Mumbai Junction restaurant (formerly John Lyon pub)
The rejected development
Exercising their delegated responsibilities Brent Council Planning officers have refused the planning application for 231 Watford Road, the site of the Mumbai Junction restaurant, formerly the John Lyon pub.
The Officer's report LINK notes that there were 485 comments received during the course of the application of which only 2 were in support of the proposal. An overwhelming majority for the objectors.
Objections were also received from Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North and Cllr Keith Perrin and Cllr Margaret McLennan (Deputy Leader of Brent Council).
Local residents' association Sudbury Court and Sudbury Town also objected.
Interestingly the report also notes that the 'occupier' of 231 Watford Road submitted a letter of support with 44 signatures.
The developer could Appeal to the Secretary of State over the refusal.
The grounds officers give for refusing the application will repay careful study by any residents responding to developments in the future:
1 The proposed development by reason of its scale, design, bulk, massing and siting in relation to the suburban context of the site would appear as an excessively bulky building which would result in a poor transition to the suburban housing immediately to the south of the application site. The development would be detrimental to the character of the area and the street scene, contrary to Policy CP17 of Brent's Core Strategy 2010, policy DMP1 within Brent's Development Management Policy 2016, policies DMP1 and BD1 of Brent's Draft Local Plan 2020 and the guidance within Brent's Design Guide SPD 2018.
2 Based on the information provided the application has failed to fully assess the relationship between the proposed building and nearby Conservation Area. Therefore the proposal fails to demonstrate that the proposal will have an appropriate relationship with the Sudbury Court Conservation Area. The application therefore fails to comply with Policies DMP1 and DMP7 of the Development Management Policies 2016 and Policies BHC1 and BD1 of the Draft Local Plan and policy HC1 of the London Plan 2021.
3 The proposal would result in a poor standard of accommodation for future residents, by virtue of the following reasons:
- The bedroom serving G.01 would be located within close proximity to the main entrance of the development.
- Positioning of the south facing bedroom serving Unit G. 02
- The bedroom within Unit G.05 located to north would also obtain poor levels of outlook.
The proximity between the proposed flats to the rear of the site and the existing sub station would result in a poor relationship to the detriment of future occupiers based on the information submitted with the application. No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the future occupiers would not be adversely affected in health terms in respect of the substation in terms of electromagnetic waves and background noise.
Overall the development would fail to comply with Policy D6 and D14 of the London Plan, Policy DMP1 of the Development Management Policies, Policies DMP1 and BD1 of the Draft Local Plan and Brent’s Design Guide –Supplementary Planning Document 1.
4 The Sunlight and Daylight report has failed to provide an assessment in relation to an overshadowing to the adjacent residential garden areas on Amery Road. As such, the proposal has failed to demonstrate that the rear gardens of these properties would not adversely affected through undue levels of overshadowing. This would be contrary to policy DMP1 of Brent's Development Management Policies 2016, policy DMP1 of Brent's Draft Local Plan 2020 and the guidance set out in SPD1 "Brent's Design Guide" 2018.
5 The proposal by virtue of the proximity of habitable room windows and balconies/terraces to the upper floor flats at third floor level within the front section of the proposed building in relation to the boundary with No. 135 Sudbury Court Drive would result in outlook over the neighbouring site and unacceptable levels of overlooking and loss of privacy to the detriment of the amenities of the occupiers of No. 135 Sudbury Court Drive. In addition, by reason of the size and siting of the proposed development, the proposal would result in an over-bearing relationship with the garden and rear facing windows of No. 135 Sudbury Court Drive to the detriment of the amenities of the occupiers of that property. Overall, this would result in an adverse impact on the amenities of No. 135 Sudbury Court Driver through overlooking, loss of privacy and undue sense of enclosure. This would be contrary to policy DMP1 of Brent's Development Management Policies 2016, emerging policy DMP1 in Brent's Draft Local Plan 2020, and the guidance set out in SPD1 "Brent's Design Guide" 2018.
6 The proposal, by reason of the proximity of habitable room windows of the proposed development to the boundary with the adjoining site to the north, and lack of evidence on the access rights to the substation to demonstrate that this would need to be retained in the long term, would fail to have an appropriate regard to the nature of the adjoining site as a development site for mix-use purposes. As such, the submission fails to appropriately demonstrate that the proposal is will result an acceptable relationship with adjoining development site thus resulting in an impact on the capacity of the adjoining site for industrial and residential purposes. This is contrary to policy DMP1 and DMP14 of Brent's Development Management Policies and emerging policies E4 and E7 of the London Plan and policy DMP1 BE3 of Brent's emerging draft Local Plan.
7 The proposal has failed to demonstrate that adequate cycle parking provision in a secure and weather tight area can be provided. As such, it fails to comply with policy T5 of London Plan 2021 and draft policy BT1 of Brent's emerging Local Plan 2020.
8 The proposed development is not subject to a legal agreement under Section 106 of the Planning Act which would ensure that the delivery of the maximum reasonable amount of Affordable housing together with an appropriate Affordable Housing review mechanism, and an appropriate level of carbon reduction across the scheme. As such, the impacts of the development would not be mitigated and the proposal would be contrary to London Plan Policies H4, H5, H6, SI2, Core Strategy Policies CP1, CP2 and CP19 and Development Management Policy DMP15. The proposal would also fail to comply with the emerging policies BH5 and BSU1 of the emerging Local Plan, and Brent's S106 Planning Obligations SPD.
I'm pleased to see that Brent's Planning Officers have refused this application, on very good grounds, especially those set out in points 1 and 2 of their reasons.
But it's strange how they have overlooked, or deliberately ignored, those very same grounds when recommending other applications for approval in the past!
1 Morland Gardens is one such application which comes to mind - but that was different, of course. Brent Council was the applicant!
Very good point Philip
It was also obvious that certain officers were believed over and above valid residents comments. Is it yet another influence by Ego, Dr and Towerblock?
Leading Members (I inderstand) joined planning officers at pre apllication meetings with the developers. I had long asked for copies of notes of those meetings to be published or released to me to no avail so far. Cllr Shama Tatler was engaged in this dialogue with me, with Ward Councillors copied in . It would be helpful to have sight of those , to enable us to understand the position arrived at pre-application. Is there a strategy in which waters were tested and developers will come back with guidance from "the Council"? We need transparent governance.
See this from May 2018 statement by Debra Norman, then Brent Council's Director of Legal and HR Services. It may help you in your endeavours.
The Planning Code of Practice has for a long time contained provisions which cover approaches from developers and others to planning committee members. In January of this year a section was added to the Code (at the request of the Leader) to cover meetings with developers. It was not in place at the time of the meeting to which you refer. The new section states as follows:
Discussions between members and meetings with developers or their representatives
28 Provided Members comply with the practical requirements of this code and the requirements of the Members’ Code of Conduct, there is no legal rule against Members, whether of the same group or not, discussing strategic planning issues, general policy issues or even future decisions.
29 Similarly, joint working, both formal and informal, and dialogue between Members of the Planning Committee and Members of the Cabinet is recognised as a legitimate reality of local government life. Members of the Planning Committee need to ensure that when making planning decisions, they make up their own mind and on the planning merits.
30 Relevant Members of the Cabinet are entitled to meet with developers or their representatives and other relevant stakeholders as part of their role to promote Brent and the regeneration, development and other commercial opportunities available in the borough. In doing so, Members of the Cabinet must always act in the best interests of the council and ultimately in the public interest, and in accordance with the high standards of conduct expected of Members, to ensure that the integrity of the planning process is not undermined and the council is not brought into disrepute.
31 Reasonable care and judgement should be exercised in relation to such meetings, taking into account the purpose of the meeting, the nature of the issues to be discussed and the timing. In appropriate circumstances, exercising proper judgement may include ensuring a record is kept of the meeting. Cabinet Members should make sure it is understood that their participation in marketing events or commercial discussions is separate from the administrative and regulatory roles of Members of the Planning Committee.
32 Although Members of the Cabinet are entitled to express support or opposition to development proposed in the borough, they cannot use their position as a Member improperly to confer on or secure for any person, an advantage or disadvantage.
33 As pre-application discussions or discussions about undecided applications require particular care, the following additional rules apply. An officer must make the arrangements for such meetings, attend and write notes. The meeting arrangements must include agreeing an agenda in advance
If you haven't made the request as an FoI request I sugegst you do, using the What do they know? website as this makes the request public.
There is nothing wrong with "pre-application" meetings between an applicant's planning team and Brent planning officers, as long as those officers give clear advice based on Brent's adopted planning policies and keep a detailed record of the points raised and the advice they have given. That is good planning practice.
The Planning Statement submitted as part of Fruition's application 21/3679 for 231 Watford Road (you can download a copy from the documents section for this application on Brent's planning website, if you wish to read it) gives details of their "Pre-application engagement with LBB".
Section 3 of this Statement begins: 'The proposals follow extensive pre-application engagement with the LBB planning officers throughout 2020 and 2021; presentation of the proposals at a LBB Design Review workshop in June 2021; and public consultation in June-July 2021.'
It then lists the following meetings (which Unknown - 31 December at 10:26 - may wish to note for possible use in an FoI request):
'Initial pre-application advice was sought in July 2020 (ref: 20/0185/PRE)'
'The written pre-app response was received on 10th September 2020 and the pre-app meeting took place on 5th October 2020.'
'Following pre-app 1, the proposals were revised. Revised design drawings were submitted to LBB on 18th November 2020 and a further meeting took place with LBB’s Design Officer on 25th November 2020.'
'Further pre-application advice was sought from LBB in December 2020 in order to discuss the revised proposals (ref: 20/0345/PRE).'
'The written pre-app response was received on 4th March 2021 and the second pre-app meeting took place on 9th March 2021.'
'Following feedback from the two pre-application meetings and the previous design meeting, a second design meeting took place on 25th May 2021.'
'A third design meeting took place on 19th August 2021.'
'In addition to the pre-application meetings and design meetings with LBB, the Applicant also presented the draft proposals at a Brent Design Review workshop on the 28th June 2021.'
'The Applicant has also carried out engagement with the public and elected
stakeholders, as detailed below.
Consultation with Elected Representatives
Elected representatives were contacted to brief them on the proposals, to alert them to the forthcoming consultation and to offer a meeting to discuss the plans in more detail.
A meeting with Cllr McLennan and Cllr Robert took place on 10th August 2021.'
Both Cllrs McLennan and Robert (Johnson) are local ward councillors for the area including the application site, but the former is also Deputy Leader of the Council and the latter is Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee.
The Planning Statement does not disclose any other meetings with Cabinet members, but it would still be worth including a request for the date(s) and notes of any meetings between any Brent Cabinet members and representatives of Fruition Ltd and its planning agents in the period from 1 July 2020 and 29 December 2021 in any FoI request.
Very useful Philip Grant. The "meetings" trail is less important than the contents within those meetings. It is the publication of those notes that needs to be achieved. No developer would pursue speculative development steps as intensive as these without being given a glimpse of hope, so they turn hope value into development value.
Dear Unknown (31 December at 15:25),
I agree. Good luck with getting Brent's notes of all the meetings via FoI.
And if those notes show anything that doesn't seem right, please make them public, so that any Council member or officer who has acted improperly can be held to account.
Philip Grant is right that this application would have been approved if it been made by Brent Council and not by a private developer.
The Planning Code of Practice is a cover under which the Council can make political decisions and call them planning matters. There is no problem with meeting developers and assisting them to get around objections when the developer is the Council themselves - the Officers then just mark their own homework!
At Preston Library all the reasons for refusal at Mumbai Junction applied - a block three times the height of the adjacent houses is proposed by the Council and approved. Overlooking neighbours gardens - no problem - its a Council application!
Officers and Committee members approved it twice! When residents showed this was unlawful at Judicial Review the Council used a Thatcher Government law to gain consent for the development. The Thatcher law limits community participation in planning decisions thus no problem using politics to get around the planning code.
Sudbury residents would not be thanking (or even speaking to) their Councillors or the MP if Brent had made the Mumbai Junction application.
Dear Grasmere Avenue Resident
Frightening perspective of what seems like legalised ruke-bending which elsewhere may have been termed corruption. See what happened on the green opposite Stonebrudge and Our Lady of Lourdes...more amenity taken away from the community. Is my Labour Party in Brent now (or still community-led? Complacency bubbles then to burst
Dear Unknown 1 January 2022 at 10:37
Really does sound like attempt at bending of some sort don't it? As for Stonebridge developments, must have very controlled councillors.
We assume from what has been previously written here and the reasons for refusal, this application was being forced through by those in control, yes Labour. It really does beg the question: who told the applicant it would be OK? obviously not the officers!
You know it is time for a change who is in control, but who to choose?
Come May 2022 Mo Butt will have been Leader of the Labour Group and Brent Council for ten years. I think that is long enough, don't you???
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