Tuesday 30 June 2020

Brent gets £125k for Wembley Triangle/Harrow Road/North Circular Cycle route

In the latest tranch of London Street Space funding that encourages healthy travel post Covid, Brent has been given £125,000 towards a cycle route that will run between Wembley Triangle on the Harrow Road and the North Circular.

Replying to social media commenters who pointed out the low amount allocated to Brent compared with other London boroughs, Cllr Shama Tatler said:

As you know, the bulk of the bid which was formed from the plan we published is still being assessed. All councillors and residents that will have measures introduced will be notified. More details are on the active travel page and will be coming as we know what funding is given.

Brent may see more offices converted into housing after Government announcement

After Boris Johnosn's announcement this afternoon it seems likely that Brent will see more office buildings converted into homes as well as more freedom for developers in general. Offices may no longer be in demand as working from home continues and the office overheads are shifted to the home worker to the benefit of the employer. On the plus sides the reduction in commuting will reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

Conversion of office into homes has recently been opposed by some Brent Council members as the resultant accommodation is often of poor quality, and pre-Covid, it meant a reduction in local job opportunities.  The most prominent Brent  conversion has been 1 Olympic Way.

This is how the BBC reported the proposals that will take effect in September.

Under what Mr Johnson dubbed "project speed," planning laws would also be streamlined to encourage building.

Changes, planned for September, include:
  • A wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application
  • Builders will not need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings, if they are rebuilt as homes
  • Homeowners will be able to build additional space above their properties "via a fast track approval process" and subject to neighbour consultation

Slipped into the announcement what amounts to a reduction of money for affordable housing that in the Budget was announced as £12bn over 5 years but will now be over 12 years.

Outdoor Memorial Service for Nicole and Bibaa tomorrow in Fryent Country Park at 1pm

From Holy Innocents Church, Kingsbury

A short service for the public to remember and honour Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and to bless Fryent Park. will be held on the view point at Gotfords Hill, Fryent Country Park tomorrow at 1pm.

A Christian service led by the Bishop of Willesden and the Vicar of Holy Innocents Kingsbury, with the Mayor of Brent, will be open to everyone.

If the mobile phone signal works it will be shown live on Holy Innocents' facebook page.


Let's spread out through the area to bless it with our presence. Please maintain 2m distance between households, and stay in groups of 6 or fewer.

If you can, bring or wear a flower to show others why you are there (but don't leave any plastic wrapping in the park.) 

Note Gotfords Hill is the highest point on that side of the park and can be approached from an entrance between houses at Valley Drive, Kingsbury, or from the east side of Fryent Way through the fields.

The house number may not be correct but entrance is on that bend and the hill straight ahead as you enter the park

Brent Council issues statement after residents protest about 'ugly ' 5G mast installations

Church Lane, Kingsbury

Fryent Way, border Wembley/Kingsbury near Country Park entrance
 A local resident wrote to Wembley Matters:

"Hello... My family and I live in Kingsbury and not far from where the mast on Church lane is. We can also actually see it from our back garden as it is so tall. It is a monstrosity and a real eye sore. My family and I were never contacted over the installation of that 5G mast over the lockdown period. 

We've never received any letters or emails about it. You can imagine the shock when we saw it. It dominates the little corner shop area and towers over everything. We are really not happy about it and want it to come down. We are also worried about how this mast impacts on our health and our children's health. 

Companies cannot get away with doing things like that without proper consultation with the residents and the council. We would love to know who gave permission for it to go up and an enquiry into it please. Thank you."

A Brent Council spokesperson said:

“Planning permission was sought for both installations last year. Consultation was undertaken, with letters sent out and site notices put up.  The potential impacts of the installations were considered and planning permission granted. 

Government policy supports the expansion of electronic communications networks, including next generation mobile technology (such as 5G) and full fibre broadband connections. Legislation also allows for small scale apparatus to be installed as part of a deemed approval process. 

Under these rules the Council has limited control and must decide the case within a fixed time period. If the latter is not met this defaults to an automatic consent.”

Monday 29 June 2020

Butt announces Lunt will succeed Dave as regeneration chief at Brent Council

Brent Council has made the following announcement for what is the most powerful and influential job on the Council and one in which Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, maintains an extremely close interest:

From the Council website:

lan Lunt, the former Deputy Chief Executive of Dudley Council, will take up the role of Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment at Brent Council later this summer.

Alan Lunt

Formally starting in his new role from August, Alan is taking over from Amar Dave who is retiring.
Alan will be responsible for areas including regeneration, planning, property, parks, highways, parking, supporting businesses, driving economic growth and community protection.

He brings a wealth of experience to the job, having served as a Strategic Director for Place at Dudley Council in the West Midlands, before his promotion to Deputy Chief Executive there in 2018. Before that he served as Director for Built Environment at Sefton Council in Merseyside.

“Brent has so much going for it and I’m thrilled to be joining the council to play a leading role in helping to build upon those successes,” says Alan
“Good quality housing led regeneration can improve neighbourhoods – making them cleaner greener and safer – while also providing the secure home and base people need to transform people’s lives for the better.

“I am passionate about working with local communities to ensure that the benefits of regeneration are shared within the community. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and doing my bit to help build a better Brent.”

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said:

“Alan’s track record speaks for itself and we are delighted to bring someone of his experience and expertise on board to help drive the borough forward into the 2020s.

“I’d also like to thank Amar Dave who has served Brent with the utmost professionalism and dedication over the past four years and wish him every happiness in his retirement.”

Sunday 28 June 2020

Petition for formal criminal charges over alleged police photographing of Fryent murder victims

The family of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman have launched a petition calling for criminal charges against the police officers involved in the alleged sharing of photographs of the women's bodies. The petition has been set up by Jacqueline Henry.


Formal criminal charges should be brought against the two Metropolitan police officers who allegedly took and distributed photographs of the two Fryent Country Park murder victims, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman

As a family we were assured that every respect would be shown to our beloved girls, and this disgraceful breach of their duty cannot be punished with just a disciplinary or the loss of a job.
These police officers have allegedly fallen woefully short of the high standards of integrity and behaviour that the public should be able to expect from the police service. They should face formal criminal charges of Misconduct in Public Office and under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

It is an offence for a police officer to exercise power or privileges improperly. Distributing photographic material of murder victims outside of the confidentiality of the formal murder investigation is a clear abuse of power amounting to criminal misconduct.

The family are struggling to come to terms with the loss of the two beautiful bright lights  that have been taken from us, and we have to pray and believe that we will receive justice for their murders.
But the alleged despicable behaviour of two metropolitan police officers whose only role was to ensure that the girls came to no further harm broke every rule of common decency, that is why I am asking you to sign this petition to ensure that these officers are never given an opportunity to disrespect anyone ever again in the way that they have our two girls.

Thank you

We love you girls

#BibaaHenry #NicoleSmallman #BLM #BlackLivesMatter #Bibaa&Nicole

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 020 8721 4205 or 101 or tweet @MetCC, quoting CAD 3160/7Jun. Anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800555111


Saturday 27 June 2020

Vaccines – and a little piece of Sudbury’s history

A special guest post by Philip Grant

In recent months, vaccines have been in the news – both the quest for a vaccine to protect against Covid-19, and the threat to the fight against common diseases across the world caused by the pandemic’s disruption of vaccination programmes. The news sometimes reminds me about stories from local history that may not be well known, and this is one of them. Some readers may find parts of this article upsetting, but I hope the information in it will help your understanding of issues around science and health.

Smallpox was an infectious disease of humans, which had existed since prehistoric times. Caused by a virus, it killed up to 30% of people who caught it, and left those who survived badly scarred and often blinded. It is estimated to have killed around 400,000 people across Europe every year in the 18th century. At the time, it was usual for scientists to give discoveries names derived from the Latin language. Vaccine comes from the Latin word Vacca, a cow. 

1. A milkmaid at work, in the 1890s. (From an old book of pre-WW1 country photographs)

Edward Jenner was a doctor in Gloucestershire, who realised a rumour, that milkmaids who had caught cowpox did not get smallpox, was not just an “old wives’ tale”. He experimented in 1796, by giving pus from a cowpox blister to an 8-year old boy, then exposing him to smallpox. The boy was immune to the more serious disease. Further tests of this method also proved successful, and vaccination was born. Many were horrified by the practice and opposed it, as this satirical cartoon from 1802 (supposedly published by the Anti-Vaccine Society) illustrates.

 2. A cartoon, lampooning Edward Jenner's inoculations, and their imagined results! (From the internet)

Moving on a century, Sudbury was a small village with a number of farms. Some of these had become dairy farms during Victorian times, but one small farm, Poplars, was to have a different use. The British Institute for Preventive Medicine had been set up as a charity in 1891, and its first laboratory was in Great Russell Street. German medical researchers, the previous year, had found that antibodies to fight human diseases could be made by infecting guinea pigs. To produce these in quantity required larger animals, and by 1894 the Institute had bought Poplars Farm, quite easily reached by train from Euston, to Sudbury and Wembley Station.

3. A postcard view of the centre of Sudbury village, c.1900. (Brent Archives online image 10831)

The Institute undertook scientific research into the causes, prevention and treatment of disease (like that set up by Louis Pasteur in Paris, in 1887), and produced vaccines and antitoxins to help prevent or cure diseases. In Sudbury, they kept healthy horses in the fields, which were infected with disease bacteria. As their bodies produced the antibody serum, it was drained from them. The horses were put down when they became unwell from the infection. Tom the pony (pictured below) was used in this way to help produce Britain's first diphtheria anti-toxin.

4. Tom the pony, at Poplars Farm, and a vial of diphtheria anti-toxin, c.1895. (Images from the internet)

Diphtheria was once a common contagious disease, which particularly affected the young, and could be fatal. When Willesden’s Medical Officer reported ‘a most decided improvement in the matter of Infant Mortality’ in 1887 (only 55.2% of total deaths in the district had been infants aged 0-5, compared to 62.5% the previous year!), measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever and diphtheria had been significant causes of death. Alfred Salter was a bacteriologist who worked at Poplars Farm in the 1890s, and wrote a paper for “The Lancet” on the diphtheria antitoxin.

Salter had been a brilliant young medical student at Guy’s Hospital, and had to defend the work that he did for the Institute (renamed the Jenner Institute for Preventive Medicine in 1898). It’s activities at Sudbury brought protests from the National Anti-Vivisection Society, but his response was that thousands of human lives were saved through the use of their anti-toxins, and that the horses were put out of their misery quickly once symptoms developed.
Although this is an “aside” from my main theme, Alfred Salter left the Institute after he got married in 1900. He set up a medical practice in Bermondsey, and worked with his wife to fight against poverty and poor living conditions in that area. He served as a Labour M.P. for West Bermondsey between 1922 and 1945, and his wife, Ada, became the first woman Mayor in London, actively using her role to promote green socialist policies in their borough.

5. The site of Poplars Farm, on an extract from George H. Ward’s map of Wembley, 1908. (Brent Archives)

The work of the Institute continued in Sudbury, including the production of the first anti-rabies vaccine, but change was coming to the area. The District Railway (now Piccadilly Line) opened in 1903, and the Great Central Railway began building a branch line that would run through the Poplars Farm fields. In 1903, the Institute moved to a different farm, in Elstree, where it was renamed the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine, after one of its founders, Dr Joseph Lister. The land and its main house, The Poplars, was sold. 

6. The Poplars, with a "For Sale" sign outside it, c.1904. (Brent Archives online image 528)
Now, I have to correct the normally reliable local history book, “A History of Wembley” (written by Wembley History Society members, and published by Brent Libraries in 1979)! It says that the house was ‘once used by Dr Martin, a vivisectionist, and the home of the Epizootic Abortion Committee.’ Dr Charles Martin was appointed Director of the Institute in 1903, so would have been involved in selling Poplars Farm. There were probably reports in the “Harrow Observer” of anti-vivisection protests then (during lockdown, I can’t check that), but there is no evidence that Dr Martin was a vivisectionist. He may have been a member of the Government’s Board of Agriculture committee, which investigated the tick-borne cattle disease of that name!

The Poplars was bought by Edwin Butler, who had a small shop and sub-post office near “The Swan”. He converted the ground floor of the house into “Butler’s Emporium”, and lived on the first floor above it. He served as a Wembley councillor for 40 years, representing Sudbury. In 1920 he campaigned for the Council to buy the last remaining part of the old Sudbury Common for public recreation. When Wembley became a borough in 1937, he served as its first Mayor, and after his death in 1945, the open space he helped to save was named Butler’s Green.

7. Edwin Butler, proudly wearing his regalia as Charter Mayor of Wembley, 1937. (Brent Archives no. 7653)

By 1911, new shops had been built on either side of The Poplars, as part of a parade called Canterbury Place. If you compare the photo of The Poplars above with the one below, taken in 2015, you can still identify the upstairs windows and chimneys of the original farmhouse! This is one of many pairs of images from the “Sudbury – Then and Now” project, which you can still see online, to discover more about the local history of this part of Brent.

8. What was The Poplars, but by 2015 the Sudbury Supermarket, and a hairdressers, with a flat above.

Although the Institute was producing the diphtheria anti-toxin from the 1890s onwards, medicine would be mainly “private” in this country for another 50 years. When Kingsbury (popn. c.800) U.D.C.’s Medical Officer made his report for the last quarter of 1902, there had only been one infectious disease case. A child, Samuel Noad, had died of diphtheria at “Poplars”, a house that was part of a cluster of buildings at Blackbird Farm. Luckily, as ‘every precaution as regards disinfection of all articles and room was taken, … no further case has occurred.’

9. The families of Thomas Noad and his brother, in the garden of "Poplars", Blackbird Farm, c.1898.
By chance, a photograph of the Noad family in the late 1890s was shared with me a few years ago. Although I don’t know the names of everyone shown, Thomas Noad, the farmer, is the man standing in the centre, with his wife, and youngest child Gertrude, in front of him. His younger brother, who lived at “Poplars”, is on Thomas’s left. It may be his wife, sitting with their baby (quite possibly Samuel). Every sudden death from disease has its own tragic story.

When Kingsbury merged with Wembley in 1934, the newly combined Council brought in a scheme for immunising people against diphtheria, free of charge to the patient. There was still no immunisation at this time against measles, chicken-pox or whooping cough, which were all prevalent among children at local schools. Then, in 1941, Britain’s wartime government introduced free immunisation against diphtheria for everyone. 

10. A boy being immunised, and a poster for a diphtheria immunisation programme. (From the internet.)

I was a post-war baby, born after the N.H.S. was set up in 1948. The note of my medical history, that my Mum gave me when I first left home, shows that I had injections against diphtheria, whooping cough and smallpox when I was a baby, with boosters for the first two before I started school in 1954. It also shows that I caught measles and chicken-pox in 1952/53 (after my older sister started school) and mumps in 1955! There were no vaccinations against those then.

After global efforts, co-ordinated by the World Health Organisation, smallpox has been eradicated, with the last reported case in 1977. Similar efforts have reduced diphtheria to just 4,500 reported cases worldwide in 2015, although 2,100 of those were fatal, mainly in children. While we wait for a vaccine that can have the same effect against Covid-19, I hope that this look at vaccines and health, through local history, has given you some food for thought.

This is my last “local history in lockdown” story for a while, but a new series, by a friend from Willesden Local History Society, will begin next weekend. Please join her, to find out which area from the south of the borough you can discover more about!

Philip Grant.

Thank you Philip.  Your lockdown local histories have been very popular and I am sure have led many people to take more of an interest in the area in which they live.  I look forward to publishing many more of your well-researched and informative articles in the future.

Martin Francis

Friday 26 June 2020

Fryent murders, Mina Smallman speaks out: 'Those police officers dehumanised our children'

The PM news programme on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon stopped me in my tracks when Mina Smallman, the mother of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibba Henry, spoke powerfully to Martin Bashir about the allegation that two police officers took selfies with the women's bodies when they were supposed to be protecting the crime scene in Fryent Country Park.  She also questioned the 36 hour delay in the police launching a hunt for the two women when they were reported missing.

She said:
Those police officers dehumanised our children. They were nothing to them and what's worse they sent [the photographs] on to members of the public.
This has taken our grief to another level.  If ever we needed to understand that institutional racism within the police force, and other institutions, the Church of England, education..If ever we need an example of how toxic it has become: the police officers felt so safe, so untouchable, that they felt they could take photographs of dead black girls and send them on.
The full 8 minute interview is on BBC Sounds here: 

Channel 4 Report  including Dawn Butler MP (Labour, Brent Central) Interview

Fryent Murders: Official statement from Metropolitan Police on 'inappropriate' photographs & Met's response to missing persons reports

Press Release from the Metropolitan Police Service

On Wednesday, 17 June the MPS’s Directorate of Professional Standards was informed of allegations that non-official and inappropriate photographs had been taken by police at the crime scene in place in Fryent Gardens, Wembley in relation to the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

The MPS made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct which has launched an independent investigation.

Two MPS officers were arrested on Monday, 22 June by the IOPC on suspicion of misconduct in public office. They have since been bailed to return pending further enquiries.
Both officers – who are based on the North East Command – have been suspended from duty.

These are very serious allegations and the MPS has been and will continue to provide every possible support to the IOPC investigation team as they work to establish the facts.

Commander Paul Brogden said:

 “I am horrified and disgusted by the nature of these allegations; a sentiment which will be shared by colleagues throughout the organisation. If true, these actions are morally reprehensible and anyone involved will be robustly dealt with. I am limited in terms of being able to comment further about the matter at this time in order not to compromise the IOPC investigation.

“Senior representatives from the MPS and the IOPC visited the parents of Bibaa and Nicole to inform them of these serious allegations and confirm that it is now subject to an independent investigation with full co-operation from the MPS. This deeply disturbing information will no doubt have created additional trauma for a family who are already grieving the devastating loss of two loved ones. I can only start to imagine the impact of this; and I’d like to sincerely apologise to them for this further burden.

“I know that the wider community will share our shock and repulsion at these allegations and whilst our focus remains with Bibaa and Nicole’s family we are also listening to the concerns our communities and key stakeholders will want to raise about these allegations.”

Detectives investigating the murders believe that Bibaa and Nicole were killed in the early hours of Saturday 6 June. Later that day, they were reported as missing to police when they did not return home. Their bodies were discovered on Sunday 7 June.

As a result of their murder, a mandatory referral was made to the IOPC by officers from the DPS to consider the actions of police between the time a number of reports were made to police by family and friends that Bibaa and Nicole were missing and the time they were found. The IOPC have taken the decision to independently investigate, and the MPS is providing full support to that investigation.

Thursday 25 June 2020

1 Morland Gardens planning application – how significant is “significance”?

Guest blog by Philip Grant, in a personal capacity

Back in February, I first wrote about the 1 Morland Gardens planning application (Housing or Heritage? Or both?), under which Brent Council propose to demolish a locally listed Victorian villa in Stonebridge, to build a new adult education college and 65 affordable homes on the site.

2 Morland Gardens (not No. 1) - this is the "twin" Victorian villa. (Photo by Harry Brown)

Because of some defects in the original application, identified from “consultee comments”, a new batch of plans and documents has recently been submitted. Public consultation is now open again on application 20/0345, until Thursday 16 July. One of the new documents is a Heritage Impact Assessment (“HIA”) [see copy below], and this is what raises the important question in my title.

Locally listed buildings are those which have been identified by a Council as “heritage assets”.  “Significance” for planning purposes is defined as: “The value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. That interest may be archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic.”

Brent’s planning policies (like national ones, and the London Plan), acknowledge the importance of heritage assets, and set out how they should be protected when there are any proposals affecting them. The policy states: ‘The council will resist significant harm to or loss of heritage assets.’ Anyone considering a development should start with ‘an understanding of the architectural or historic significance of the heritage asset and its wider context.’
Brent Council is capable of doing this, as the current application for the locally listed Clock Cottage at Kenton Grange shows. Those plans conserve the old cottage, while building assisted-living flats for disabled people around a courtyard (former stables) behind it. Unfortunately, whoever was giving planning advice, to the Council Officers / Lead Member for the 1 Morland Gardens scheme, either did not understand the policies over heritage assets, or thought they could be ignored (because it was a Council scheme, Planning Committee would “rubber stamp” it?).

When the original application was submitted in February, Brent's planning agents claimed that the locally listed Victorian villa had 'minimal significance', without providing much evidence to support that, and ignoring existing evidence (such as Brent's existing local listing assessment, which gave it a significance score of 8 out of 12). Local historians knew this was nonsense, and launched a campaign to save the building (originally known as “Altamira”)’. Their petition, asking the Council not to demolish the building, achieved 368 signatures.

Cutting from the "Brent & Kilburn Times", 5 March 2020.

I submitted my objection comments in early March, explaining in detail why the application’s assessment of heritage significance was false, and recommending that Planning Officers should advise their Council colleagues to withdraw the application. This appeared to have no effect.

In April, a copy of the comments on the application by Brent's Principal Heritage Officer was obtained. He said that 1 Morland Gardens 'should be considered an important local heritage asset of high significance.' He also pointed out that the applicants (Brent Council) had not provided a proper appraisal of the heritage asset, and the impact of their proposals on it, as required by Brent's own planning policies, and said 'the applicants should seek further advice from a heritage specialist to gather further evidence in support of this application.'

The June 2020 HIA is in response to the Principal Heritage Officer’s comments. The document was prepared on the Council's behalf by Messrs Lichfields, who describe themselves as 'the pre-eminent planning and development consultancy in the UK.' Lichfields report was prepared by heritage specialists, but they were aware why their client (planning agents, acting on behalf of Brent Council) needed that report, at such a late stage in the planning process - to support their planned demolition of the building!

In the introduction to their report, Lichfields make clear that: 'The overview of the significance of the heritage assets has been undertaken using a combination of desk-based study and archival research.' They go on to say that: 'Fieldwork was not possible due to the current Covid-19 situation.' In other words, they only looked at a limited number of documents, and did not come to look at the building, its setting or the surrounding area. 

Despite the limited material available to them, they reached the conclusion: 'the building is of low significance’. Explaining how they reached this conclusion, their report says: ‘The methodology for our assessment of significance draws from the NPPF, HE’s Conservation Principles and the DMRB.’ The table they show for the criteria used is taken from the DMRB, and their conclusion is also: ‘In summary and according to DMRB significance criteria (set out in Section 1), the building is of low significance as it is of low historic and architectural importance and of local interest only.’ 

DMRB? No, I hadn’t heard of it either. It is actually the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, issued by Highways England in 2019, as guidance for designing national infrastructure projects such as trunk roads and motorways. Your guess, as to why the HIA used those criteria, may be similar to mine – to get the “right” result for their client! Why not use Brent’s own significance scoring criteria for locally listed buildings, which was adopted by the Council’s Planning Committee in July 2015?

The HIA does refer to that system, claiming that the significance score for 1 Morland Gardens should be 6 out of 12, rather than the 8 out of 12 given to it for its entry in Brent’s local list. I will explain why I believe they are wrong.

One of the “sources” their desk-based assessment used for considering the historic development of the area was a “Brief History of Stonebridge”, produced by the Grange Museum and Brent Archives. The author of that booklet has already submitted an objection comment, pointing out that a quotation used from it was taken out of context. The HIA had used ‘it was never as grandiose as its planners had originally intended’ to play down the importance of the 1876 Stonebridge Park development. The author had actually compared the smart villas built to the scene originally envisaged in a lithograph by the architect.

H.E. Kendall Junior's lithograph of his proposed estate development, c.1872. (Brent Archives image 1776)

The HIA devotes just eight lines to assessing the historic significance of 1 Morland Gardens, before marking down its score to just 1 out of 3. The author of the booklet, who became an expert on the local history of Brent in his 17 years at our Museum and Archives, has made clear that this assessment is totally flawed. Its key statements are that Stonebridge Park ‘was typical of the late-19th century suburban expansion of London,’ and that ‘1 Morland Gardens is not a rare survival, but typical of the eclectic late-Victorian villas seen across Brent. Therefore, the historic significance of the building is considered to be lower than originally assessed, scoring 1/3.' 

The entrance to Stonebridge Park from Hillside, c.1905. (Brent Archives online image 7914)

The 1876 development, was the first housing development in this part of Willesden, and gave its name to the Stonebridge Park area. It was built when Willesden’s population was around 25,000, before the massive late-Victorian influx that saw most of the area’s mainly working-class housing constructed, and the population rise to 114,000 by 1901. Added to this, 1 and 2 Morland Gardens are the only two surviving Italianate-style villas in Brent, so they are rare survivals. Any change to the existing historic significance score should be up to 3/3, not down to 1/3.

 1 and 2 Morland Gardens from Hillside, February 2020.

The other significance criteria that the HIA seeks to mark the building down on is its authenticity.

Because it ceased to be a private house 100 years ago, and has undergone internal alterations several times since then, Lichfields argue that the building is ‘much altered’, and therefore only worth 1/3. But the alterations had already been taken into account when Brent scored it 2 out of 3. It is the authentic Victorian outside appearance of the villa, in its setting with the similarly styled 2 Morland Gardens, which has hardly changed since they were built, which makes them so valuable and significant. Just compare the two views above, taken 115 years apart!

If you agree that the Victorian villa at 1 Morland Gardens has a high significance, not a low one, and that it still has value to this and future generations, then I hope you will help to persuade Brent Council that it should not be demolished. The planning application, 20/0345, is open for public consultation again, and you can submit your comments (hopefully objecting to the plans to demolish “Altamira”) on the planning website

Significance is significant. We can try to ensure that the true significance of this building is what decides the planning application, not the false appraisal of it presented in the Heritage Impact Assessment!

Philip Grant.


Wednesday 24 June 2020

Alperton Bridgewater Road high-rise development approved

Cllr Anton Georgiou (Lib Dem, Alperton ward) told the planning committee that the proposed high-rise development on the Saab showroom site on Bridgewater Road LINK was felt by residents to be 'unneeded, unwanted and unnecessary.'

He said that the 'mini-city' developing around Alperton station was changing the character of the area. The Bridgewater Road proposal was in an area where the majorrity of housing was two storey homes. There were developing problems of traffic levels and the application would contribute to further congestion.  He asked if the £4.4m CIL money raised by the development would actually be spent in the area.

He reported a young resident who had told him,  'Alperton is a place to sleep - not to live.'

Georgiou echoed Paul Lorber's call LINK for the suspension of high-rise development until links with Alperton's high Covid19 rates had been established, including the role of communal areas in high rise blocks in the transmission of the virus.

Cllr Trupti Sangani (Labour, Alperton) said she had seen no improvement in Alperton via CIL spending and called for step free access at Alperton station. The Transport Officer said that this single development was not enough to trigger such a demand as increased footfall following approval would be neglible. Improvements were being sought for nearby bus routes.

It appeared from the developer's response that Alperton School had not been directly consulted about the development which will partially over-shadow the school's site.

There was a discussion regarding how each development on its own would not have an impact but it was the cumulative impact of all the high-rise blocks that was important.  Officers referred to the Alperton Growth Area Policy but it was unclear whether the need for station and train frequency improvements would only happen late in the day, when the new housing was already occupied.

The  Growth Area plans included public spacse, canal improvments new play areas, a new nursery, community spaces and road and junction improvements.

Cllr Sangani referred to problems of anti-social behaviour along the canal side in Alperton and said officers should be raising these issues when they spoke to developers. She was told that things would improve when there was natural surveilliance from the blocks overlooking the can and when the link between all the developments in a wide canal side path had been completed.

The Canals and Rivers Trust could apply to the Council for CIL money to make improvements.

So far the Alperton developments had gained over £14m CIL money for Brent Council, 15% (about £2m) was allocated for Neighbourhood CIL. Chair of Planning Committee, Cllr James Denselow, said that this raised the wider issue of whether CIL money should be spent in the area from which it was raised, or across the borough. This was not a decision for the Planning Commitee nut for the Executive.

The main selling points put forward by the developer was what they claimed was 100% affordable housing and the creation of 120-150 new jobs in the industrial component od the scheme. They stressed their close working relationship with the Council developed through their other schemes in the area.

Councillors were told that their decisions had to be on the merits of the application and they could not make the deision on wider issues and pre-existing local conditions.  Cllr  Denselow, told members of the committee that it was 'tricky' as to an extent they had to take their ward councillor hat off when making decisions.

Officers warned that if they made decisions beyond strictly planning issues they could open the Council to appeals and financial penalties.

Cllr Michael Maurice voted against the application on grounds of his opposition to high rise and was reminde by Cllr Denselow about the danger of pre-determining applications. Maurice was also concerned about the transport implications, Cllr Sangani abstained.