Former Brent Council leader and Liberal Democrat candidate for Brent North has written to Carolyn Downs, Brent Council CEO, in support of Philip Grant's position on the heritage value of 1 Morland Gardens ('Altamira'):
In 1955 the then Wembley Borough Council demolished the Barham Mansion within the grounds of Barham Park which had been the home to first the Copland sisters, and later General Crawford-Copland, and ultimately the Barham family, including Titus Barham.The Coplands and Titus Barham were major benefactors to various projects and activities within the Wembley area including Wembley Hospital, St John's Church, etc etc.The old Mansion had been used during the war and due to lack of money was neglected and in poor state of repair. Its loss is felt to this day.Brent Council has clear policies about preserving its ever diminishing heritage assets. The old Willesden Library building was preserved on two occasions despite it being in the way of new developments.The Villa at 1 Morland Gardens is clearly unique and will represent a massive loss of heritage buildings in Brent. The decision is both odd and also clearly in breach of the Council's own policy developed only a few years ago. What is the point of a heritage policy at all when it is ignored in a case like this.As you know I have been critical of the planning process in Brent. Planning officers with little connection or history with Brent have far too much power and influence and Councillors are bullied into making decisions with threats of possible appeals. Officers move on no doubt claiming on their CV the achievements of getting decisions through - however damaging those decisions may be to our local area.In this case the failure to properly follow the Council's heritage policy means that the decision should be suspended and reviewed. We simply cannot allow the destruction of the Brent's heritage in this way.I recall walking the desolation of this area in Stonebridge in the early 1970s when all the terraced houses had been demolished and replaced by the unsuitable Bison Wallframe buildings. The Villa survived that onslaught only to face demolition now when we claim that we have learned of the failed policies of 'slum' clearance.We should not make the same mistake and we should not allow for another important of Brent's heritage building assets to be lost.I trust that you will instigate an investigation and review before it is too late.