The proposals for the redevelopment of 1 Morland Gardens on a prominent corner site in Harlesden/Stonebridge have attracted much controversy over the loss of a well-loved landmark in the Italianate style villa presently occupying the site. LINK There has been an argument about its relative heritage merit and whether alternative proposals should be considered which would preserve the villa. LINK
Brent Council have kindly supplied me with the advice of the Council's Principal Heritage Officer which I hope will be given due weight.
Application Number 20/0345
Name: Mr Mark Price Principal Heritage Officer
On Behalf Of: Principal Heritage Conservation Officer
SIGNIFICANCE: 1 Morland Gardens is a Locally Listed Building [a non-designated heritage asset] but not in a conservation area nor a statutory listed building. The local list description (attached) confirms and sets out its significance. It has a significance score of 8 out of 12 and therefore it should be considered an important local heritage asset of high significance.
The Heritage Statement submitted with the planning application [at 8.8] confirms the authenticity and the intactness of the building and therefore its relative significance and states that Externally, the Victorian house remains mostly intact and The houses south-facing façade still makes an impression on those passing along Hillside. However, although the report considers the history and use of the building, it does not put it into the immediate local context of Stonebridge nor as a building type within the Borough of Brent. It is therefore difficult to come to any judgement about its potential loss. Furthermore, it does not make a case for its demolition or give any comment on the merits of the replacement building.
The NPPF at paragraph 8 states that an Analysis of relevant information can generate a clear understanding of the affected asset, the heritage interests represented in it, and their relative importance. It goes on to point out at paragraph 9 that Applicants are expected to describe in their application the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting (National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 189). In doing so, applicants should include analysis of the significance of the asset and its setting, and, where relevant, how this has informed the development of the proposals.
Unfortunately, such information has not been provided.
Brents DMP 7 [b] is quite clear that applicants should provide a detailed analysis and justification of the potential impact (including incremental and cumulative) of the development on the heritage asset and its context as well as any public benefit and [at c] argues to retain buildings where their loss would cause harm. With this in mind, the applicants should seek further advice from a heritage specialist to gather further evidence in support of this application. The specialist might offer different conclusions or mitigation measures for the Council to consider.
I am aware that the D&A Statement at section 5.1, Heritage, alludes to the fact that the Design Team have carefully considered a wide range of development options for the application site, including options that retain the historic core of the building. Also that the proposed building is not without considerable design merit. However, the development options need to be carefully set out and argued as part of the planning application and form part of the heritage statement along with the architectural merits of the new design as well as the other public benefits [as defined by the NPPF] to countenance demolition.
In my view, therefore, this additional information needs to be obtained before a proper assessment of the proposals can be determined.