of vital importance' by the Council as it links Queen's Park  to South Kilburn. Planning permission was granted in 2012, amended in 2017 and the go-ahead to appoint a developer given in October 2017. So far no developer has been appointed. 39 of the proposed 137 homes had been earmarked for decanted tenants but around 270 tenants would need to be rehoused from William Dunbar and William Saville House alone.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Wembley Park Community Fund recipients named

From Wembley Park Community Fund

Quintain and The London Community Foundation announce the recipients of The Wembley Park Community Fund, which provides funding and grants to those in the Brent Community. The Fund aims to make a real difference to Brent residents by encouraging community engagement, participation and place-making through funding a variety of community-led activities.

Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 have been awarded to charities, community or voluntary organisations. The grants are awarded to three core themes – Better Places – making Brent a great place to live, work and visit; Better Lives – supporting education, employment and good health and Better Locally – ensuring local networks and services work effectively.

The organisations awarded range from The Promise Foundation which mentors disadvantaged young people across Brent; to Hilltop Circle, which delivers football training sessions to young people.
In support of Brent London Borough of Culture 2020, 40% of this round’s funding pot has also been allocated to arts and cultural projects in the borough.  These projects include Intercultural Musicology CIC, which runs free music workshops with instruments from around the world for children aged 0-12 and their parents; and Unique Community Charity which runs youth theatre sessions around the theme of language, and how that connects to identity and meaning.

The Fund is led by Quintain, the developers behind the transformation of Wembley Park, in partnership with their key contractors Wates, McLaren, John Sisk & Son, and McAleer & Rushe. It makes a difference to the lives of local residents in Wembley Park and the surrounding area by encouraging community engagement and participation through funding a variety of community-led activities.

In the past two years, The Wembley Park Community Fund has so far helped fund 20 local projects. The funding has helped children, young people, and the elderly and vulnerable adults.  The funded projects have provided the local community with employment and work training, and wellbeing and sports activities.

James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer of Quintain, the developer behind Wembley Park said:
Community-led initiatives are at the heart of our neighbourhood, making it a vibrant, welcoming and fulfilling place to live, work and visit. It’s been amazing to see the range of projects made possible by The Wembley Park Community Fund and the impact they have in the community. We are particularly pleased to support local arts and culture in support of Brent London Borough of Culture 2020.
Councillor Muhammed Butt, Brent London Borough Council, said:
Initiatives such as The Wembley Park Community Fund build upon the range of new opportunities Wembley Park has bought to the people of Brent.  With 2020 Brent Borough of Culture in mind, it’s great to see a large proportion of the funding going towards cultural and arts projects.
Full list of funded projects: