Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Did Brent Council do enough to save the Queensbury?

Although it was the Planning Inspector who gave the go ahead for the demolition of the Queensbury Pub there is also an issue of Brent Council's role.  Brent Council never got round to listing the building which would have been a first line of defence but the Planning Inspector himself seemed doubtful that they had properly prepared for the case.

The Save the Queensbury campaign on social media accused the Council of dithering:

Because this was Brent's own doing. Inept officers dithering about new plans in front of them, dancing to the developer tune, rather than preparing for an upcoming Inquiry. Car crash of an Planning Committee in June, officers desperate to approve led to zero prep for the Appeal.

The campaign  are asking Cllr Butt, leader of Brent Council and Carolyn Downs for an explanation of the Inspector's comment on the Council's preparation for the Inquiry (Para 46)

The evolution of the design of the proposed building was clearly set out in the appellant’s evidence, and was carefully analysed by the appellant’s architectural and conservation witnesses. In comparison the Council’s evidence was far less detailed and was given by an architect with apparently very limited experience of comparable developments, and who was doubtless hindered by being instructed only a week before evidence was submitted.

In contrast after considering objections to the Save the Queensbury's website inclusion of an image of a previous application which he said could have been misleading, he writes (Para 70):
That said, the STQ evidence was clear and relevant, and there could be no suggestion that their clear evidence was in any way misdirected
This is the Inspector's conclusion:

Planning balance and conclusion

I have already identified the policies which are most important for determining the appeal above. There is no persuasive evidence that any of the policies are out of date. Considering the policies as a whole, the policies are not out of date and I conclude that the ‘tilted balance’ under paragraph 11 of the Framework is not triggered.  

I am conscious of the considerable importance and weight to be given to the desirability of preserving the character and appearance of conservation areas. However, in this case I have found that the proposal would overall have a neutral effect on the designated area, which is to say that its character and appearance would be preserved. 

The proposal would generate the following main benefits, to which I attach significant weight: 

a.     It would deliver 48 new homes, including 35% affordable housing at the Council’s tenure split. This is accepted as the maximum reasonable amount and is subject to a late review mechanism. The percentage of family sized units is unusually high for a development of this sort.

b.    The re-provision of a larger public house in purpose built accommodation.

c.     The provision of a larger and dedicated community space, along with secure arrangements for the existing and future occupiers.

d.    The development is in a highly sustainable location opposite a tube station and on bus routes, and with a PTAL score of 6.

            For the reasons given above I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.

 The full report is below. Click on the bottom right hand corner for full size version: 

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