Brent Planning Committee approved the revised schemes despite several areas of non-compliance with Brent Council's own guidance - the usual reasoning being the balance of benefits over disbenefits.
Only Cllr Michael Maurice voted against the application based on the shortfall of affordable housing and 3 bedroomed flats and the general design.
The issue of air quality on this busy road was not addressed by the Committee or developer.
As Alperton ward councillor, Anton Georgiou, made a 5 minute contribution:
I always get a sense of déjà vu when addressing the Planning Committee. Every time I come here to oppose yet more dense development in my ward of Alperton, I do so on behalf of residents who are hugely frustrated and have simply had enough.
I am not here to deny that young people like me, who were born in our borough, and have lived here our whole lives need places to live.
I am also not here to deny the fact that we continue to have a vast housing waiting list in Brent, which includes on it some of our most vulnerable residents.
That being said, I once again want to highlight that of the 173 units proposed in this development, only a fraction can be deemed realistically affordable, despite what the report states, with the vast majority being totally out of reach in terms of affordability for local people, let alone our most in need residents over the long term.
54 units are proposed at a London Affordable Rent level and the other 119 are shared ownership.
Shared ownership, as I am sure the Committee will agree, has huge pitfalls. Before approving more shared ownership schemes in Brent, we need further evidence that shared ownership is a genuinely affordable housing model. There are indicators that the most economically vulnerable are at most risk with shared ownership. It is one thing to deem units affordable at this stage, but as many already have unfortunately found out, there is no long-term guarantee of affordability. Particularly with no defined cap on rising rents on the percentage the shared-owner doesn’t ‘own’, coupled with the misery of ever increasing service charges and extra hidden costs like building repairs, the cost of lease extension, fees attached to stair-casing.
Don’t take my word for it, I highly recommend Committee members take a look at reports from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which go into detail about why Councils should be highly sceptical of shared ownership. In my opinion, we should be arguing against this broken housing model altogether.
This development also does not meet Brent’s 25% target for family sized units, as stated in the report – something that we really, really need in our borough. We do not need even more 1 to 2--bedroom boxes in the sky. Why do we have targets if we allow developers the room to always miss them?
The proposed development is in an area that is experiencing intense development. The impact that this is already having on existing residents cannot be overstated. I have spoken to many families who have or are thinking about leaving Alperton because of nonstop development.
Planning decisions being by this Council are literally driving people out of our borough.
Despite the excessive amount of CIL, of which this development would contribute more to the pot, existing residents see very little done in terms of improvements to infrastructure in Alperton. In fact, we are seeing worsening standards in the area.
The meagre £50,000 ring fenced through section 106 contributions for One Tree Hill, will not touch the surface of ASB and other issues there. I speak from experience having seen how an NCIL bid worth over £100,000 to transform Alperton Sports Ground down the road, which had to be approved by Cabinet, did not even come close to addressing the concerns or desires of residents.
The recent loss of Alperton Bus Garage, a major, historic transport infrastructure site, just metres from the proposed development, has had a knock-on effect on local bus services. The concern that this would happen was brushed aside when the decision on that development was made.
I also note references to proximity to Alperton station and the Piccadilly Line in this report. In theory yes, it is a great asset that should be adequately serving local need. It does not. The infrequency of Piccadilly Line trains on the Alperton branch, when compared to the Heathrow one continues to be a major problem that results in huge backlogs at rush hour times. Despite recognition by all developers in the area that Alperton station is becoming a major travel hub that will be used by more local people the contribution towards step-free access by the developer is nowhere near enough to realise this aspiration.
Many of us have long highlighted the dire and dangerous state of local pavements. Metres from the proposed site on Bridgewater Road over 30% of paving slabs are regarded by Council Officers to be in need of repair and yet there is never enough resource to do essential remedial works. I find the response to a resident comment on this matter in the report particularly interesting, as it states “Community Infrastructure Levy funding could contribute towards works of this type”, which in my view and from my understanding of CIL would set a precedent.
Fundamentally, Alperton residents do not understand why more and more developments are being granted approval by this Committee whilst the state of local infrastructure is so bad.
A major issue we as Councillors have to contend with is the demand for parking provision in our wards. I can only reiterate how bad the situation is in Alperton, even more so in immediate areas surrounding new development.
There does not seem to be an overarching plan by the local authority to deal with inevitable increases in the number of vehicles on our roads. Existing residents are already contending with pressures on local parking provision as it stands – this development will make it worse. I do not believe the £80,000 contribution by the developer towards the implementation of a Controlled Parking Zone is a fix. The imposition of a CPZ without resident consent is wrong.
If we want to move away from reliance on car use, which I agree with, why is the Council not investing heavily in active travel infrastructure measures, like cycle lanes, alongside the approval of even more development in Alperton. It is short-sighted not to.
I appeal to every member of the Committee to really consider what this authority achieves by imposing yet more tower blocks in Alperton.
The focus of this Council should at this stage be to take stock, establish whether existing development has contributed to making our area better and gain a better awareness of the dangers of promoting shared ownership.
I strongly urge you to reject this application.