Sunday 7 April 2024

Village Mews: A story of neglect, lack of maintenance and poor communication by a series of housing associations that leaves residents in a desperate situation



The ‘Village Mews’ housing next to St Andrew’s Church, Kingsbury, at first looks an idyllic enclave, surrounded by trees and in the shadow of a beautiful church spire, but closer inspection reveals a different story.


I was invited by residents to see for myself the conditions they live in caused by general neglect, lack of maintenance and roots from overgrown trees.


The development is more than 30 years old and was started by Paddington Churches Housing Association (PCHA), and then handed on to Genesis, which later merged with  Notting Hill Housing Trust to become Notting Hill Genesis. This series of landlords presided over gradual deterioration and neglect. 



 Part of a consultation slide show. Residents were not told what the different colours indicate but the red shows the garages and car park (could they be built on?), yellow shows the terrace houses (refurbishment?) and blue the building facing Church Lane housing 4 flats (demolition and re-build?) only one is occupied at present. Some parts of the site are missing from the image.



The timeline given to residents. The consultation has been extended until April 26th.


Now residents are being consulted on a further takeover by an entity known as Springboard Two Housing Association Ltd, a rather mysterious offshoot of Notting Hill Genesis, that proposes to decant residents into temporary accommodation while a survey and works take place. Initially residents were told it would be for 3 months, but this was later extended to 13 months. Of course, as no detailed survey has been carried it this could be far longer.


Residents are concerned about the suitability of the temporary accommodation for the residents of the 16 properties involved and whether it would be suitable for those with a disability or pets. They shudder at the thought of temporary hotel accommodation which appears a possibility as Notting Hall Genesis does not have enough property of its own to decant everyone into.


Residents are suspicious of the role of Springboard Twoand fear that when a proper survey is carried out (they claim that there has never been a thorough one and the latest consisted only of a ‘visual walkabout’ and desktop exercise) it may conclude that the whole lot should be demolished.  With 14 garages on site and a car park space, redevelopment could include infill housing as well as rebuild with the prospect of private sales. The proposals for Chalkhill Estate infill, sponsored by Brent Council, are seen as relevant.


One resident pointed out that their rent had risen by £40 a week over two years and that their accommodation is so poorly maintained that the electricity bill is £600 a month with a bath costing £3. Residents gain little from service charges with minimal gardening and maintenance of lighting.


As a green I am committed to safeguarding our trees, especially those with a Tree Preservation Order. Village Mews is in St Andrews Conservation Area, and this offers further safeguards. However, the lack of action on maintenance of the trees means, according to residents, that they have caused damage to drains, walls, doorways, roofs, and the driveway. Unfortunately, because of the lack of surveys, Notting Hill Genesis failed to produce sufficient evidence when an application was submitted to Brent Council for the felling of poplar trees and only a reduction of an ash and two oaks was approved.  They failed to mention huge branches that had fallen. Even then the actual works that took place removed less of  each tree than had been granted.  Residents said because of this ineptitude they have been left with an unenviable choice between safe and comfortable homes and protecting trees. 


All this might have been unnecessary if there had been proper maintenance of the trees on the site over the last few decades by the various housing associations.  The same would go for the church authorities and the maintenance and control of the trees on their land that abutts Village Mews.


The driveway, poplar trees on right. No evidence of damage according to Brent Council


 St Andrew's Church tree roots go into the back gardens of Village Mews and extend to back walls.


Proximity of the St Andrew's Church trees to the back gardens and houses


Tree roots displace the fence and run across car park area


Wall out of line after root and stem intrustion

Damp and drainage issues on terraced houses

Leaf fall from overhanging branches creates moss growth and subsequent roof problems

Tree roots block drains


 The following pictures are from the main house fronting Church Lane which accommodates four  flats only one of which is occupied and you will see why.

Porch roof collapse over front door


 Gap between wall and door

Crack in house wall


Internal cracks

Collapsing windows


Boarded up flat

Heavy iron drain pipes that luckily did not fall on anyone


There are 14 garages, only some of which are in use and a lot of uncertainty about how residents can apply to rent them. If they are left to deteriorate, as happened on Kings Drive Estate and Newlands Court, it could be used as justification for demolition and subsequent development.

Below is the 2022 Brent Council response to a request for cutting back several trees and felling the poplars.  Perhaps the evidence in the photographs above will encourage a review by Notting Hill Genesis, St Andrew's Church and Brent Council regarding a joint approach to tackling the  issue.



The Notting Hill Genesis consultation ends on April 26th and while residents understood that they could decide whether Springboard Two should take over their property, the statement from Notting Hill Genesis appears to see it as a done deal.


I asked Notting Hill Genesis about:


1. The failure to address and rectify the structural damage cause by neighbouring trees over a long period.

2. The results of any site surveys carried out and plans to rectify the problems.

3. The requirement that tenants move out into other accommodation while works are carried out - the period, the type of accommodation offered, whether the needs of disabled or elderly will be taken into account, whether pet owners will be offered pet friendly accommodation 

4. The role of Springboard Two - there is very little information available on this organisation. Please provide details.

5. Whether there are plans to redevelop the site, including the 14 garages - perhaps in partnership with Brent Council

6. Anything you can say that will reassure tenants


A Notting Hill Genesis spokesperson said:


We know the structural issues at Village Mews are having an impact on residents. While there is no immediate risk to the safety of the buildings, significant work needs to happen to resolve the issues and so we can provide the comfortable homes our residents deserve. Everything we do at Village Mews will be in support of that.


We acknowledge that our messaging has not always been as clear as we aspire to. We’re now working closely with everyone living there to ensure they understand both the approach we’re taking, and why we’re taking it.


Nothing happening here affects residents’ security of tenancy, the right to live in their home or their rents. If households need to move out temporarily, we will speak to them individually to fully understand their needs for an alternative home and make sure their requirements are met.





  • We are in discussions with Brent Council and our contractors about the trees at Village Mews to seek a solution that works for all parties
  • Work that could be required includes underpinning the foundations of homes, replacing any unstable walls to ensure structural integrity and drainage works to protect the drains against tree root growth
  • A full plan will be provided to residents by our contractors once it has been completed
  • Residents will not face any costs relating to this work
  • We will be transferring the homes to our subsidiary, Springboard Two, which is still part of Notting Hill Genesis. This technical solution allows us to free up extra funds that can be spent on the structural improvements, cyclical works, and enhanced energy performance



A Village Mews resident reacted:


That response is as expected and they’re making it seem they’re being transparent and have our best interests at heart (blah, blah, blah) but they’re being exceptionally sneaky glossing over the Springboard Two aspect. It’s interesting they say they WILL transfer to SB2 as from our understanding this current consultation period is to get views about this, and we oppose it. So, if they go ahead, how exactly do they have us in mind?! No transparency at all and I’m extremely concerned to be honest.




Anonymous said...

How very sad when housing association are only interested in profit and the council are blind

Anonymous said...

This HA clearly have a hidden agenda and are working towards development. What a sorry state of affairs

Philip Grant said...

The only reasons I can think of for why the Housing Association would want to transfer the property into a separate company are:

1. So that any development they carry out there could involve rents at a higher level than they are able to charge as a Registered Provider of Social Housing (in a similar way to Brent Council's wholly-owned companies First Wave Housing Ltd and i4B Ltd) - although they would still have to charge existing tenants social rents.

2. So that it would be possible to sell off Village Mews to a property developer, who would take over the existing properties and tenants, but would be free to try to get planning permission for a potentially profitable redevelopment of the site.