Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity
Policy DMP1, from Brent’s Local Plan.
“Wembley Matters” has been following the progress of Brent’s New Council Homes “infill” planning application, 22/3124. Most recently, Martin shared an email sent by Newland Court resident, Marc Etukudo, to the Council’s Head of Planning.Marc’s uncovering of the Barn Hill Conservation Area boundary change (adopted by Brent’s Executive – now Cabinet – in June 2013), which puts the site of the proposed new houses within the Conservation Area, made me review my own earlier objection comments. Last Friday I submitted my updated objections.
I will ask Martin to include the illustrated pdf version of these at the end of this post – which includes screenshots from Brent’s massive Local Plan document of the policies which the Newland Court garages scheme would breach. Please have a look at these, if you think they could be useful for future objections you may wish to make on applications affecting you!
It was now clear to me that the Newland Court planning application should be refused, so I have sent the following open email to the Cabinet Member and Council Officer(s) behind it, calling on them to withdraw the application. I have asked Martin to share it’s text with you, so that it is available for anyone to read (and to write in support of, or comment on).
Dear Councillor Knight, Ms. Baines and Ms Sweeney,
This is an open email
As you are, respectively, Brent's Lead Member for Housing, Head of Affordable Housing and Head of Estates Regeneration, I think you should see my latest (and illustrated) comments document, which sets out further objections to Brent's Newland Court garages planning application, 22/3124.
It explains, in section 1, why the site on which you propose to build seven new Council homes is actually inside the Barn Hill Conservation Area. This was the result of a minor change in the boundary, adopted by Brent's Executive (now Cabinet) in June 2013.
It lists the reasons why your application fails to comply with a number of Brent's Local Plan policies, including those on Heritage, Trees, Ecological Impact and Parking.
In case you don't feel that you have time to read the whole of the attached document, here are some highlights from its conclusion:
'There is already a long list of Brent Local Plan policies which application 22/3124 fails to comply with: BP1 Central, BGI1, BGI2, BHC1 and BT2. To that list can also be added the main development management policy in the Local Plan, DMP1. This policy states that ‘development will be accepted provided it is ….’ It then sets out nine tests, and this application fails at least five of them: a), b), d), e) and h). It cannot be claimed that there is ‘a minor conflict with policy’. The application is so far in conflict with Brent’s adopted Local Plan policies that it must be refused.'
'Although this “infill” scheme may have looked possible “on paper”, it is not practical or sustainable when the reality of its proposed site is taken into account. That, on top of its many failures to comply with Brent’s adopted planning policies, must mean that the application should be refused.'
It is not just me, or residents of Newland Court and neighbours in Grendon Gardens, who believe that your application should be refused - several Brent Council experts have also said so in their consultee comments on it.
I am bringing this to your attention because I think it is time you accepted that the Newland Court garages scheme was a mistake. Your planning application should be withdrawn, and no further money, or Planning / Housing Officer time, should be wasted on it.
I hope to hear that you have taken, or will now take, that sensible decision. Best wishes,
(a Brent resident with an interest in housing matters)
FOR INFORMATION 1:
I received an email this morning from Councillor Promise Knight, in response to that in my article above. This is what it said:
'Your concerns have been noted, Philip.
Cllr Promise Knight
Lead Member for Housing, Homelessness, and Renters’ Security'
FOR INFORMATION 2:
Just over 24 hours ago, I forwarded a copy of my main email (to the Lead Member for Housing and Head of Affordable Housing) to Cllrs Kathleen Fraser and Robert Johnson. This is what it said (I have yet to receive any response):
'Dear Barnhill Ward councillors,
I am forwarding this email to you, for your information, so that you are aware of the latest developments over this important planning application in your Ward.
I'm sure that Councillor Johnson, with your experience on Brent's Planning Committee, will realise that, with so many breaches of Brent's adopted planning policies, there is no way in which the Newland Court garages planning application (22/3124) should be approved.
I hope that you will both support the residents in Barnhill Ward, particularly those at Newland Court and Grendon Gardens, who are opposing this ill-considered Brent "New Council Homes" infill scheme, and will pass on that view to your colleague, Councillor Promise Knight, and the Officers concerned. Best wishes,
I have already thanked Philip Grant personally for all his help, time and effort that he has put into helping us fight this proposal but I would also like to thank him publicly along with Martin Francis. With all the mitigating factors that Philip Grant has highlighted and some of Brent Councils own officers against this proposal there is also the fact Brent Council’s application that they submitted for this proposal is full of misleading and inaccurate information. So with all this information that the planning department now have, if this proposal is not REFUSED then there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
Thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly to highlight the flaws in this application. Aside from the impact to residents (which I am one of) building and housing people in these properties would be horrible for them too. They will be tiny, covered by trees, no parking, limited refuse space and there is no increase in other local provision such as GPs. Everyone in this situation deserves better and for this application to be cancelled.
I really hope the Council listen to all this, do the right thing and refuse the application. If in the light of so much evidence they still go ahead one would have to seriously question the point of any consultation, and the sincerity and integrity of the council members..
A very big thank you to Martin , Philip and Marc ; who have all put so much work into this infill development application and dissected it to ensure that all factual and accurate information is bought to the surface You have all ensured inconsistencies as well as misleading and inaccurate information is questioned.
I feel without Martin we would not be able to make this information accessible to all those who live at Newland Court and Grendon Gardens .
Philip, I applaud you for putting so much work into supporting us at Newland Court . Your immense support is very much appreciated by us all and we hope that Brent Council realise that this application is flawed and refuse it, based on facts and supporting evidence as well as objections they have received from a lot of Residents affected in the area .
Marc thank you so much for your hard work in the community and residents at Newland Court and liaising with Grendon Garden residents to ensure collectively our voices are heard by Brent Council Thank you also for representing our views and concerns throughout this process.
I do feel Brent Council must refuse this application and must stop any further applications being considered at Newland Court. ALL objections must be taken into consideration and I think your hard work collectively has been amazingly insightful and helpful.
Thank you for all the positive comments above.
I tend to include illustrations as part of my comments on planning applications (as you will see if you've looked through the pdf document attached to this post), and always send copies of the images to Brent's Regeneration Admin. Service, as requested on the planning website.
As a result, I have a good (email) relationship with the Brent staff there, and hope that this paragraph in the message with the latest nine images gave them cause to smile (even if secretly):
'You may wonder why most of the images are of Brent Local Plan policies, but sometimes I think it is worth reminding Planning Officers what the policies, which they are meant to uphold, actually say!'
As the old saying goes: Many a true word is spoken in jest.
Are the two Barn Hill Labour councillors supporting local residents against these in-fill plans?
Butt and his bought Cabinet cronies do what he wants and the other councillors are totally inefectual as well
FOR INFORMATION - UPDATE 1:
As my objection comments in the article above included illustrations, I sent the pdf document copy of them to the planning Case Officer dealing with the Newland Court garages application, and copied the email to several senior Planning Officers as well.
I received a reply, which rejected the claim that the Newland Court garages are inside the Barn Hill Conservation Area, saying it was a 'drafting error'.
This is the text of the reply I received, from Brent's Development Management Manager, and I will post a separate comment below with my response to it:-
I write in response to your letter within which you have said that the boundary of the conservation area that is shown in the Barn Hill Conservation Area Design Guide indicates that the Newland Court garages are within the conservation area rather than outside but adjoining the conservation area.
The conservation area map within the Design Guide does show the boundary to run along the southern side of the garages. However, this is a drafting error in the design guide, and the Newland Court garages are not designated within the Barn Hill Conservation Area. The original boundary map is held by Land Charges (attached for reference) and this clearly shows the boundary and that the garage site is outside said boundary. The map is taken from the original designation.
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Part II, Section 69, deals with the designation of conservation areas including boundary changes. Section 71 of the same Act requires the Council to publish proposals for conservation areas at a public meeting and to have regard to any views from residents affected by the conservation area designation.
As prescribed in the Act, there was consultation on the draft Barn Hill Conservation Area Design Guide, but this was purely on planning and design guidance relating to alterations to properties within the conservation area. There was no such consultation on a boundary change nor was there mention of a boundary change within the Executive Committee Report recommending adoption. Thus, the Council could not just move the boundary without full consultation on this particular element. Furthermore, it could not be accepted as a ‘fait accompli’ simply because the wrong boundary was included in a consultation document.
Nevertheless, while the site is outside of the conservation area, the Council must consider whether the proposal affects the setting of the conservation area, and whether it will result in harm to the conservation area. This will be duly considered when evaluating this planning application.
FOR INFORMATION - UPDATE 2:
This was my response to the email I received (see Update 1 above), about whether the Newland Court garages are inside or outside of the Barn Hill Conservation Area:-
'Dear Mr Glover,
Thank you for your email of 12 January. I apologise for the delay in replying.
You have said that the amended section of the Barn Hill Conservation Area boundary, showing that it runs along the Newland Court roadway, rather than along the boundary with the back gardens in Grendon Gardens, was 'a drafting error in the design guide.' Do you have any evidence to support that statement, please?
I do not dispute that the original boundary was as shown on the Land Charges map which you provided a copy of.
I agree that the Newland Court garages are not listed in the addresses included in the Conservation Area, but do they actually have an address? If not, that could be why they are not listed.
I also agree that no boundary change was mentioned in the Report to the Executive meeting in 2013 at which the amended Design Guide was adopted.
Despite this, I do not believe that the matter is as clear cut as you suggest. There was a consultation on the draft Design Guide, as legally required, and the Design Guide consulted on was adopted.
The map showing the amended boundary must have been specially prepared for the 2013 Design Guide, otherwise the Officer(s) preparing it would have used the existing map, which had been included in the Character Appraisal booklet that was published in 2006. That would suggest that this section of the boundary was deliberately amended from the 2006 map version.
Even if you maintain that the original line, along the boundary with Grendon Gardens, is the correct one, the comments document which I attached to my 6 January 2023 email still makes a very strong case against the Newland Court Garages application, 22/3124.
The breaches of the various Brent Local Plan policies which I listed all still exist, despite being not as strong in some cases, if the garages are adjacent to, and not within, the Barn Hill Conservation Area.
You have confirmed that Brent, as Local Planning Authority, 'must consider whether the proposal affects the setting of the conservation area, and whether it will result in harm to the conservation area', and that 'this will be duly considered when evaluating this planning application.'
I note that application 22/3124 is not listed on the agenda for the Planning Committee meeting on 8 February, which I hope means that Planning Officers do not feel able to recommend it for approval. I look forward to learning that the applicant has withdrawn this application, or that it has been refused. Best wishes,
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