Saturday 24 February 2024

LETTER: South Kilburn residents have a right to know what is going on with regeneration

 Dear Editor,

In August last year, South Kilburn residents received issue 1 of South Kilburn Regeneration News. A welcome sign that we might be kept informed of progress, despite the fact that `issue 1' came after regeneration has been going on for nearly 20 years, and in those preceding years there has been no attempt to let us know what is happening.

Rumours abound that the regeneration has hit the rocks and is stalling. Nothing seems to have happened with the Carlton Vale Boulevard scheme.. The medical centre promised for 2015 has yet to materialise, and in the meantime the building in which the Kilburn Park surgery was based has been declared unfit for use and then sold off. Rumours say the new medical centre will be opened early next year, but no information has been circulated, no explanation for the lateness or whether this medical centre will actually be up to the standard originally promised. A further rumour is that developers are pushing for an even smaller proportion of social housing than in earlier stages, with a preference for expensive market flats, would, if true, mean that any idea that this addresses the housing crisis is a bad joke.

Wembley Matters has carried several reports on the disgusting state of some of the blocks which tenants have been decanted to while waiting for new flats. Word has it that the stalling of regeneration means that many who have been promised new flats in South Kilburn will not be able to move into them for years.

South Kilburn regeneration has been plagued with problems throughout, with new blocks having to have scaffold up for years while cladding is removed, heating and mould issues in many new blocks and, most notorious of all, Granville New Homes blocks costing more to put right than the original cost. And the company that botched Granville New Homes given new contracts by Brent Council! On top of which many moved into new blocks find their rents and especially their service charges rising considerably. Many of the problems associated with new blocks have been denied by Brent, and there certainly haven't been issues of Regeneration News to tell us what is going on.

No-one attempts to give South Kilburn residents a truthful account of what is happening. Raising these issues at Brent Connects doesn't get any answers, let alone a commitment to inform residents. South Kilburn Trust, supposedly overseeing the  regeneration of the Carlton/Granville site never reaches out to South Kilburn residents and appears to be totally unaccountable, despite claiming to represent the interests of South Kilburn residents.. Even those few who have time and ability to trawl through - often impenetrable - Council documents are often none the wiser.

Having endured 20 years of living in a building site, compounded by Brent Council persuading HS2 to build their vent shaft in the middle of the estate (with the support of South Kilburn Trust) rather than on a empty car park near Queens Park station, and facing probably another 15 years on a building site, residents really do have a right to clear, truthful information.

Pete Firmin, chair of Alpha, Gorefield and Canterbury Tenants and Residents Association, South Kilburn



Philip Grant said...

Isn't the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee meant to be scrutinising this Brent Council redevelopment scheme?

Anonymous said...

Hi Philip, the meeting scheduled for the 27th Feb. has been cancelled and will now be on the agenda for the scrutiny mtg. In April.

However, it is only one of 3 agenda items with a review of the budget being one of them, probably leaving little time at the end of the mtg. to discuss Regeneration in Brent.

David Walton said...

With the Building Safety Act and Building Safety Regulator there is no longer the cosy option Brent Master developer loves of not engaging with this estates higher risk buildings residents fully in its often brutal re-development decisions. The only infrastructure for a tower is another tower.

If Brent had planning notified residents, would a single staircase new build 16 storey developer profit maximising tower have been possible on Carlton Vale in 2024. No, residents here saw nearby Grenfell burn 2017 and have followed the public inquiry's findings.

Fly-tipping Central under a 1970's 16 storey Large Panel System tower built up like a funeral pyre- also called Hereford House. With a residents included tall buildings zone safety board this developer idea for Hereford would never be allowed to happen.

Community-led plan 2001-2010, growth area Brent only plan 2010-2022, tall buildings zone no plan as yet 2022 ongoing.

The primary health care centre (an NHS investment growth area in conservation area de-population post pandemic health focused de-population developments), had £1 million project development funding to the NHS from the community-led first plan, so fingers crossed all the many moved out of South Kilburn for its population already more than doubled primary care facilities will now finally be state of the art facilities replaced.

Pete Firmin said...

There is a rumour to that effect, Phillip, but who knows. Past experience of scrutiny of regeneration was that Council officers denied any problems and Councillors accepted that.

Philip Grant said...


Further to my comment above, this is the text of an email I sent today to Cllr. Rita Conneely, a Kilburn Ward councillor who is also the Chair of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.

I would suggest that Pete, and any other residents concerned about Brent's South Kilburn regeneration, try to attend the committee meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 23 April, and that at least one resident requests in advance to speak to the meeting on the Regeneration agenda item.

This was my email:-

'Dear Councillor Conneely,

We were in touch in October last year, and I was hoping that you would follow up on your email of 13 October, when you said that you hoped to reply more fully to my email of 5 October.

You said that the letter to "Wembley Matters", from a South Kilburn tenant, which I had drawn your attention to was 'an area of significant concern to myself and a number of Cllrs & residents too.'

This was the "link" to that letter, which was headed 'Brent Council is failing South Kilburn residents who are living in fear in with damp, mould, cold and debt':

Another letter, from a different South Kilburn resident, has been published within the last couple of days, headed 'South Kilburn residents have a right to know what is going on with regeneration'. I hope you will read it:

You said when you wrote that your Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee had plans to look at estate regeneration in the current municipal year, and I see that is listed for your 23 April meeting.

The urgent concerns raised in these two published letters do need to be considered properly, and not just covered-up or minimised in an Officer Report, or presentation to you by the Lead Member for Regeneration.

With this in mind, I would repeat this part of my email to you of 13 October 2023:

'I would suggest that the problems in South Kilburn probably merit an urgent task group, led by one of your committee members, which could report back as part of that more general subject.

Even if you do not take up that idea, I feel it is important that you include residents from South Kilburn (and other estate regeneration projects you are looking at) as part of your scrutiny of this subject.

It is equally important that you really do probe into estate regeneration, a key part of your remit. Too often, Officers try to give only a positive spin on what is happening (like the glossy South Kilburn regeneration success article in the latest "Your Brent" magazine). Don't let them cover-up, or gloss over the problem areas!'

I will be publishing the text of this email as a comment under the latest online letter. Best wishes,

Philip Grant.'

David Walton said...

England's being by government harshly zoned-up American style (but without building codes) is clearly testing and stressing council abilities to deliver their statutory and discretionary expected duties to taxpayers, in Brent its become an in plain sight endangering of public health and wellbeing zoned.

Look at the London Planning Data Map, where de-population development conservation area expansion zones are all regional level mapped-in (apparently a lot of mapper work too as they keep expanding), while intensive population tall building zones are not mapped in, ditto the higher tier planning national Map of Planning Data for England.

Levelling up? How so, when growth of de-population zoned developments is national policy priority mapped and yet higher risk tall buildings car-free new housing zones of intensive population growth zoned are kept as mere local map planning matters. South Kilburn is even government experimenting a no plan tall buildings zone for nearly 2 years now. Public funded agencies really have to local look hard for where population growth zoned London is happening, no local level plan even (?), sorry they prefer to defer to the national priority de-population zone developments and their services and facilities resilience needs.

In good news..... The national tier Map of Planning Data for England does remove BSESA12 South Kilburn Public Open Space veteran trees woodland being built on, i.e. from being a Brent brownfield site a big council local plan want ever since 2010. When will major council investment in this 70 year old tall building zone only park open 24/7 finally start? It is SK regeneration year 23.

Philip Grant said...

I don't know where you got the information about the Scrutiny meeting being cancelled, Anonymous (26 February at 09:17), but that appears to be incorrect.

As there was nothing on Brent's website at lunchtime today (27 February) about a cancellation, I emailed the Governance Officer for this Committee. He confirmed that the meeting will be taking place at 6pm this evening.

Anonymous said...

Brent has lost control of South Kilburn - drug dealers have taken over empty flats while residents suffer as they wait for new accommodation. I can't tell if its incompetence or corruption

Anonymous said...

Hi Philip, the agenda item on Regeneration in Brent at the 27th February meeting was changed to "assets'. Regeneration in Brent will now be on the agenda for the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny meeting on the 23rd April 2024.

However regeneration in Brent is the last one of 3 items on the agenda and there may not be much time left to discuss it.

Pete Firmin said...

Anonymous at 2300 wrote "However regeneration in Brent is the last one of 3 items on the agenda and there may not be much time left to discuss it.". What's the point of having it on the agenda? Does that just mean the box has been ticked. or will the next meeting return to it with it at the top of the agenda? Or will it get buried as usual?

Anonymous said...

The agenda for the scrutiny mtg. on the 23rd April is as follows:-
1) Contracts mobilisation
2) The review of the 2023/24 budget- I expect this item may take longer than the other items, as our Cllr''s like discussing this topic.

3)Regeneration in Brent.




John Healy said...

Each of the remaining 7 sites will need to produce a business case to see if their project is financially viable and if it is, funding will be provided. However after 2024/25 there is no more funding available.

Reference:- Full council meeting on The Budget Published 29th Feb.2024