Masterplan for the site
The massive scheme for the Northwick Park partnership scheme comes back to Brent Planning Committee on Monday. for outline permission. The partners are Brent Council, University of Westminster, NW London NHS and Network Housing:
20/0700 | Outline planning permission (with all matters reserved apart from the means of access) for demolition of existing buildings on site and provision of up to 1,600 homes and up to 51,749 sqm (GIA) of new land use floorspace within a series of buildings, with the maximum quantum as follows: -(Use Class C3) Residential: up to 1,600 homes; -up to 50,150m2 floor space (GIA) of new student facilities including Student Accommodation, Teaching facilities, Sports facilities, and ancillary retail and commercial (Use Class A1, A2, A3) -up to 412sqm floorspace (GIA) of a replacement nursery (Use Class D1) -up to 1187sqm (GIA) of flexible new retail space (Use Class A1, A2, A3) Together with energy centre, hard and soft landscaping, open space and associated highways improvements and infrastructure works This application is subject to an Environmental Statement | Land adjacent to Northwick Park Hospital, Nightingale Avenue, London, HA1
Readers will be familiar with the university buildings on the right as you leave Northwick Park station with a Costa cafe at the entrance and the wildflower meadow on the right as you walk down the alley to the hospital. The university gave up maintaining the meadow on the basis that it was 'too expensive' to maintain a few years ago - from the illustration above it appears it will be built on.
The ecological impact of the whole scheme has been raised by Sudbury Court Residents Association. Officers respond in a Supplementary Report:
Ecological impact: loss of 387 trees with no details for replacement tree planting. Officer response: It is not always possible to avoid the loss of some trees in bringing new developments forward, however Brent's policies allow for these to be compensated for by replacement tree planting of an appropriate scale and nature. The loss of 130 trees on the Hospital ring road has been accepted in the extant consent to construct the new spine road (reference 20/0677) whilst the loss of 44 trees has been accepted in Planning Committee's resolution to grant permission for the detailed application (reference20/0701), however this is subject to the planting of 208 replacement trees secured by condition, resulting in a net uplift in the number of trees. The remaining 213 trees that would be lost as a result of the later phases of the outline development would also be replaced. Further details of tree planting would be submitted and approved as part of the landscaping scheme required under Condition 33, which requires at least 387replacement trees to be planted across the outline site. The impact on trees is discussed in paragraphs 184to 193 of the main report.
Ecological impact: removal of trees during bird nesting season and period of bat movement out of hibernation Officer response: The applicant's Ecology Report recommends a number of precautionary measures to avoid or minimise impacts on protected species and other wildlife in the construction period. These include bat inspections prior to felling of any mature trees, measures to be taken if bats or other protected species are observed, vegetation and building removal to take place outside the bird nesting season or in the presence of an ecologist, and protection of active bird nests. These measures would be secured through a Construction Environmental Management Plan required under Condition 28, and the developer would also be subject to the requirements of protected species legislation. See paragraph 206.
Ecological impact: loss of bird and bat populations and other ecological benefits of trees (shelter, food and breeding opportunities for wildlife, clean air) due to loss of trees. Officer response: Although birds were observed on or close to the site, the site overall is very low in suitability for protected and rare bird species or other protected and priority species. No evidence of bat activity or bat roosts was found, and very low numbers of foraging and commuting bats were observed and detected in the area. The tree line along the boundary with Northwick Park would be retained and reinforced by new tree planting, however it is acknowledged that construction work and the removal of some trees near the boundary could result in a temporary loss of and disturbance to habitats, and a financial contribution to ecological enhancements in Northwick Park would be secured as compensation. The proposal would create new habitats of potential ecological value, including rain gardens, and further ecological appraisals would be required post-completion. Ecological impacts are discussed in paragraph 198 to 208 of the main report.
Ecological impact: Tree saplings will not compensate for loss of mature tree stock or well established wildlife foraging lines. Officer response: The proposals for replacement tree planting are expected to include a mixture of semi-mature and younger trees.
Further measures requested to reduce increase in pollution and congestion. Officer response: Traffic generation is covered in paragraphs 296 to 303 and 323 of the main report. Travel Plans would be required, to encourage and reinforce sustainable travel choices by occupiers of the development (see paragraphs 322 and 323). These measures are considered sufficient to minimise additional traffic caused by the development.
Details of plans to reduce congestion and pollution in surrounding roads requested, including Watford Road and Sudbury Court Estate. Officer response: As set out in paragraph 303 of the main report, the proposals are expected to reduce congestion, and consequently pollution, on Watford Road. The proposal is unlikely to directly impact on Sudbury Court Estate, as there is no direct vehicular access. An Active Travel Zone Assessment was carried out by the applicants, identifying barriers to sustainable travel choices in the wider area, and this is summarised in paragraphs 324 to 326 of the main report.
Further details requested of how bat survey was carried out in line with current best practice. Officer response: These details are set out in the Environmental Statement Volume 3: Appendix: Ecology, which is available on the Council's website. A bat assessment was carried out by an experienced and licensed ecologist, following English Nature Bat Mitigation Guidelines (2004) and Bat Conservation Trust Best Practice Guidelines (2016). The document sets out equipment used, inspection methods, and an assessment of the bat roosting potential of all buildings, trees and habitats on site. Some trees were identified as having moderate and above bat roosting potential, and the Social Club building as having low bat potential. Further surveys were carried out, comprising four dusk emergence / activity surveys and two dawn re-entry / activity surveys in various locations around the site with potential for roosting, foraging or commuting. No evidence of bat activity was observed, and no bat roosts were discovered. Ecological impacts are covered in paragraphs 198 to 208 of the main report.
Further details of replacement tree planting as soon as available. Officer response: Further details of replacement tree planting would be secured under Condition 33.
In October last year a councillor for Northwick Park ward expressed concern over ecological issues in a 'neutral' submission and concluded:
Mitigation and protection will not be an easy task here, but is achievable I'm sure. May I remind everyone that this is predominantly a rural site will many SSI areas and not a urban brownfield site, yes there are substantial concrete building, but they are home to Bats, Kestrels and now Peregrine Falcons (recently witnesses from the upper floor of the hospital block), on ground levels there are without doubt Hedgehogs, Badgers, Weasels and many more species just wondering around the secluded areas around the concrete buildings.
I am all for improvements to the site's housing and facilities, but we must protect as well ? Brent Council did declare a Climate Emergency and wildlife obviously is part of this, take our Bee Corridors for instance.
The officers' report includes many of the now familiar reasons why they recommend approval despite the application not meeting some policy guidelines of which the amount of affordable housing, as well as the number of Shared Ownership properties are likely to be of concern to councillors
The proposal would provide 40% (by habitable room) affordable homes (including 13% for London Affordable Rent). While the overall proportion of London Affordable Rented homes is not in line with the percentage specified in DMP15, it has been demonstrated that the scheme would deliver the maximum reasonable number of Affordable homes on a policy compliant basis(70:30 ratio of London Affordable Homes to Intermediate), but with additional Affordable Homes delivered, lowering the levels of profit associated with the scheme. These would be delivered as intermediate rented homes, London Living Rent homes and shared ownership homes, and would including housing for NHS keyworkers. Appropriate nominations agreements will be secured within the Section 106 Agreement. The Financial Viability Appraisal submitted with the application has been robustly reviewed on behalf of the Council and is considered to demonstrate that the proposal delivers beyond the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing that the scheme can support. Early, mid- and late stage review mechanisms would be secured. The overall proportion of family-sized homes (16.6%) is below the levels set out in Brent's adopted and emerging policies. However, a higher proportion would further undermine the viability of the scheme and the provision of Affordable Housing, and the benefits associated with the provision of Affordable Housing are considered to outweigh the impacts associated with the lower proportion of family housing. Affordable student accommodation would be secured as part of the development of the University Campus.
The application refers to 'Northwick Village' - 1,600 is a pretty big village, and blocks are not particularly village-like. Here are some of the 'impressions' in the plans.
The Planning Committee is on Monday March 29th at 4pm. You can watch it live HERE