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.