Monday 30 November 2020

£100k plus Brent Neighbourhood CIL awards

 Next Monday's Cabinet Meeting will be asked to approve Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy funding awards worth  more than £100k each. Many smaller projects have also received funding.

These are the details of the large awards:

The shortlisting criteria for all NCIL projects are as follows:

·  Meets the terms of the CIL Regulations (2010) as amended

·  Evidences community backing

·  Addresses the demands that development places on an area

·  Reflects the strategic priorities of the Council & CIL Neighbourhood

·  A one-off scheme that does not require additional revenue funding in its delivery or its operation (or identifies how additional revenue funding may be met)

·  Benefits a diverse Brent community

·  Offers value for money

· £227,272.30 for Ultra Education CIC - It Takes a Village – Black Caribbean Boys of Excellence project: Working across families, schools and communities addressing the root cause of the underachievement of Black Caribbean Boys

·  £197,561.95 for Asian Women's Resource Centre(AWRC) - Revitalise Project: To refurbish the AWRC building in Harlesden so that it is inclusive, accessible, welcoming , safe and comfortable for women, girls and children to access a range of holistic support services offered under one roof

·  £197,561.95 Mobs Ventures Ltd / Slenky Powering Change – Social, Mobile Engagement and Ethical AI Project: Developing and imbedding a digital programme aimed at engaging young people in new skills and employment that development has brought to the borough.

·  £146,698.63 EACH Counselling and Support, Strive Project: A mental health support programme for BME people to recover from the impact of Mental Health, Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse. Providing culturally sensitive Education Training Employment and counselling support.

Ultra Education – It takes a Village

1.     Ultra Education sought funds to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to increase the life chances and close the gaps in educational attainment and achievement of Black Caribbean Boys in Brent; positively tackling the disproportionate educational outcomes by bringing about a transformation in their school, community and home.

2.    The ‘It Takes a Village programme’ will provide:

·  Improved education, training, employment, and professional development within the community

·  Improved supported learning at home

·  Increased parent participation

·  Increased understanding of complex trauma within both the

School and African Caribbean communities

·  Increased long term educational attainment and achievement through improving independent learning

3.    The Project meets the CIL regulations by ensuring that regeneration has a positive impact on local communities who are not skilled to or do not have the voice to take advantage of opportunities in their environment e.g. jobs, volunteering and training. This project challenges these low expectations by strengthening the communities’ voice, improving Black Caribbean Boys attainment and skills and establishing a legacy of achievement and excellence that will be built on in following generations of young people achieving a permanent approach to address the demands of development across Brent. The project is for 18 months with a plan to sustain this project longer term with alternative funding.

4.     Project will be delivered across the Borough of Brent with community support for the project based on cross borough organisations representing the target groups.

5.    Ultra Education are registered on Companies house as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in Primary Education.

Women Asian Resource Centre - Revitalise

1.     Women Asian Resource Centre (AWRC) sought funds to refurbish the AWRC building in Harlesden so that it is inclusive, accessible, welcoming, safe and comfortable for women, girls and children to access a range of holistic support services offered under one roof.

2.    The project will

·  Renovate outside of the building, rendering of the brickwork at the front and sides.

·  Renovate ground floor to improve ventilation and improve wheelchair accessibility.

·  Renovate first floor to improve facilities for varied use of activities e.g. cooking, yoga, workshops

3.    The project meets the CIL regulations by improving facilities of a cultural hub in the community for women experiencing or have experienced abuse.

4.    The community support has been provided by a survey completed about the project proposal and capturing over 100 residents supporting the proposal primarily from Harlesden however the project will support borough wide.

5.    Asian Women Resource Centre is a registered charity that provides holistic support services to BAME women and children and prioritises work on issues around violence against women.

Mobs Ventures Ltd / Slenky

1.    Mobs Ventures Slenky sought funds to develop and implement a digital programme in Brent that connects 13 – 24 year olds with Shots (opportunities) related to their passions and interests. Shots are centralised on a content platform and distributed/targeted as social content. Future engagement is digital. Slenky digitally empowers young people, making organisations and opportunities digitally and socially accessible to all.

2.    The project will deliver for young people in Brent, including students in Brent schools

·  Free technology to search for/be notified of opportunities

·  Improved long-term employment and economic prospects

·  Improved early understanding of their Passions, interests and skills

·  Improved early understanding of the relationship between their passions and different sectors

·  Improved engagement with new and traditional sectors

·  Improved early awareness of ‘firewalled’ and out of reach sectors

·  Presented with higher earning sectors and skills at an earlier age

·  Feel empowered to independently explore and secure opportunities

·  Have increased access to non-employment opportunities e.g. cultural, well-being, sport

·  Have access to digital work experience and digital employment opportunities within the Slenky team

3.The project meets the CIL regulations by developing a sustainable digital programme that will support the engagement of young people within the new businesses and work opportunities within the growing commercial and residential developments in Brent.

4. The community support provided is a number of letters from key cross borough organisations working with young people.

5. Mobs Venture is registered on Companies house as a private limited company

EACH Counselling and Support - STRIVE

1.     The EACH counselling sought funds for running and staffing costs to deliver the STRIVE, Mental Health Support Programme over one year.

2.    The project will provide: Culturally sensitive based Employment Training and Education (ETE) and Mental Health (MH) counselling support for 150 vulnerable BMEs aged 18+ who need specialist support to identify, achieve and maintain their ETE goals and manage their MH Aims, reduce the impact of overall inequalities faced by BMEs in recovery from Domestic Violence, MH, or Substance Misuse so they achieve their ETE goals and maximise every opportunity to succeed.

3.    The Project meets the CIL regulations by meeting the significantly increasing and diverse population needs e.g. increased need and demand for specialist support will rise in line with population growth. STRIVE will provide support to people living in the allocated social housing in new developments. Both short and long-term residents living in deprivation and or financial hardship will benefit from the service and have every opportunity to success along with their counterparts living in commercial and private allocated housing in the same developments. Strive will addresses barriers to employment by providing clients with flexible support across the 4 CIL neighbourhoods in a range of community languages.

4.    Community support for the project is a number of local resident signatures supporting the project primarily from Harlesden however, project will work across borough.

5.    EACH Counselling and support is a registered charity whose principal activities are to facilitate and sustain positive changes in the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by problems arising from alcohol & drug misuse, domestic violence & related mental health concerns, by offering treatment services that are responsive high quality and provide effective & integrated interventions.

 Other funded projects

Another 19 projects were awarded below the value of £100,000 totalling £1,230,905.17. 


6 projects are addressing early intervention with children, young people and families to the value of £405,954
1 project is supporting the black community and voluntary sector - grant funding and procurement to the value of £85,995

2 projects are supporting embedding equalities to the value of £95,390
3 projects are providing support for employment and enterprise to the value of £219,503
2 projects are tackling health inequalities to the value of £167,206
3 projects are addressing the Impact of COVID19 to the value of £148,537
2 projects are addressing wider inequalities to the value of £113,359


Sunday 29 November 2020

URGENT: Brent TUC launch petition to stop closure of Wembley Ambulance Station


Sign the petition to Garrett Emmerson, Chief Executive London Ambulance NHS Trust SIGN HERE

Kilburn activist suspended by Labour Party

I understand that Pete Firmin, chair of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party has been suspended by the party for the crime of defying the edicts from the Party's General Secretary about what Party members are allowed to discuss.    

Pete who lives on the South Kilburn Estate and is a tenant association activist and a member of Brent TUC  has contributed a number of articles to Wembley Matters.

He is a man of principle and integrity and I express my solidarity, across parties, at this challenging time.

Where has all Brent's CIL and S106 money gone?

 In an aside at last week's Planning Committee when speaking against the proposed Wembley Park Station 'Five Tower', Cllr Kansagra, said that Brent Council had lots of unspent Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 money in its coffers and gave the figure of £126,000,000.

We will be able to check on that claim by looking at the first Brent Annual Infrastructure Funding Statement  for the year 2019-2020 that will go to Cabinet on Monday December 7th.  Given the controversy about the use of the funding that there is in the borough,  it would  help allay concern if the Statement was called in for Scrutiny.

You will find some extracts below which help give an overall view and further full details and explanations can be found in the very extensive report. 75% of CIL is labelled Strategic CIL (SCIL) and used for infrastructure projects, 5% for managing CIL and the rest for Neighbourhood CIL (NCIL) - used for local community led projects after a bidding and selection process.

£63m unallocated and therefore unspent

Note the difference between 'allocated' and 'spent'.

So at the end of the year 2019-20 there was £105m in the SCIL coffer and £14m in NCIL - £119m rounded

So about half of the NCIL collected in 2019-20  £2m) was spent on neighbourhood projects  but the amount retained, including from previous years, was £14m.

Barnhill and Preston wards are missing but may be covered by multi-wards. A lot depends on how organised councillors and community groups in their wards are in terms of putting in bids. Again this is 'allocated' not spent. Often there is underspend and in 2019-20 it would have beenimpacted by Covid restrictions at the end of year.

The individual projects allocated funds and the amount spent can be found in the full report (Table 6) it covers 7 pages.

£4.7m of Section 106  appears to have been carried forward and not allocated to any project.  Added to the £119m on SCIL and NCIL it amounts to £124m - not far off Cllr Kansangra's figure.

Affordable units in developments were secured as part of the Section 106 deal. A good use of S106.

Underspend probably the result of Covid lockdown.

Full report here include indications of future expenditure on infrastructure that would use up some of the retained funds. Click bottom right corner for full page version.

'Finding your Brave' - Brent's Children's Poems for Children's Mental Health Week

The theme of Children's Mental Health Week was 'Funding Your Brave' and many Brent children entered poems for a competition. LINK Their many entries are displayed in Wembley Park opposite the Premier Inn, between the LDO and White Horse Bridge, on full size billboards. It is well worth spending some time reading them and appreciating the level of insight and empathy on display.

These are the three winning entries:



Thursday 26 November 2020

'Flagrant breach of Brent planning policy' Wembley Park Station application passed by Brent Planning Committee


The Wembley Park Station car park application is the 5 dark green blocks at the bottom right of the image. Planning Officers claimed that they were part of the overall Wembley Park high-rise area rather than the suburban area in which their own image shows they are clearly situated. The railway line, Bridge Road and Empire Way form a physical enclosure and boundary of the high rise area around the stadium.

Brent Planning Committee tonight approved the planning application for the Wembley Park Station car park which will see the construction of 5 tower blocks on Brook Avenue.

Philip Grant made a powerful presention on the Brook Avenue - Wembley Park station planning application this evening demonstrating how it breached Brent Council's own planning policies.  Nevertheless the Planning Committee went ahead and approved the application with only one vote, that of Cllr Maurice, against.

This is what Philip said:

Paragraphs 44 to 52 of the Officers Report give a confused view of Brent’s planning policy on tall buildings for this site. I will explain those policies clearly, using the objectors’ document supplied to you.

The current policy, on page 1, is WEM 5, in the Wembley Area Action Plan, adopted by the Council in 2015. This says that ‘Tall buildings will be acceptable in a limited number of locations within the AAP area.

At page 2, you can see the locations on the Tall Buildings Strategy map. The station car park is in the red area – Sites inappropriate for Tall Buildings’.

There was a specific site called “Wembley Park Station Car Park” in that Action Plan. This was the site where Matthews Close was built, with blocks between 5 and 8 storeys high - a scale identified as suitable for this mainly residential area.

The Brent Design Guide, SPD1, adopted in November 2018, is another policy covering this application. Under Principle 3.1 it states: ‘Tall buildings will only be encouraged in areas identified as appropriate for tall buildings.’

The Officers Report says that you should be guided by Brent’s emerging Local Plan. The 2015 Wembley AAP policies still take precedence within that Plan, subject to any locally specific details.

The Station Car Park is a specific site, BCSA7, in that Local Plan. If you look at the copy provided on page 4, you’ll see that this application’s southern site has an indicative capacity for 300 homes, and that: ‘Up to ten storeys will be considered acceptable to the western side of the site, stepping up slightly directly adjacent to the station.

Those are the planning policies on which you should decide this matter.

Committee members, please don’t allow yourselves to be fooled into accepting an application which doesn’t comply with the policies adopted by Brent Council, after consultation with its residents.

This application is a flagrant breach of those policies, and you can, and should, refuse it on those grounds.

 Cllr Kennelly, councillor for the relevant ward, Preston, and soon to be on the Planning Committee himself, made a neutral presentation. He thought that the development wasn't in keeping with the local area, it fell outside the designated tall buildings area, the tallest was nearly three times as tall as the existing tallest building in  the road, and that the attempt to make up deficiencies in amenity space meant provision of balconies facing each other that would impact on privacy.  He welcomes the provision of affordable housing but said that shared ownership would not have been his choice. Answering a question from the Committee he said that a CPZ might alleviate parking issues but would be a long-term cost to local residents, even if initially funded by the developer.

Cllr Liz Dixon, a member of the Commitee said that Philip Grant's presentation had been well articulated but asked what he thought the damage would be to the area. He replsed that the height of the blocks would overshadow neighbouring properties and cut out the light of new homes that were only built a few years ago. It was over-development and breached policy that was the result of public consultation.

Cllr Kansagra said it was wrong that the Council spent so much time on the Wembley Area Action Plan only to ignore it. He said that the developer had bribed Brent Council with flats.  He went on to complain more broadly that Brent Council had £126m of CIL and Section 106 money unspent in its coffers. Covid had taught us that space is important - the development was too dense with little amenity space.


Responding, an officer claim that the 'emerging local plan' anticipates that this is a site for tall buildings and that tall buildings should be built around transport hubs, which Wembley Park station on train and bus routes, demonstrably was. Furthermore, both sides of Brook Avenue, beyond its current surburban character, was designated as a site for tall buildings as was part of nearby Forty Avenue thatit leads to. (Forty Avenue is far bottom right - outside the image)

Planning Officer David Glover took me aback when he remarked, 'We are not saying that that 21 storeys is slightly above 10 storeys.' He went on to argue that there would be a loss of viability and thus of affordable homes, if the propsed blocks were lower in height.

Another Planning Officer made my jaw drop when responding to the issue of Covid in high density developments, he said Covid would be gone by the summer and we don't have to worry about it.

There was a very long discussion led by Cllr Maurice on the amount of car parking available in the road that he claimed was already over-parked and would be hit by many of the up to 900 additional residents in a supposedly car-free development seeking a parking space. In addition the 80 or so people who used the station car park would be looking for parking space in the nearby streets.  There will some disabled parking in the development and spaces for transport personnel who drive in  before the trains start running and drive home after the last trains.  There was debate over the extent to which a CPZ would just displace competition for parking to streets further afield. Residents on Twitter testified to how in normal times the station car park was full by 8am, contrary to planners claim that it was underused.

The Planning Committee is not supposed to be political but the only dissent when it came to the vote was the single Conservative councillor, Cllr Maurice. Aside from parking his objection was based on the density of the development in what he considered a suburban area and clear breaches of specific and current Brent policies.  He was used to breaches of guidelines but policy was a different matter.

Gladstone Parade pulled off tonight's Planning Committee Agenda

 Item 6 , Gladstone Parade, has been withdrawn from this evening's Planning Committee.  The original application had already been approved but the developer was seeking  changes in the the distribution of housing and a different form of tenure.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

The famous Wembley Stadium Pedway has gone


 Following labour and machine  intensive demolition over the last few days the Pedway is no more! 

Thanks to Daniels Estate Agents for the video.

Wembley Park Station car park – a TALL story

Guest post by Philip Grant. This planning application will be decided by Brent Planning Committee tomorrow, Thursday November 26th. The meeting starts at 6pm and can be viewed HERE


Elevation drawing from the planning application with heights added

What is a tall building? For Brent planning purposes it’s one that is more than 30 metres in height (ten storeys), or more than 6 metres above the general prevailing heights of the surrounding area.

The proposed Barratt London / TfL development which Planning Committee will consider tomorrow evening (Thursday 26 November, 6pm) is definitely a tall building (or five of them). You can see more pictures of this planning application in Martin’s 2 November blog.


Brent’s Planners, in the Key Issues comments at the start of their Officers Report to the committee accept that ‘the development would exceed the policy expectations in respect of tall buildings’. I think they should have been clearer than that, so let me take you through the tall buildings planning policies which cover the Wembley Park Station car park site. I’ll begin with my “old friend”, the Wembley Area Action Plan (“WAAP”).


Foreword to the Wembley Area Action Plan, 2015.


When Brent’s then Lead Member for Regeneration (now Deputy Leader) writes to say that this Plan, adopted by the Council after wide consultation with the local community, will determine ‘how Wembley develops over the next 15 years’, you would think you could trust her words. And you can, because the WAAP’s policies still apply, and form part of the Draft Local Plan that is currently being finalised.


The WAAP has a tall buildings policy, WEM 5. It’s opening words are: ‘Tall buildings will be acceptable in a limited number of locations within the AAP area.’ The locations where tall buildings are, or may be, appropriate are shown on a map. Wembley Park Station car park is in “the red zone”, labelled ‘Sites inappropriate for Tall Buildings’.


The Tall Buildings map from the WAAP.


One of the specific sites (W22) identified in the WAAP for particular proposals was called “Wembley Park Station Car Park”. However, that was the western end of the original car park, not the present site with that name. This is where Matthews Close was built, with blocks between 5 and 8 storeys high - a scale identified as suitable for the mainly residential area of Brook Avenue.


Brent Council adopted a new comprehensive set of Development Management Policies in November 2016 (as seen in an earlier blog on another planning case in August!). These did not set out any new policies on tall buildings, but it did confirm that ‘policies within the Wembley Area Action Plan will take precedence where there are locally specific policies covering subjects that might also be covered’ by the DMP and the forthcoming Local Plan.


Another “supplementary planning document” which will form part of the new Local Plan, when it is finalised, is the Brent Design Guide, SPD1. Its policies were adopted by the Council in November 2018. SPD1 has a section on ‘Density, height and massing’, which includes guidance on sites appropriate for tall buildings. Under Principle 3.1 it states: ‘Tall buildings will only be encouraged in areas identified as appropriate for tall buildings.’ As we have seen above, the Wembley Park Station car park is a site inappropriate for tall buildings!


A page from the Brent Design Guide, SPD1, dealing with building heights.


As well as this confirmation over tall buildings, SPD1 goes on to set out the rules for heights on all other sites. These include that ‘sensitive design should ensure that new development respects the character of the wider surroundings’, and that ‘new development should positively respond to the height of the adjoining buildings and local area’.


I’ve already made mention of Brent’s Draft Local Plan, which has been through several phases of local consultation and is currently undergoing a final review to ensure that it complies with both the National Planning Policy Framework and the London Plan. It should come into force next year, and shape Brent’s planning policies for the next 20 years, so that it’s right that how it would affect the Wembley Park Station car park application is taken into account.


The Draft Local Plan does include a site-specific policy for Wembley Park Station (BCSA7), covering two sites. For the southern site, the narrow strip of land between the railway lines and Brook Avenue, it identifies an indicative capacity for 300 new homes.


The Wembley Park Station site plan from Brent’s Draft Local Plan (Stage 3).


Details for the Wembley Park Station sites from the Draft Local Plan.


As shown above, the WAAP tall buildings policy, under which this site is inappropriate for tall buildings, still forms part of the planning policies within the Local Plan. The proposals for the southern site respect that, with just a small adjustment. You will remember that a tall building is one of more than ten storeys, and the design details for this site say: ‘Up to ten storeys will be considered acceptable to the western side of the site, stepping up slightly directly adjacent to the station.


One of the key purposes the Draft Local Plan has been designed to do is to deliver the housing target of providing over 2,000 new homes in the borough every year for the next 20 years. The Wembley Park Station car park site can provide the 300 homes which the Plan requires from it, with buildings no more than ten storeys high, possibly rising to twelve storeys next to the station. Any proposed new development on this site does not need to breach Brent’s tall buildings planning policies.


The Barratt London / TfL proposed development offers 454 new homes (152 of which would be “affordable”, but with 79 for sale as “shared ownership” and only 73 for “affordable rent”). But it clearly breaks the Council’s tall buildings planning policies. What does the Officer Report to Planning Committee say about that? This is just one of nine paragraphs on the subject:


’47. Whilst the Wembley Area Action Plan (WAAP) forms part of the development plan for the area, as it is the adopted policy, the emerging changes to policy as observed within BD2 of the emerging Local Plan are to be acknowledged and stand testament to the substantial increase in housing targets that have come into relevance since the publishing of the WAAP. Furthermore, emerging London Plan policy can now be afforded substantial weight and the sustainability of this location immediately adjacent to Wembley Park Station would identify it as a preferred site for maximising development opportunities. Wembley Park Station is the only tube station in Brent to be served by more than one London Underground line and its 6a PTAL rating underlines its sustainability.’


Heavy going! It’s not easy to follow exactly what the relevant planning policy is. You could easily think that they don’t intend you to, so that you'll just assume that they must know what they’re talking about, and accept their recommendation!


Policy BD2, from Brent’s Draft Local Plan.


Para. 47 (above) of the Officers Report refers to Policy BD2, as if it supports tall buildings on the station car park site. But BD2 only supports tall buildings in appropriate locations. The online version of the policies map it refers to is difficult to read, because it has so much detail, but this site appears to be within the overall “tall buildings zone”, but not in the Core Zone. This suggests that the site allocation details for BCSA7 above, which allow a slight stepping-up to a tall building at the station end of the site, should prevail.


Para. 51 of the Report does provide a couple of lighter moments, even if unintentionally. How about this one? ‘The buildings proposed would serve as a place-marker for the station.’ Imagine the scene:-


Visitor: “I need to get to Wembley Park Station. Can you tell me where it is, please?”

Helpful local resident: “Yes. It’s next door to a tall building in Wembley Park.”


Or this one – ‘A significant reduction in height from 30 storeys at this scheme’s initial pre-app stage is also acknowledged and has resulted in a building which establishes a reasonable maximum height.’


A man walks into Brent’s Planning Office, and says: ‘I want to build a tower block three times higher than your planning policies allow.’

Brent Planner: ‘I’m sorry, sir, we can’t accept that. We can only recommend a building that’s twice as tall.’


If a comedian said that, you might well laugh at his joke. But this is not “a tall story” * – it’s exactly what Brent’s Planning Committee is being asked to agree.


Philip Grant.


* If you are not familiar with the phrase “a tall story”, it’s colloquial English for ‘one that is difficult to believe’ (Oxford Reference Dictionary).