Wednesday 7 February 2024

UPDATE: APPROVED BY PLANNING COMMITTEE TONIGHT. Developer to pay Brent Council £2.2m to reduce affordable student accomodation at Fairgate house to zero


Demolition in progress on the High Road


With immense brass neck the developer of Fairgate House, 390-400 and 402-408, High Road, Wembley, HA9 has come back to Brent Council renaging on the 35% affordable student housing that enabled the application to be fast-tracked and consented. LINK  LINK

They now want to reduce the affordable element to zero percent  through a Deed of Variation and offer Brent Council a measly pay-off  (Payment in Lieu) of just £2.2m towards affordable housing elsewhere.

Even more astonishing, council planning officers recommend that Brent Planning Committee accepts the deal at tonight's meeting.

Ironically the scheme was used as a positive example of what was possible by councillors opposed to a neighbouring scheme that offered no affordable accommodation  when that was approved by just 4 votes to 3. LINK

Extract from Wembley Matters' account of that meeting:

Cllr Afzal questioned why student accommodation when there was a crying need for housing  for the thousands of people on Brent's housing list.  I have embedded the video of the discussion that resulted above as it rehearses many of the arguments on both sides of the debate and important for future applications.

A particularly controversial aspect of the proposal was that unlike Fairgate House, the scheme proposed no affordable student housing at all, based on a viability assessment. 

The developer, Regal London, claimed exceptional reasons for the lack of affordable accommodation and offered £3.95m for affordable housing elsewhere as well as  £70k towards local parks.

So the Fairgate House developer is now offering less. The original 35% affordable becomes the equivalent of just 5% affordable. From the officers' report one would imagine that £2.2m would pay for loads of homes!

It is recognised that there is a London wide need for affordable student accommodation and the proposed change in the provision (to a Payment in Lieu towards traditional affordable housing) would result in the affordable provision diverging from the requirements set out in London Plan Policy H15. However, given the very significant need for low-cost rent affordable homes (Social and London Affordable Rent) and the presence of extant consents held by the Council within which additional affordable housing could be provided, it is considered that a change to a payment in lieu would result in significant planning benefits.


It is considered that there are exceptional circumstances for the PiL approach to be supported in this particular instance, as set out above. This offers greater public benefit to Brent by contributing towards addressing local and strategic housing needs for conventional Use Class C3 affordable accommodation. It is recognised that the proposed payment in lieu would represent a significant reduction when compared to the extant consent which was subject to the fast-track approach. However, the contribution would represent the maximum viable affordable contribution. The benefits of the development are considered to outweigh the harm associated with the scheme. It is recommended that members delegate authority to the Head of Planning and Development Services to enter into a Deed of Variation to secure the legal obligations set out above.


Let's see how the Planning Committee deals with this tonight.


Anonymous said...

The London Borough of B~ent strikes again.

B~ent the student accomadation capital of Britain.

Wondering if Butt and Tatler are changing the Planning Policies again to get this through?

Paul Scott said...

The planning committee should defer this application because it would be an outrage if these plans to reduce the affordable housing level went ahead.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul Scott

The leadership in Brent don't give a fig about outrage, anything goes in the wild west that was once known as Brent

Anonymous said...

I see they are using the Mumbai Junction/John Lyon argument for providing little or no affordable offering. It was bound to happen, they'll all be at it now.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we have affordable housing for local residents who will contribute to the community long term?

Anonymous said...

Disgusting decision by the Planning Committee. Brent Councillors obviously don't care about their own residents, just profit for developers and foreign investors.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Student accomodation = no council tax from the students nor the building owners.

However the students will all use our already overstretched local services.

Anonymous said...

Sadly it is very believable!!!

Anonymous said...

What a terrible, thoughtless decision yet again at the expense of Brent's homeless, those in overcrowded homes, or substandard homes, and not forgetting those with rouge landlords etc.

Well done Bent Planners and Councillors, you've done it again. We all know you are doing this at the bidding of Towerblock and Butt, why the other councillors believe their clap-trap is beyond the rest of us.

They could make a film about this called "Carry on for anyone but Brent residents"

Anonymous said...

No wonder the tubes are full in the morning and evening while students commute miles to their supposed colleges. Ok, some are pukka students, but even they nring nothing to the borough other than congestion, pollution, and oh yes, very high rents for local residents.

Philip Grant said...

On the latest figures that I've heard (unofficially), £2.2m would probably be the cost of building the two four-bedroom houses at Rokesby Place.

Brent Council received planning consent for this "infill" scheme in August 2022, despite the objections of existing estate residents and neighbours, but the proposed development was "put on ice" because it would not be viable.

Having argued that these large family homes were urgently needed, in order to get planning permission, Council Officers then told Brent's Cabinet, just a few months later, that they would need to sell one of the two houses in order to be able to afford to build them!

That would leave just one 4-bed/7-person house for a Council tenant, at London Affordable Rent level (not the Social Rent promised in the planning application).

It will be interesting to see where that £2.2m promised by the developer, in order to get a "variation" from what it had promised to get the original planning consent, is actually spent by Brent Council, if that is ever disclosed (and if they actually ever receive the £2.2m in the first place!).

Anonymous said...

Names of the Council Leaders, Planning Commitee Members and Planning Officers are all logged in Council documents so that future generations can see exactly who ruined Brent.

Council documents will also show which councillors fought against these plans.

David Walton said...

The £2.2 million spent on conservation area extension works or more likely on another tower- Developers have their own circular economy.

Brent Game of Zones.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was funny the Cllr Maurice fell asleep during the discussion so couldn't vote!!

Philip Grant said...

On the subject of the need for genuinely affordable homes in Brent ....

I saw a poster on the underground this morning for "Quintain Living" apartments in Wembley Park. These were advertised as being FROM £1703 a month for a studio flat!

Anonymous said...

Rent City for anyone who can afford it, especially foreign students and their families, Brent residents need not apply

Anonymous said...

IF Cllr Maurice was asleep why did none of the other councillors have the sense or curtesy to wake him up???

This is local politics ot is not something to be laughed at!!!

Trevor Ellis said...

I believe that the response to this article is telling about the way that local residents and the general public feel about the way that the Brent Council planning committee makes decisions on important things such as housing.

Anonymous said...

Mo Butt's Rubber Stamp Committee