Thursday 4 January 2024

What is happening with the Bridge Park/Unisys redevelopment? Apparently, nothing.


Unisys House, Stonebridge

The death of Bridge Park fighter Leonard Johnson in November 2023 made me wonder where we were with redevelopment of the Bridge Park Leisure Centre and Unisys House. Unisys has been empty for decades and Brent Council made a deal with General Mediterranean Holdings to sell off its land as part of a scheme to redevelop the leisure centre and build housing and a hotel.

The community in Stonebridge waged a court battle over ownership of the Bridge Park Centre which had been set up by local black activists. The council won and seemed ready to go ahead. 

Questions were asked by Dan Filson, then chair of the Scrutiny Committee, about the wisom of dealing with GMH in the light of concerns over its owner and the companies Luxembourg registration. There was a concern about the effectivess of due diligence carried out by the Council and even Cllr Mike Pavey, then Deputy Leader of the Council,  had his doubts.

In an email in response to Philip Grant he said:

'I take your point on ethics and I for one am not comfortable dealing with companies registered in tax havens. Realistically though this is a much wider issue than this development. When you have companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Next routinely avoiding tax, it becomes difficult to hold this against any single company. We need national Government to lead a crackdown on legal tax avoidance and to insist on clearer transparency requirements. I don’t like dealing with companies registered in tax havens, but considering the size of the problem, I think the solution must come from the Government.’

 In September 2020 Ian Lunt, then the newly appointed Director of Regneration, signed off a Deed of Variation with Stonebridge Real Estate Development. LINK The Decision Form states that Shama Tatler. Cabinet Member for  Property, Planning and Regeneration was consulted

 Agreement to exchange a Deed of Variation to the Bridge Park Conditional Land Sale Agreement with “Stonebridge Real Estate Development” a UK-registered subsidiary company that has General Mediterranean Holdings SA as the parent company and Harborough InvestInc as the second guarantor.

The Decision Form states that Shama Tatler, Cabinet Member for  Property, Planning and Regeneration was consulted. However no details of the variation were released to the public:

Stonebridge Real Estate Development 2021 accounts have an interesting reference to its parent company GMH and its second guarantor Harborough Invest Inc LINK:

So it appears the Brent Council is in partnership with a subsidiary company that has doubts over its relationship with its guarantors: 'there can be no certainty that the support will continue to be available for the forseeable future.

This is GMH's account of the development and the agreement with Brent Council (undated) on its website LINK under the heading 'Land Development - UK':

Bridge Park Development

Known as Bridge Park, the 6.7 acre site area is located in easy walking distance from Stonebridge Park Station, in North West London. The development will have a Gross Development Value of circa £500 Million and will include more than 800 residential units, retail and a 198 room hotel, allied to a new leisure and community complex.

The development’s title ownership is divided between two parties, GMH Group, with the other being the London Borough of Brent (‘Council’). The GMH owned land includes a pair of imposing curvilinear office towers, one of which is ideally suited to conversion into a hotel and the other to residential, perhaps multi-family.

The Council ownership has an existing leisure and community centre and other commercial office buildings that are proposed to be demolished and replaced by a state of the art sports hall, swimming pool and other new community facilities, all of which are to be delivered by the Council at its expense.

GMH has exchanged contracts with the Council, subject to planning, to purchase the majority of the Council Land and develop both its ownership and the balance of the Bridge Park site into a new urban location with a range of much needed housing (including affordable), retail, a prominent hotel, as well a leisure and community facilities complex.

This important regeneration will bring jobs, homes and new community facilities, fully exploiting the great public transport links and general accessibility and prominence of the site.

The development seems a long way away now in 2024.

I asked Brent Council where the development was at present and they responded:

We don't any current planning applications. If that changes there will of course be public consultation.

Also there aren't any reports planned for Cabinet on the Forward Plan.



Anonymous said...

Well if Shama Towerblock Tatler was consulted (and therefore agreed) then Brent Council are probably being robbed blind. Brent are still sleepwalking into bankruptcy. I mean, just look at their achievements to date, most are recorded on Wembleymatter and it makes one dispair for the future.

glynis said...

and so it stands there at the junction of the North Circular for all to see! A massive dark, ugly monolithic reminder of the incompetence of Brent Council, the dodgy dealings of tax-evading companies it deals with, and the growing problem of homelessness in the capital....

Anonymous said...

This building still stands as somewhat of an iconic sign post on the North Circular Junction signalling all to the fact they are at the gateway to Wembley. Now a miserable, bland, concrete jungle, full of ugly High Rise densely populated tiny overpriced flats, run down, graffitied, tatty shops, and cheap takeaways completely devoid of what is was like 40 years ago when this building was home to Unisys. In its heyday Wembley was home to the iconic Wembley Stadium, tree lined streets, all Brent Parks had award winning Green Flag status, Youth services were some of the best in the UK, a vibrant High Road which many travelled to shop there along with a well visited Sunday Market. A beautiful metroland of which was 50% was green. Now a shadow of itself less than 10% green, some of the highest air pollution rates in the whole of Greater London.... and who do we thank?
Brent Council as this has nothing to do with lack of government funding, it's down to mismanagement of public funds i.e. Council Tax etc, lack of investment, and a complete disregard for the residents.

Anonymous said...

Another meaningless consultation!

Anonymous said...

Perfect description and conclusion

Anonymous said...

What consultation?

Anonymous said...

nothing to do with lack of government funding - lol

Anonymous said...

Cllr Shama Tatler has demonstrated no accountability to the public, even to her own @BrentLabour members. Considerable disquiet over her instructions to developers in meetings included officers, to delete social housing on developments go unaccountable. Cllr Tatler will know her evading of accountability allegedly wishing to be a blue eyed girl to Sir Keir Starmer

Anonymous said...

Do not blame the state of Wembley on the Government!

Brent Council has generated millions of pounds in NCIL money revenue by granting planning permission for thousands of developments against the wishes of local.people. Why has this money not been spent on vital local projects?

It is Brent Council that has granted planing permission for thousands of student accomodation properties which do not contribute anything to our local council tax funding, further depleting local services.

If our house stood empty and derelict for decades Brent Council would force us to sell it or make repairs yet they allow rhe Unisys blocks to continue to stand empty - these blocks could be housing people.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Shama Tatler was a secondary school history teacher - we all have transferable skills but it's a huge jump to go from that to her current roles of "Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources & Reform and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning & Growth"???

Anonymous said...

Good spot there.

Anonymous said...

I remember attending the opening day at Bridge Park and felt and saw the sense of pride that day. I just feel a concern now how Brent Council has so badly lost its way. Where ever you look in Brent there are tatty poorly designed buildings?
The decline continues through out the borough.

Anonymous said...

Anon 16:10 stated "Wherever you look in Brent there are tatty poorly designed buildings?

You forgot to mention the thousands of poor people, hungry kids, rough sleepers, beggars, scammers, queues outside food banks, unrestricted and unprosecuted crime, lack of policing in the right areas, shop lifting as a necessity, uncared for properties, gangs, unabated rising rents, graffiti, fly tipping. Then there are unloved parks, thoughtless planning decisions, stupid high rise developments for anyone but Brent residents, and all caused by the current Labour administration who look after themselves and their mates plus property investors first and foremost and yet they always blame the government for the council's mistakes and conyism.

Anonymous said...

History will show who at Brent Council made all these poor decisions and which councillors didn't vote or campaign against them!

Anonymous said...

You seem to have tunnel vision, there’s literally no point in trying to reason with people like you. You’re the type to bring everyone down. You must live a life of pure misery.