Tuesday 13 September 2022

Bridgewater Road, Alperton scheme back at Planning Committee tonight with amendments - are the homes 'truly affordable'?

The already consented scheme at the Westend Saab and Boyriven Textiles site in Bridgewater Road, Alperton will come back to Planning Committee tonight with changes.

The Committee is at 6pm and can be viewed HERE.

Officers' summarise the changes as:

The number of residential homes proposed is 173, compared to 124 in the consented scheme (an uplift of 49 homes). As with the consented scheme, all units would be provided as affordable housing in a policy-compliant mix of tenures. The scheme would secure 54 London Affordable Rented homes (the consented scheme secured 47 London Affordable Rented homes) and 119 intermediate homes (the consented scheme secured 77 intermediate homes).

The amount of industrial floorspace proposed is 2,228sqm (GIA) compared to 1,878sqm in the consented scheme. It would continue to fall within use classes E(g)(ii) and E(g)(iii) as per the consented scheme.

The bulk, scale and massing of the proposal would be altered, with the base element of the building increasing from one to two storeys and the lower point block (Block A) increasing in height from eleven to 13 storeys. Both the three-storey frontage building and the seven-storey central linking element at the rear would be removed, and the width and depth of both point blocks would be increased. The height of the taller Block B would remain at 19 storeys


 Given the recent discussion on Wembley Matters about the Brent Poverty Commission's view that the only rent truly afforable for Brent residents is council or social rent it is worth noting that 'affordable' home in this case  (54) actually refers to London Affordable Rent (higher than social rent) and the intermediate homes (1190 are actually shared ownership not considered affordable and with many drawbacks.


Remember Cllr Rita Conneely  recently told Scrutiny Committee to be very careful about terminology, especially as regards 'affordable' housing - transparency and ready understandability by the public is essential!

In addition to the main report there is a Supplementary of interest to Clear Air Advocates. I have especially highlighed on questionable paragraph.


A further review of baseline conditions and residual effects was conducted and is summarised below. In terms of baseline conditions, an additional 12 months of published air quality data has become available since the preparation of the Air Quality Assessment, across the full 2021 calendar year. However, the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak upon air quality, due to nationwide changes in transport patterns and pollutant concentrations, mean that data from 2021 would not be representative of baseline conditions and so should not be used for assessment purposes. Therefore the approach taken in the Air Quality Assessment, to use 2019 as a baseline year, is considered to remain the most robust means of assessment. The newly available data would not impact the results, conclusion or proposed mitigation.

In terms of residual impacts on air quality, the predicted demolition and construction effects would not be affected by the amendments to the plans and would remain insignificant. In terms of operational effects, relocating two residential units from the first floor to the second floor would reduce the exposure of future residents to poor air quality, in line with the expectations of the Air Quality Positive approach.


Conversely, relocating the residents lounge to the ground floor could result in future residents being exposed to poor air quality. Mitigation measures such as nitrogen oxide filtration would be required to prevent significant health
impacts on residents using the lounge

It is likely that these mitigation measures would not support windows in the lounge being openable. However, it should be noted that the residents lounge is not required by policy but is proposed as additional to the private internal space of residents’ homes and the private and communal external amenity space provided.

Residents could choose whether to make use of it, and would be less likely to use it for prolonged periods of time compared to their own homes and the external spaces. In these circumstances, it is considered that non-openable windows would be acceptable.

The necessary mitigation measures could be secured by the following proposed additional condition:

“Condition 29: Prior to first occupation or use of the development, further details of air quality mitigation measures required to ensure acceptable air quality levels in the residents’ lounge, shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.

The development shall thereafter be carried out in accordance with the approved details.

Reason: To ensure an acceptable standard of air quality for residents is achieved within the development.”

The proposed scheme also delivers significant planning benefits over and above those secured in the consented scheme, principally the increased number of affordable homes and increased amount of industrial floorspace. Although the development has not been demonstrated to be Air Quality Positive, these factors,taken together with the fallback position and proposed mitigation measures outlined above, are considered to outweigh the harm caused by this limited conflict with policy in this case.

Amendments to plan numbers (Condition 2):
Minor amendments to the list of approved plans are proposed.

These reflect the submission of an existing site plan to aid CIL calculations, and minor alterations to the elevational drawings including amendments to fenestration detailing. These alterations would have a negligible impact on the overall design quality and appearance of the proposal and are not considered to
require reconsultation


Recommendation: Remains to GRANT PERMISSION subject to conditions and s106 obligations as set out in the Committee Report and the additional Condition 29 proposed above

1 comment:

Philip Grant said...

The proposal for affordable housing is NOT 'a policy-compliant mix of tenures', as claimed in the Report to the Committee!

"Intermediate" homes, such as shared ownership should not be more than 30% of the "so called" affordable housing in a proposed development, but 119 out of 173 is nearly 69%.

Even 30% is too high a policy figure, as the "evidence base" behind the Local Plan policies showed that the projected "housing need" in Brent for shared ownership "affordable homes" was just under 15%.

What with this, and the questionable arguments for what is "acceptable" over air quality for future residents, how can Planning Officers honestly recommend this application for acceptance?

It is yet another example of Brent agreeing an application for "x" number of homes, then the developer (having got its foot in the door) coming back with another application for "x + y" homes on the same site. Overdevelopment at its worst, and yet Brent approves it time and again.