Monday 12 June 2023

Barham Park application approved. Dire implications for protection of our green spaces and validity of Neighbourhood Plans



Sudbury residents protest in the public gallery - 63 objections and a 160 signature petition


 Cllr Saqib Butt in a declaration at the beginning of the meeting said, 'Can I confirm that I am connected with the applicant and near enough all the signatories on the petition on social media' and Cllr Akram said he was declaring the same. * The legal officer confirmed they could take part. Cllr Rita Begum declared that she had received a gift, tickets for the developer's funfair, but confirmed these were below the £50 declaration limit. She might have well have reclused herself because her only participation in the discussion of the application was to vote for it.

 Cllr Paul Lorber, Lib Dem, (Sudbury)  made a decent fist of presenting all the things wrong with the planning application to build 4 three storey houses within Barham Park, replacing 2 small park keeper houses.

Cllr  Tea Benea, Labour (Sudbury) also spoke against the proposal and Cllr Ketan Sheth, Labour (Wembley Central) had his statement also opposing the development read out as he was chairing another meeting. Cllr Benea is a new councillor and Cllr Sheth a veteran who himself is a former chair of Planning Committee. 

Cllr Ketan Sheth said that when he was Chair of Brent Council’s Planning Committee he led on the conversations with residents for setting-up Neighbourhood Plans. Sudbury Town Residents’ Association was the first to engage with the Borough in drawing-up a plan, in consultation with the local community and planning officers. In 2015, the Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan was put to voters, and the community, in its area, with more than 900 people voting to accept it, 93% of the total votes cast.


Following that the Council then adopted the approved plan, and it remains the relevant part of Brent’s Local Plan policies for the Sudbury Town Neighbourhood, which includes the location for the planning application. A new designation - Local Green Spaces, was introduced in legislation for Neighbourhood Plans. This allowed communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them. The Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan, at policy LGS1, identified four Local Green Spaces, one of which is Barham Park.


He said that today, local Green Spaces have the same protection in planning law as Green Belt land and that the Neighbourhood Plan’s green spaces policy BP1 is very clear about the nature of that protection, which applies to Barham Park, stating ‘Any proposals for the re-use or redevelopment of park buildings for residential use (Use Class C3) will not be supported.’


776 and 778 Harrow Road are park buildings. Originally, they were built within the park as homes for park-keepers. The proposal in this new planning application is seeks to demolish these park buildings, and redevelop the site to provide four residential townhouses. He recognised that these additional units could be a place for new residents or existing to call home but said it was clear, that this new planning application falls within the type of proposal, which policy BP1 states will not be supported.


Cllr Sheth went on to say that he was acutely aware that the current buildings lack any architectural merits; and suggested it is a moot point whether they are fit for habitation. However, he said it would be wrong for the current application to seek to override the Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan, unless there is convincing strong evidence to the contrary. To approve the application, in its current form, would be contrary to the Local Green Space policy BP1, which takes precedence over any contrary Brent planning policies, and would undermine the fundamental purpose of this Neighbourhood Plan. He suggested that the application should be reconsidered, and a revised application for a like-for-like replacement be encouraged.

When the agent for the developer spoke he said he would focus on the technical aspects of the proposal and when questioned said he knew nothing about the covenant on the site. Rather extraordinary.

One councillor on the Planning Committee had to be put right by the chair when he told an objector that the proposed houses would reduce the council's waiting list for council homes - they are not council homes, nor likely to be affordable at private sale.



Even more extraordinary though was the senior planning officer who went round in circles about the weight to be given to the Sudbury Neighbourhood Plan, the Brent Core Strategy, the Local Plan and the London Plan.

Eventually he said that all were relevant but you can ask, 'what harm would it cause if you break it?' and if the harm was less then go ahead.

This raises obvious questions about whether Neighbourhood Plans, despite all the work put into them by residents, are worth the paper they are written on.

There was an Alice in Wonderland discussion about whether buildings in parks are park buildings...

Clearly our green spaces are not in safe hands.

My impressionwas that Cllr Collymore did not vote (I was sitting behind her) but I have since been told she claims to have voted in favour along with her Labour colleagues. Cllr Michael Maurice (Conservative) voted against.

Cllr Muhammed Butt was in the room when I arrived but left before the meeting was due to start. In fact it started 30 minutes late due to technical problems.

Probably that was the least of the problems connected with this application which has succeeded at the 11th attempt but the covenant may still be the elephant in the room.

*Updated after listening to the recording of the meeting


Anonymous said...

Absolute travesty! Neighbourhood Plans do have power in law but unfortunately when there are no lawyers representing justice in the room abuse of power will take place. Once the planning decision is published there are only 6 weeks to legally challenge a Planning Committee vote. On a positive note, I don't think the Neighbourhood Plan has been undermined. 2 houses that are currently standing and occupied are being replaced by 4 houses. The properties have always been residential and will continue to be residential. There is no change of use. Flats were not permitted and no tall buildings. A limited development proposal has been accepted. However, this is still unacceptable given the land was gifted to the people of Sudbury Town and Wembley. The land should never have been sold in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Mo Butt is the elephant in the room!!!

David Walton said...

Maybe a campaign for Local Green Space Designation of Barham Park pushing the covenant is a good idea now?

Vale Farm Sudbury is the only LGSD in entire 'Fade to Grey Brent', so far yet Bromley has 18 LGSD's! And Bromley's has no Great Western car-free tenanted towers mega city exclusionary growth building over many of its existing communities either. Green levelling up of boroughs?

The South Kilburn Neighbourhood Plan 3 year consulted cost £3 million to produce of 2004 was cancelled two weeks after Grenfell fire.

Chippenham Gardens Local Centre is having its shops converted into flats yet no Brent 'plan' says destroying this Victorian Local Centre is Brent policy given a car-free, work from home quintupling of population to 2041 tall building zone new plan.

Anonymous said...

Our local MP Barry Gardiner in 2021: a very clear objection to any development in Barham Park

Our local MP Barry Gardiner in 2023: he's not commented at all on this new planning application despite being asked to object several times by local residents, so looks like he's now completely in favour of development in our park 😞

Our other Brent parks will be targeted next.

Anonymous said...

The buildings will be taller 3 storeys rather than 2 and wider and deeper taking up more of the gardens there so their overall mass compared to the overall mass of the existing buildings will impact on the park - and all the extra windows side and back will leave park users further overlooked.

Anonymous said...

"Cllr Saqib Butt and Cllr Akram both declared a 'relationship' interest with the developer, but legal confirmed they could take part. Cllr Rita Begum declared that she had received a gift, tickets for the developer's funfair, but confirmed these were below the £50 declaration limit." - how were these 3 allowed to vote on this sensitive planning application? Something's wrong here!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in the light of such local opposition, Mr Irvin, obviously a successful entrepreneur, might consider following in Titus Barham's footsteps and re-gifting the two be or not two be (non) park buildings back to the local community for their leisure and enjoyment in a philanthropic gesture? After all, who will inherit the properties at a later time ....? Then what? More future planning applications? Let's hope this motley planning crew will all be retired by then and not allowed to move to wonderful picturesque scenic locations elsewhere in GB but be made to reside in the Brent of their own creation ........ and look what that creation is fast becoming!

Martin Francis said...

Anon at 09.37 I made a mistake in trying to decipher what Cllr Butt said while I was listening in the hall and have checked the recording. He said, 'Can I confirm that I am connected with the applicant and near enough all the signatories on the petition on social media.' I am still trying to work out exactly what the legal officer asked them to confirm as audibility on the recording is poor. (At 07.41)

Anonymous said...

What petition on social media?

Anonymous said...

What a fiasco. Clearly indicates that Brent's Planning Dept are a law unto themselves. Complete disregard for their adopted policies, guidelines, covenants, the law etc etc, and as for Trustee's, the less said about them the better, they don't give a damn.

My advice to anyone considering applying for Planning in Brent would be ......don't bother, save your money, build what you like, cos no one really cares and it will take enforcement years and years to take action against you, and it won't matter in the end as others will have set precedents.

Philip Grant said...


Anonymous (13 June at 14:20) says that 'Brent's Planning Dept are a law unto themselves.'

I'm afraid they may be right, but I have written to Brent's Head of Planning asking for an explanation of what a Planning Officer told Committee members yesterday evening about the relevant planning policies.

Here is the full text of my email:

'Dear Mr Ansell,

I watched and listened to yesterday evening's Planning Committee meeting when application 22/4128 was considered, and there was an important planning policy point which was not explained. I would ask that you do not issue a consent letter on this application until this matter has been resolved.

I will set that point out, in bold type, below, and would ask you to reply to it promptly, please, with copies to the Chair of the Planning Committee, the councillors who are probably as puzzled by this issue as I am, and the Chair of the Sudbury Town Residents' Association.

Cllr. Dixon and several other committee members asked Officers for clarification over the relative importance of the Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan policies in considering the application.

It was clear that Officers accepted that the application site was within the Barham Park Local Green Space, so that the Neighbourhood Plan policies LGS1, LGS2 and BP1 applied. Several other more general Local Plan policies were also relevant.

No answer appeared to be given, by either of the Planning Officers who spoke at the meeting, to the question raised over whether policy BP1 took precedence over the more general policies. However, at the end of a long answer by your Development Management Manager he appeared to state that what mattered, more than all of those policies, was that the application would not cause harm.

Planning applications have to be determined 'in accordance with the relevant planning national, strategic, local and neighbourhood policy framework.'

[The following sentence is what was in bold type in my email]
What is the planning policy, relevant to application 22/4128, which dictates that if an application would not cause harm, that overrides policies such as those in the Sudbury Town Neighbourhood Plan?

Please provide the full text of that policy, as well as its source and policy number, in reply to this email. Thank you. Best wishes,

Philip Grant'

Anonymous said...

Well done Cllr Lorber, Cllr Matt Kelcher “struggling to understand” was the most patronising thing we have seen for a while.

Anonymous said...

Why would he do that when he will now make millions selling the four houses that he will build on the site which lies completely within Barham Park that he bought cheaply (apparently at an auction that no one else knew anything about) because the land came without development rights but he clearly knew he would get his 'pals' at the Council to overturn the Covenant - why else would Cllr Mo Butt make himself chair of the Barham Park Trust?

It all needs a full and proper investigation 🔎

Anonymous said...

More like the hypocrisy of Cllr. Lorber pleading on the video that the local plan should be followed at Barham Park. He supported and supports the Preston Library development which was found TWICE by the High Court to be contrary to the local plan.
He is no different to Labour or the Conservatives - the law must be followed by ordinary residents but not by politicians (local or national).