Tuesday 1 October 2019

Kingsbury's surburbia under threat?

44 Queens Walk on the corner of Salmon Street and Queens Walk (view from Queens Walk)

The view from Salmon Street

Neighbours of a proposed development on a site at the junction of Salmon Street and Queens Walk in Kingsbury are expressing consternation at plans for the development of what was a single family house into a block of 8 flats.

Queens Walk has been seen as one of the most handsome suburban streets in the area with a number of different individual style houses that nonetheless blend into a  pleasing whole. Like many such streets there have been unsympathetic refurbishments and extensions which Brent Council has allowed and of course front gardens given over to car parks.

However, for many the latest application is seen as a step too far and possible opening the possibility, by establishment of precedent, to more such applications.  Number 44 Queens Walk has been empty for some time and has clearly deteriorated and was purchased at a fairly knock-down (sorry!) price for demolition and redevelopment.  The conversion from family house to 8 flats (2 three bedroomed, five 2 bedroomed and one 1 bedroom) to be sold at market prices will yield a considerable profit - tempting to other developers.

I see little reason to disagree with what one of the objectors had to say about the application: 

Queens Walk is typical of the leafy suburban character of many parts of Brent. The properties in Queens Walk are all two-storey detached or semi-detached houses, set well back from the road and of individual yet complimentary appearance. The proposed four storey development at number 44 would be significantly taller than any other property in the road and the design makes no attempt to blend in with the architectural style of Queens Walk. 

One of the reasons that previous applications have been denied is that the design, layout and appearance are out of character. The developer has come back with a design that is even taller than the previous submission and makes even less attempt to reflect the suburban architecture of the area. How can this be acceptable? 

The Brent Local Plan that is being consulted on at the moment promotes a vision of "respecting the predominantly suburban low rise character of the area" The current Core strategy states even more strongly that one of the aims is "to protect and enhance the suburban character of Brent and to protect it from inappropriate development." 

Queens Walk has a distinctive suburban character. The building is totally out of character with the rest of Queens Walk and is in fact an ugly building. Whatever is put on this plot will be there for a considerable length of time. Surely, we should be improving the environment with buildings that enhance the surrounding area, not buildings that will spoil it?

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