Tuesday 9 March 2021

UPDATED: Denser and higher North East lands revised planning application in Wembley Park recommended for approval by officers - Planning Committee 4pm this afternoon


View from Bridge Road - green marks proposed development

Changes in height proposed (click on image to try and enlarge)

Brent Planning Committee on Wednesday March 10th is at the earlier time of 4pm. This of course makes it hard for residents who wish to make representations about developments that affect them to attend. The main application submitted is for the North East Lands area which includes housing blocks, towers and a park. Watch the livestream of the meeting HERE.

Brent Council decided that the revision did not need to go out to formal consultation as it was already a consented application and the changes did not affect the overall scheme to a significant extent and so a Section 73 application was valid.

The revisions mean a reduction in height in some cases but as the diagram shows increases in others.

This objection summarises what many of the objectors had to say. Many were from existing residents of blocks in the area who have found themselves facing new developments which throw their building into shadow as the height and density increases.

I am a resident of Marathon House and I strongly object to Quintain's attempt to revise this planning application (no. 20/2844)

If accepted, the revision will permit the building opposite Marathon House (building NE03) to double in height from 60 feet to 120 feet, blocking any sunlight from coming in to Marathon House. Further, it will move the block 6.5m closer to Marathon House on what is already a narrow street.

I therefore object to the revision for the following reasons:

-The proposed change will significantly affect the quality of life and wellbeing of Marathon House residents whose access to sunlight will be blocked. A study commissioned by Quintain themselves even states that almost all windows in Marathon House will face a minor, moderate or major loss of sunlight from what has been originally planned under this application - this loss is in addition to the fact that Marathon House was already set to lose access to a certain amount of light under the original plans. From paragraph 4.3.50 of the Supplementary Environmental Statement, I can see that my property will experience a moderate/major loss of sunlight. 

- Further, the study does not take into account that Marathon House has balconies which extend out of the building. This means that the study commissioned by Quintain is not an accurate reflection of just how negatively the proposed change will impact residents - the real life impact will be worse. Moreover, given that Quintain are wanting to also move NE03 closer to Marathon House, residents will no longer be able to enjoy the privacy of their own balconies. 

- Clearly this is not a minor alteration - it is a material change and therefore warrants to be considered under a new application, not under a Section 73 application.

- There is absolutely no reason for Quintain to justifiably need this building to be so tall. It will not improve the area which has already undergone significant development. The changes evidently do not have the area's best interests in mind. 

- The Council should balance the negative impact on residents/the local area if the revision is permitted against the negative impact on Quintain if it is not. As already stated above, residents will lose sunlight, privacy and space, affecting their quality of life and wellbeing if this application is accepted. The area will suffer from being congested and aesthetically unpleasant. In contrast, if it is refused, the impact on Quintain is negligible, given in particular that they have already benefitted from the mass redevelopment of the area and will still be redeveloping the entire Yellow Car Park area. 

- The taller building will overshadow the much needed but limited green space in the area. We also understand that the size of the green space in the Yellow Car Park redevelopment is going to be significantly reduced, meaning the overcrowding in it has already been increased since the original plans were drawn up. There is no need to exacerbate this problem further. 

- The location of the tall building also makes no sense given its placement as against the new landmark Canada Gardens. Surely, the most logical place for such a tall building to be is on the same side as Canada Gardens on the outer edge of the yellow car park. It also detracts from the attraction of the stadium. 

- Typically, Quintain do consult with residents on developments in the local area with us and we have generally been quite supportive of their work. It is therefore extremely disappointing that we have not been consulted about this hugely material change - one wonders whether Quintain knew of the serious problem this would cause the residents and therefore tried to get the revision through quietly. 

- Quintain themselves have previously objected to the loss of light from the development of tall buildings on Watkin Road - it is therefore hypocritical of them to impose the same negative impact on others. 

- The Council should also consider that under paragraph 2.5 of the Brent Local Plan Development Management Policies, it is acknowledged that the development is required to create a high quality environment "addressing issues like space between buildings, privacy, outlook, daylighting, shadowing, microclimates and amenity space". Clearly, the revision proposed by Quintain will do the exact opposite. 

For the reasons stated above, I see no reasonable outcome other than to refuse this application.


The officers' report looks at the issue of 'protected views' of the stadium but as previously they find the impact tolerable. This is an example from the comparatively new Chalkhill Park (the green line represents the proposed development, the pink the comulative and yellow the emerging) As you can see one block rises up almost to the top of the stadium arch:


View from Chalkhill Park

The report does sometimes feel like gaslighting:

In Chalkhill Park  existing views towards the Stadium arch are partly obscured by trees and existing and consented tall buildings. At the position assessed in the 2018 ES, the tip of the tall building proposed on Plot NE02 would conceal part of the Stadium arch, however a new tree now obscures much of that view. Moving right of that position to avoid the tree, the Stadium arch is seen more clearly, though still partially obscured on either side by trees at the edge of the park. The proposed tall building on Plot NE03 would be set lower than NE02 and would allow the Stadium arch to be read fully above it. The taller element on NE02 would appear to the right of the arch and would be largely obscured by the trees at the edge of the park. The tall building outlined in green within the centre of the arch is the tallest part of NE05 (which is unchanged from the consented scheme in this application). The curved profile of the arch would remain clearly legible, and would dominate the view to the distance beyond the trees and tall buildings. It is considered that the visibility and distinctive character of the Stadium arch would be preserved.

A second cumulative scenario has been provided for the Chalkhill Park view  which includes two schemes which have a resolution to grant consent (Euro House planning application ref: 20/2033 and Watkin Road (Strawberry Star) planning application ref: 20/0587). The Euro House scheme would appear to the left of the arch. The Watkin Road (Strawberry Star) scheme towards the centre and right of the arch would almost fully obscure Plots NE02 and NE03. The part of NE02 not obscured by the Strawberry Star scheme would be set well to the right of the Stadium arch and would be almost entirely hidden by trees. The profile of the Stadium arch would still be legible on the skyline and the top of the arch would not be impacted by either the proposed scheme or the Strawberry Star scheme.

 Elsewhere the revised amount of sunlight in the proposed North Park is reduced from 99.6% of the area seeing at least 2 hours of sunlight to 91.5% - a reduction of 8.1% but still seen as 'adequate.'

Concern about loss of light to existing blocks is not seen as a serious issue in the wider context.  Here are some key points from the officers' report and the final conclusion:


Major regeneration projects will inevitably have an impact on surrounding developments and in many cases will lead to a degree of light loss. 


Notwithstanding this, proposed developments should be designed to keep any adverse impacts within reasonable limits. In terms of the design of the proposed development in relation to the surrounding developments, it is important to note the following: 


The proposed development would be set within an existing densely developed urban environment in which neighbouring developments are tall and built close to the edge of the footpath and the centre line of the adjacent road. This relationship manifestly reduces the amount of light these properties will receive when the surrounding area is developed. 


In December 2020, the applicant made a number of significant changes from the originally submitted plans (September 2020) which have had beneficial impacts on daylight and sunlight of neighbouring properties. These included moving buildings further away from neighbouring properties and reducing the height of some buildings. 


The buildings proposed along Rutherford Way would almost all be lower in height than those opposite. For example, Marathon House is 49.21m above ground level (82.5m AOD) whereas the proposed NE03 building directly opposite would be 33.72m above ground level (67.2m AOD). 


The buildings proposed along Rutherford Way be set back a greater distance from the centre point of the road than those on the opposite side of the road. For example, the main façade of Marathon House is around 10.9m from the road centreline, whereas the NE03 building directly opposite would be 14.6m from the road centreline. 


The building of NE01 would be set back a greater distance from the centre point of the Fulton Road than those on the opposite side of the road. 


‘Mirror massing’ is a recognised BRE assessment approach whereby the impact of a proposed scheme is compared to the impact that would be experienced if a ‘mirror image’ of the existing development were to be constructed. If the existing Rutherford Way buildings were replicated as a mirror image on the opposite side of the road, the impact on neighbouring daylight and sunlight would be worse than the impact of the proposed scheme. 


Whilst it is important to ensure that acceptable daylight and sunlight conditions are achieved for surrounding properties, full compliance with BRE guidelines is rarely achieved in dense urban locations such as this. Indeed, the BRE guidance itself notes that it should be taken as guidance rather than a rigid set of rules and the guidance was formulated to be most appropriately applied to lower density suburban environments rather than dense urban environments. The BRE guidance acknowledges (paragraph 1.6) that ‘In special circumstances, the developer or planning authority may wish to use different target values. For example, in a historic city centre, or in an area with modern high rise buildings, a higher degree of obstruction may be unavoidable if new developments are to match the height and proportions of existing buildings.’ 



The proposed amendments to the previously approved parameters plans would enable a revised scheme to be delivered which would provide a number of benefits over the previously approved outline plans. The proposed amended scheme is considered to be in keeping with the vision for how development in the Wembley regeneration area is to take place, and would introduce activity and vitality in this area whilst creating a pleasant environment along Rutherford Way and a welcoming link to the Northern Park. Based on the illustrative images, the building designs would deliver an attractive and contemporary scheme, the final quality of which would be secured through the submission of detailed plans at Reserved Matters stage and the approval of appropriate materials through condition.

An increase in the density of elements of the scheme through increased heights and moving building lines closer to existing residential properties would inevitably have some impacts in terms of daylight, sunlight and overshadowing levels for existing properties and the Northern Park. However, on balance, and taking into account the wider regenerative benefits of the scheme, it is considered that these impacts would be within reasonable limits and acceptable amenity levels would still be maintained.

Taken as a whole, the revised scheme accords with the relevant planning policies and guidance and it is therefore recommended that the proposed amendments set out within this Section 73 planning application are approved.


After this post was published commenters asked about the proposed North Park. The revised application makes the changes below:


 Initial Plan


Revised Plan


G.Lee said...

what about a corresponding increase in infrastructure? Where is the park or open space for all these new residents? They have no gardens, and the pandemic has shown how important it is for people to have some outside space to exercise, and experience nature! This overcrowding of high-rise will assuredly cause problems in the future. Families aren't supposed to live like this, that why the previous high rise estates : Stonebridge, South Kilburn and Chalkhill were demolished. The 'powers that be' said those homes weren't fit to raise families in. So whats changed?

Jaine Lunn said...

Once again I ask the questions....
"Where is the Park in Wembley Park?"
"What and where is the Northern Park?
"Where is the 6.2 acres that were promised 10+ years ago?"

Martin Francis said...

Hello, the North(ern) park is mentioned in the text. I have edited the article to include the original plan and the revised version. Remember that this will be surrounded by high blocks.

Philip Grant said...

Northern Park:

According to the Design and Access Statement submitted in support of the revised application, by reducing the amount of water (what was originally going to be a lake will now be a small pond) they have increased the amount of space within the park, to provide for the increased number of people who will have to use it as their main public open space.

Despite blocks NE02 and NE03 now cutting into the park, and the fact that these will provide a vertical wall, 19 storeys high, along its western side, there will still be "plenty of room" for people to enjoy it!

On Quintain's figures, the total capacity of the park will be 8286 people (standing). However, if they have to stand 1 metre apart, that capacity will be reduced to 6215 people, and if (for social distancing) they need to stand 2 metres apart, only 1553 people can be fitted into the park at the same time.

I always thought that parks were supposed to be places to relax, and enjoy the open space and fresh air - those figures make the Northern Park sound more like a cattle market!

Protected views:

Brent has an adopted planning policy on protected views of the Stadium. It acknowledges that:

'Views of the Stadium contribute a significant amount to the perception of Wembley as a whole, performing a range of functions that add a layer of depth to the visual experience of the area,' and goes on to say:

'The council will therefore protect a range of short, middle and long distance views of the National Stadium.'

Once again, Brent's planners are ignoring what the Council's adopted planning policy actually says.

Not only are they ignoring the fact that it is views of the Stadium they are meant to ensure are protected, not just the stadium arch, they are once again recommending an application which takes more little bites out of the view of that arch.

To justify this by saying that, if you stand in the right place in Chalkhill Park, the "protected view" that will be lost because of the new buildings will be hidden behind a tree, demonstrates the level to which planning in Brent has sunk.

Philip Grant said...

I'm watching and listening to the Planning Committee meeting.

The diagram which Planning Officers are using to combat Marathon House objections to their loss of light, with Marathon House on the right and NE03 on the left of Rutherford Way, only shows the western half of the proposed building on Plot NE03.

It does NOT show the other block on the eastern (Northern Park) side of Plot NE03, with a much higher block (19 storeys, I believe) which the revised plans have made 60 metres higher than originally approved, to make up for the much smaller reduction (c. 6 metres) in the height of the block nearest to Marathon House.

Councillors are clearly concerned with the loss of light that existing residents will suffer. I hope that they stick up for the many residents objecting to this application, rather than accept the "planner speak" of the officers trying to justify Quintain's application.

Anonymous said...

This is all a money making scheme. The rent for some of these flats are ridiculous roughly around £250 +per week. We need to keep as much green areas. The fact that we have nearly had to be confined to our properties for almost a year, should indicate that for peoples mental health we need green spaces. We as residents have had to put up with traffic. Noise pollution. Dust and exhaust fumes pollution.

Unknown said...

Money talks. Just think how more Brent Council has got in council Taxes from the new development around the Stadium.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have a sunlight or overshadowing report for this development? We have been living in 10 watkin for a year, and seeing all the plans, we are going to lose what looks like all natural direct sunlight in to our flat.