Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Brent Council says air quality is not a problem for new school in Neasden Lane

In a previous posting LINK I raised concerns about the siting of a new school in Neasden Lane because of its history of poor air quality which in the past have been raised in Parliamemt by then MP Sarah Teather and with the GLA through Mayor's Question Time. At one stage pollution levels were in clear breach of EU regulations. The monitoring site was one of those which Boris Johnson, when London Mayor, was accused of 'fixing' by the installation of dust suppressants at the monitoring station.

Brent Council has taken action to 'clean up' the pollution  LINK but has admitted that more needs to be done.

I should make it clear that I am not against a new secondary school in the Harlesden area, there has long been a campaign for a community secondary school there, but I am raising questions about the specific site chosen.  This is particularly important when Brent Council through Brent Breathes is setting out to improve air quality near existing schools and cites particular issues when existing schools are on busy roads. Full Brent Breathes Report HERE see section on schools.

Planners have reacted to the Wembley Matters article with the following statement in a supplementary report presented to tonight's Planning Committee.  There are also supplementary reports for the Sudbury Town and Ujima House planning appplications.

Air Quality

The site falls within an AQMA a recent publication by Wembley Matters raised concern with allowing a new school in an area with poor air quality, particularly an open roof MUGA. As discussed in the main body of the report, the application site has been identified as being one of the ones in the borough suitable to accommodate a school. 

The London Plan places great emphasis on the importance of tackling air pollution and improving air quality. It therefore states that development proposals should minimise exposure to existing poor air quality and make provision to address local problems of air quality such as by design solutions, buffer zones or steps to promote greater use of sustainable transport modes. 

The development makes a particular contribution through promoting greater use of sustainable transport modes. The existing Chancel House site currently benefits from a large car parking area with 189 car parking spaces. Under the proposed scheme only 11 spaces are to be retained. To further discourage car use to the site a travel plan is to be secured via the s106 agreement to promote walking and cycling to the site. Sustainable transport modes are also promoted through on site cycle parking provision and the contribution to TfL for local bus services. 

As required by the London Plan, the application has been accompanied by an Air Quality Assessment and an Air Quality Neutral Assessment. The submitted Air Quality Assessment concludes that air quality levels would not exceed air quality objectives when the site is operational, with the Air Quality Neutral Assessment confirming that the development is better than air quality neutral in terms of both transport and building emissions. 

The submission therefore demonstrates that air quality in the area will not have an adverse impact on the proposed school, and that the proposed development will not worsen air quality.

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