Sunday 4 June 2023

Are our parks and green spaces safe with Brent Council?

A meadow in Fryent Country Park was again used as a car park for football fans on Saturday. This time for those attending the FA Cup Final on the day of a rail workers' strike.  On social media  I expressed were concern about the use of a designated nature reserve for this purpose.

The meadow was  last used as a car park on another train strike day in June last year, this time for fans going to an Ed Sheeran concert. LINK

On that occasion Brent Council told Wembley Matters:

The event field at Fryent Country Park is available for commercial hire and events are very common there. Wembley Stadium approached the council to rent it on the basis the rail strike would create additional parking and traffic pressures in the Wembley area. The council agreed to its rental on the basis this would provide sensible relief across the wider area.


As well as a rental income to the council, the parking revenue was agreed to be ring-fenced to improve future event day management arrangements in the Wembley area, for example, more council enforcement, toilets and better fencing.


This is unlikely to be a regular occurrence, but the field is available for commercial hire as has always been the case.



Concern was heightened  by the news that Brent Council planners were recommending that Brent Planning Committee approve George Irvin's planning application to build four 3 storey houses in Barham Park. Liberal Democrat councillor for Sudbury ward, Paul Lorber, has written to Brent  Parks department asking whether this will set a precedent for other sites in the borough:

The Planning Officer recommendation on the Barham Park planning application going to Committee on 12 June 2023 suggests that the Council Housing Policies over rides this and the protection of Parks and Open Spaces is now a dead duck.

It is of some surprise to find that the Park Service made no representations on the Barham planning application and is silent on the issue and the implications for other Parks and Open Spaces.

Perhaps you can explain why?

In view of this can you provide the following:

  1.  List of all of Brent’s Parks and Open Spaces which have residential buildings (I am aware of around wood Park and King Edward VII Park for example) and other buildings which on the basis of the Barham Park recommendation are now at risk.
  2. How many of the above have been looked at and assessed as suitable for future housing development.
  3. Whether in view of planning officers  recommendations the Protection of Parks and Open Spaces needs to be reviewed and strengthened.
Residents across Brent are now asking “is our Park/Open Space safe?” and they need reassurance.

I would appreciate an early reply.


PS. As you know there used to be a large House in the middle of Gladstone Park some years back. As it was used as a private residence is the site now suitable and acceptable for a residential development? Is the Council position on Barham Park (silence by the Parks Service and the Barham Park Charity managed by Council officers) a precedent of what residents can now expect in the future?


This is the relevant section of the Officers' Report. The promise of the first paragraph is dismissed in the subsequent paragraphs:


The Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan designated Barham Park including the land within the application site as a Local Green Space under Policy LGS1, with LGS2 relating to Barham Park. This policy highlights that the Local Green Spaces will be given long term protection and proposals for development which is not ancillary to the use of the land for recreational purposes will be resisted. The Local Green Space designation for Barham Park includes the houses and the majority of their curtilages as being within the designated space. It is set out within Neighbourhood Plan policy BP1 (Barham Park) that any proposals for the re-use or redevelopment of park buildings for residential us (Use Class C3) will not be supported.


Neighbourhood Plan Policies LGS1, LGS2 and BP1 are relevant to the proposal as the site is within the area defined as Local Green Space by the plan. However, the proposal does not result in the loss of any Local Green Space. The site contains house for which the authorised use is as dwellings within Use Class C3 and as such, the proposal is not considered to result in the redevelopment of park buildings.

The proposal is considered to accord with policies LGS1, LGS2 and BP1. Nevertheless, if one contended that Policy BP1 relates to all buildings within the area designated Local Green Space as opposed to all buildings within the park itself, it is noted that the fall-back position for the applicant would be the continued use of the houses and their curtilages for their current lawful use, for purposes withinUse Class C3. In this instance the proposed redevelopment of the site would continue to be acceptable having regard to the existing use of the site.



G.Lee said...

there is something very very wrong about this planning application that will be discussed behind closed doors, and will benefit george irvin who happens to own / run the fair that is in situ in Barham at the moment.
Maybe this is the straw that will break the Mohammed's back?

Anonymous said...

Luckily we have those who will challenge things so that everyone knows how Brent Council are trying to con us!

The whole process of how this planning application has been handled needs full investigation - us residents deserve full transparency and our green spaces deserve protection.

What about the charity commission? Can they not investigate how Brent Council are running the Barham Park Trust and the very apparent conflicts of interest???

Anonymous said...

As for the car park in Fryent, one wonders how much profit the stadium made out of the car park?

Anonymous said...

Wonder how they will cope with strikes and ULEZ at the stadium which is supposed to be a public transport destination!

Paul Lorber said...

The Planning Officers are playing with words to justify their position.

The two house are very much "park buildings". They were specifically built as homes for Parks Department employees (gardeners) working in the Park. In those days section of the Park had a plant nursery and plants grown here were planted in parks across Brent. The steel structure of the remaining greenhouse is still within the Park.

In the 1970s, when the House were built, the Council forgot the nature of the gift by Titus Barham and treated Barham Park as its own asset rather than and asset owned by a separate Charity.

Parts of other buildings in the Park, includes parts which are now the Barham Community Library were taken over by the Parks Service for their offices - serving the whole of Brent. The Council conveniently forgot the the unique nature of Barham Park and never paid any rent for the use of the buildings by the Park Service.

Information as to who made the decision to allow the building of the two houses within the Park is not available. It is likely that the decision was made by Brent Council and NOT by the Barham Park Charity. Proper governance of the Charity had been ignored for years.

The intent of the Sudbury Neighbourhood Plan - developed by local residents was and is very clear. The residents and Sudbury Town Residents Association wanted to protect Barham Park from any form of development - and this includes the demolition of the two houses and their replacement by a taller/larger and intrusive development inside the Park.

That intent was confirmed by the fact that when the Barham Park Charity Trustees (by this time all Labour Councillors) decided to sell the two Houses to George Irwin they insisted on the signing of a Restrictive Covenant by both parties which specifically stated that building of more houses on the site would not be allowed.

It does seem odd that a Group of Councillors in charge of Barham Park make a very clear decision not to allow more house building in Barham Park only for another group of Councillors on the same Council to be recommended to approve the building of more houses in Barham Park.

The statement by the Planners that "the proposal does not result in the loss of Local Green Space" is also very odd as the applicant claims in their Planning Application that they served a Notice on Brent Council that their planning application involves/covers land which is not currently in their ownership.

The owner of that land subject to that Notice can only be the Barham Park Charity and the only land this can refer to is part of Barham Park which of course is "Local Green Space".

David Walton said...

In South Kilburn Stations car-free tenanted housing tall buildings 45 ha zone, the space Brent needs to double the amount of vehicle roads here by 2041 in this zone certainly doesn't keep our re-development surviving parks and green spaces safe.