Friday 12 August 2022

Loss of green space and tenure change are issues in Rokesby Place application that Planning Committee must discuss


Two 4-bedroom houses are planned for this site (Site A)

Many issues have arisen over Brent Council's plans for infill housing in its council estates but the two main ones have been loss of green space and trees to the detriment of existing residents and the proposed tenure of the new developments.  

The Brent Planning Committee will consider the Brent Council planning application on Wednesday August 17th at 6pm. I understand that are likely to be representations from residents and a local councillor. The webcast can be viewed live HERE.

Both issues are involved in the proposal for infill  at Rokesbury Place in Harrow where two four-bedroom houses are proposed on the site above at the end of a dead-end street. The tenure of the houses has been changed from the Social Rent originally proposed to London Affordable Rent.

The proposal would remove three mature trees and reduce the green space, used for leisure, and parking.

These trees are to be removed:


Planning Officers have recommended approval of the proposal and say: 

Whilst it is noted that there is a part loss of the existing grassed space, (next to 34 Rokesby Place) the scheme would provide a new communal amenity space next to the new homes and enhancement to the remaining space within site B (next to 31 Rokesby Place) including new drying facilities. The benefits of the scheme to provide two new affordable family sized homes would be considered to outweigh the harm of any loss of existing green space as discussed within para 67-69 below (see report)


An area of approximately 160 sqm of green space is proposed to be changed to hard surfacing to accommodate the enhanced turning head and the parking spaces within site B. Site A has landscaped areas at either end of the car park, with a total area of approximately 145 sqm. These will be removed, but a new communal landscaped area of approximately 80 sqm will be re-provided. It is acknowledged that it is possible that some residents may be currently using some of the grassed area for recreational functions, and that this may have some local value despite not falling within the boundaries of a designated public open space. (My emphasis)


Policy DMP1 seeks to retain existing green infrastructure including open space, high amenity trees and landscape features, and providing appropriate additional or enhancements where possible. Where the loss of open space is proposed, this would be required to be balanced against the benefits of the proposal. While the loss of the green space is acknowledged, the scheme would deliver the provision of two affordable family sized homes within the Borough for which there is an identified need. This is considered to outweigh the harm, particularly given the proximity to Barham Park which provides a large area of open space in very close proximity and access to this park would remain unrestricted for nearby residents. On balance, the loss of this green space is outweighed by the benefits of the scheme as a whole, including the delivery of two affordable family sized homes.

  A objector from Copland Avenue points out:

On the previous application in 2015, the Tree Officer appraised the two trees to the rear of the site (Bird Cherry T2 and Lime T3) and provided root protection recommendations (in fact the cherry is a prunus lusitanica, a tree with an Award of Garden Merit which produces food for pollinators and berries for birds). That report stated ..." the retention of trees identified as T2 and T3 is recommended as this will enhance the screening between the new houses and the adjacent gardens. The retention of existing groups of trees will be beneficial in maintaining the character and appearance of the site and locality as well". Additionally, in the final report of the 2015 application it stated, "One tree would be lost as a result of the proposal, however, a Bird Cherry and Lime which provide a valuable food source and attract various wildlife would remain on site". There doesn't appear to be a tree officer's report for this application, just a report by the developer which is not going to be impartial. These two valuable trees, plus a nice silver birch, are all to be sacrificed, it seems - heartbreaking! We strongly object to this. Surely Brent should adhere to its previous recommendation to retain these trees. We would also request a BAT survey has they are in our garden every summer.

 This is the overall plan for the Rokesby Place:


The applicant claims that when surveyed only one car was using the car park which appears to be disproved by this photograph from a resident:

Incidentally the building behind the car park, an extension to a Crawford Avenue house, is not shown in the application plans.


Work will also go on at the green space adjacent to 31 Rokesby Place. This is currently a green space with a washing drying area where residents have carried out planting. Cars are morked next to it but the council say this is a turning area. They claim 5 'new' car parking spaces are provided in the new design but this does not take account of the loss of spaces on the northern site or the spaces needed by the new houses. Objectors dismiss claims that residents could park on nearby streets.



Visiting this morning it was clear that this small, peaceful community really care for their estate as can be seen from the planting that has taken place outside the terrace of houses:

The second issue, previously high-lighted on Wembley Matters, and of particular significance to Watling Gardens, is the never-ending ambiguity around Brent Council's definition (or lack of it) of 'affordable housing.

The Brent Poverty Commission in the report adopted by Brent Council was clear:

The application form clearly stated that the tenure for these 4 bedroom  houses would be for Social Rent. LINK.

But Scedule B of the Officers' Report going to Planning Committee as the Letter of Approval states that tenure is London Affordable Rent  LINK :

However, the Planning Statement, prepared by Maddox Planning for Brent Council as the applicant, clearly states a proposed Social Rent LINK:


The justification for the harm this application will do to the existing residents of Rokesby Place is the benefit that two new four-bedroom Council homes will provide.

On the application form it was said that these new large family homes would be for Social Rent.

Social Rent was identified by the 2020 Brent Poverty Commission Report as the only genuinely affordable housing which the majority of families in housing need could afford, and the rent level which Brent Council should be aiming to provide its Council housing programme at.

But the proposed Condition 3, which the Officer Report recommends the Planning Committee should approve, has changed the tenure of these two homes to London Affordable Rent, which  is not what the application offered, and would not be affordable to most families on the Council's waiting list.

By making these two homes for London Affordable Rent, rather than Social Rent, it undermines the benefit which is supposed to justify this application. If Planning Committee is minded to accept the application, it should insist that Condition 3 be changed, so that the affordable housing is delivered as two Social Rent units, as originally set out in application 22/1400.

This is particularly important as these 4-bedroom houses are clearl meant for large families so rent level wil be particularly important for them - as the Poverty Commission recognised. 

Back in 2018 the Scrutiny New Developments Task Group on Affordable Housing LINK said:

Brent’s future housing strategy should be explicit about the need for social rent. It is not acceptable for the viability process to lead to a lack of social rented accommodation, but significant proportions of “affordable rent” and intermediate products such as shared ownership, when we know these simply are not genuinely affordable options for residents of the borough in housing need.

That is even truer today.


Philip Grant said...

Planning Officers knew that what was promised in the application form, submitted on behalf of Brent Council, was two homes for Social Rent.

In their report to Planning Committee they simply refer to the two new homes as "affordable".

Then, in the proposed conditions, in the draft consent letter they are recommending for approval, they specify that the tenancies will be for London Affordable Rent.

Why did Planning Officers make that change, at whose request, and on what authority?

Would they change the affordable housing type for a private developer? I hope not! So why do it for Brent Council, who should be treated no differently by the Local Planning Authority?

Anonymous said...

As has been said by others on this blog, and how true, Brent Council are like the Wealdstone Brook.

Anonymous said...

This all seems very strange. Decisions seem to be made on a whim without any thought for the people who will be impacted the most. Double standards being applied. Brent publish their guidance to show on paper that they are aiming to be a green borough but then doing the complete opposite. Are the leadership that power hungry? Totally indefensible what they are doing and playing with peoples lives. Planners are not seen to be independent and are clearly being leaned in as are the councillors.

Anonymous said...

The impact on existing residents is not acceptable. The removal of well used, and resident maintained amenity space to make way for a car park is indefensible. There’s also sightings of endangered
mammals highlighting this important and increasing rare in residential settings in our borough of natural habitat. By all means utilise underused brownfield sites but don’t overdevelop them resulting in overspill into increasingly rare pockets natural habitat as well as robbing existing residents living in family homes of their one well used pocket amenity space.

Anonymous said...

The application states two villas (not just houses) will be erected. Each to home 7 persons. One can only image how much rent will be charged for each luxurious dwelling. Hardly social housing.

Further these villas will be put at significant risk as the planners have not considered fire vehicle access according to government legislation. A failure to visit the property and assess access has resulted in a plan that disallows fire vehicles to be close enough to fight the fire. Legislation states a vehicle must be able to reach within 45m of each point of the dwelling and to also not be required to reverse more than 20m. The plans have failed to account for this and in doing so put the potential 14 residents in their villas at enormous risk and danger of fire. This plan has so multiple problems with it and it is a disgrace that it has been allowed to progress so far.

Anonymous said...

The NEGATIVE impact to the existing residents, many who have lived at Rokesby Place for decades, is significant. Residents have reported that they have not been consulted in the slightest for a planning proposal which will completely affect the environment in which they live, a planning proposal which will take away their limited green space which supports their well being as well as being a community area, a planning proposal which will have a damaging effect on the local wildlife and long standing trees. Additionally the planning proposal is badly thought out and is extremely misleading indicating that the space that is taken away will be replaced elsewhere but that is far from the truth.

The planners have also severely underestimated the level of parking stress that will be caused should the proposal proceed. The parking spaces in the surrounding streets are highly utilised by workers at the local police station and Royal Mail sorting office. Reducing the already limited spaces at Rokesby Place just is not tenable.

All of this has been highlighted in the objections from the Rokesby Place residents but once again Brent Council are completing disregarding their valuable feedback.

Anonymous said...

Just heard the committee approved the planning application and that the whole process was very clearly a charade. The chair Cllr Kelcher started of with there is a housing shortage and new homes are needed and then said they are independent decision makers. From what we heard there didn’t seem to be any objectivity or independence in how the chair and other Labour Cllrs ignored the relevant evidence, only Cllr Maurice snd Cllr Seethan asked relevant questions.

Anonymous said...

Planners and developers said parking for Disabled residents is not their concern as highways issue. man from highways might aswell not been there as seemed a yes man

Keith Anderson said...

In microcosm, this story is depressingly similar to our still-contested 139-unit Kilburn Square Infill scheme - which is now about a month away from a Planning Application.
• Building on green space with mature trees, displacing a playground to a less than ideal spot, a tick-box engagement effort where Brent controls the narrative throughout
• See and for some history.
• And here’s the current status of the scheme:
• The expected rent levels are so far described simply as “Affordable”…
• Brent has little genuine support from either residents or the wider community; it would add 65% to the 2019 population of the estate, and aggravate an existing deficit of Amenity Space
• It makes a mockery of Cllr Southwood’s wish for “a scheme that can work for everyone” and of the Housing Director’s claim that “We will not force homes on anyone, we develop only with the support and encouragement of the local community”
• Anyone wanting to support our cause can email

Meg Howarth said...

Why isn't this a car-free development - as is the case in other London boroughs?

Meg Howarth said...

Why isn't this a car-free development - as is the case in other boroughs?