The Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has called-in the controversial Wembley Park station car park development which means he will make the decision on whether it goes ahead rather than Brent Council whose Planning Committee approved the development.
The application will be considered by the Planning Inspectorate at a public inquiry, with recommendations then going to the Minister to decide the outcome.
In a letter to Bob Blackman MP, the Planning Inspectorate said:
The Inspector instructed by the Secretary of State is T Gilbert-Wooldridge MRTPI IHBC and the inquiry will open at 10.00am on 28 September 2021. We have currently scheduled 6 sitting days (provisionally 28 Sept – 1 Oct and 4-5 October).
The Planning Casework Unit cannot forward any correspondence that was submitted to them before this case was called in. Therefore, if there are any matters which you wish to put before the Inspector, you can write to me at this address or email (email@example.com) quoting reference APP/T5150/ V/21/3275339.
You can also use the Internet to submit documents, to see information and to check the progress of cases through GOV.UK. The address of the search page is https:// acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/
Please submit any representations by 8 July.
The date by when the application will be decided will be published at the time the report is submitted to the Secretary of State.
At the Planning Committee only Cllr Michael Maurice voted against the application and Cllr Kansagra, leader of the Conservative Group said that the Council had been bribed by the developer with flats. (FULL REPORT)
Philip Grant, a regular contributor to this blog, presented a forensic analysis to the Committe based on the Council's own existing Tall Buildings policy which limited developments on the site to 10 storeys. It breached policy that had been made as a result of public consultation. He concluded:
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.
Philip's presentation followed a Guest Post he had written for Wembley Matters the day before the Planning Committee setting out his case in detail. LINK
Regardless of party politics the Inquiry represents a second chance to stop over-development of the site as well as possibly putting a stop to officer's increasing propensity to make excuses for developers' failure to adhere to the Council's own planning policies and guidelines.
Philip Grant adds this comment:
AMENITY SPACE -
Although my main objection to this planning application was over its breach of Brent's tall buildings policies, there were a number of other failures to comply with planning policies.
When I had a look at the webpage for this application (20/0967) today, I found that although Planning Committee approved it last November, Brent has not yet issued a consent letter, so the application is still "undecided" (although with no mention that the Planning Inspectorate is now involved).
The other interesting thing I noticed was that an extra document had appeared in February 2021, described as a "Post Committee Delegated Report". It's main subject was 'Amenity Space Provision'.
It appears that Brent's Amenity Space policy DMP19 had been the subject of a Judicial Review, and this had found that Brent's planning officers had not been interpreting their own policy correctly! 'The JR judgement has clarified that all 3bed or larger units should be assessed against the 50sqm
When planning officers had assessed the amenity space required for the 451 homes in the five tower blocks proposed at the Brook Avenue site, they had used 20 square metres as the standard requirement for the larger flats.
This meant that the cumulative private amenity space shortfall for the development was actually 7,498.9sqm, rather than the 6,178.9sqm reported to the Planning Committee meeting.
[To give an idea of what these figures mean, the standard professional football pitch has an area of 7,140 square metres - so the residents together would be "robbed" of more than a football pitch in size of private amenity space, if the proposals are approved.]
Did the new information make any difference? This is what the planning officers' delegated report concluded:
'it is considered that the scheme would still be acceptable in planning terms, notwithstanding the shortfall against Policy DMP19 as the external amenity space provision remains to be of sufficient size and type to satisfy the proposed residents’ needs. The amount and type of external amenity space proposed was clearly expressed to members, and it is considered that members would not have come to a different view on the proposal had the greater shortfall been reported.'