Queensbury Rules – time for a party

A government inspector will decide in August whether Brent Council was right to refuse permission to demolish The Queensbury. The inquiry will sit for five days, starting on 28th August 2019. Just like with the last Appeal, we think we should have a voice at the Inquiry so we have asked for (and been granted) Rule 6 Party status.

What is Rule 6?

Save The Queensbury has been confirmed as a “Rule 6″ party at the inquiry and we are now working with the local Resident’s Associations, Councillors and a Barrister to prepare our “case” in advance of the inquiry. We have to submit our papers by 20th March 2019.

Why are we asking to be a Rule 6 party?

Being a Rule 6 party is a significant undertaking of time and effort. This campaign follows whatever process is necessary to protect the existing building (as the best way of protecting the pub and maintaining conservation). We believe the heritage role the building plays has been understated by the developer (and the council). Plus……. Even if… the pub is to be demolished we want to best protect a community space and pub in a new development.

So many developers promise to put pubs into a development then change their minds once planning approval has been received. Incredible, but true.

What will it cost?

We have some talented locals in the area but sustaining this campaign (now in its 8th year) is so draining!

Please step forward if you can help. We are not asking for money – our Barrister is pro bono and we have advice from the Campaign For Real Ale – so we aren’t looking for financial support but need more people to be involved.

How can you get involved?

Keep talking about the pub and how it is threatened. Email any group / association / forum you are on, or any local WhatsApp group and tell your neighbours. If you have anything to contribute – expertise, photocopying, posters, step forward now!

The Inquiry runs over five days and we will need people to attend and listen to how it’s going.

Please get in touch NOW if you know you will be available and willing to sit in on proceedings and show support in any way.

Queensbury yet again recognised as an Asset of Community Value – Hooray !

The Queensbury pub has once again been recognised as an Asset of Community Value. Hooray!

Brent Council has confirmed to accept the pub on their list for the second time. The Queensbury was the council’s first ACV, five years ago and it joins Kensal Rise library and a handful of others that are accepted as providing a significant role in their communities.

This is the first building to reapply for this status and it gives an extra layer of protection and should serve to warn prospective developers just how much The Queensbury is cherished locally.

Is ACV status important? Being on the list means that if the building is sold, the clock stops for six months to enable the community to bid to buy it (if the pub closes). More importantly for us, we will be pressing very hard to have the pub’s community status featuring prominently as a “material planning matter” when Brent and the government Inspector consider plans for The Queensbury later this year.

To recap, there are three plans submitted to demolish the pub.  Brent council will decide on two, over the next few weeks. The third is scheduled for a marathon public inquiry in late August.

ACT NOW and make sure you mention the community asset status when you object to the planning applications via these links:

Please go to Brent’s site for applications 18/4675 and 18/4701

A new year and three battles ahead to Save The Queensbury

Well done to all of you who commented on the Appeal via the government’s planning inspector website. We’ve heard that the Appeal will take place from 28th August 2019 for five days. This clashes with the bank holiday week, which is not ideal and on the back of comments to the inspector having to be submitted over the new year! We’ve asked for a new date so local community groups can take part.

There are also two new planning applications, to be decided by Brent Council. Again, comments were due early in the new year (clashing with the above) and lots of people have already commented.

But IT’S NOT TOO late to give comments on all three applications so PLEASE DO SO asap.

All comments are considered up to the point of a decision being made and the timescales given by the government and council planners are just minimums.

Please go to Brent’s site for applications 18/4675 and 18/4701

Both of these applications mean loss of the building and a replacement that is not befitting the conservation area. One has a different roof than the other and both miss Brent’s targets for affordable housing. Pictures are below in previous updates.

For the appeal, email enquiries@pins.gsi.gov.uk ENSURING you quote reference 3214420. The issues are much the same. The replacement does not equal or better the loss of a community building, which is an asset to the conservation area that is desirable to retain whereas the replacement will be less sympathetic. Refer to below for more detail.

This is a long haul. Thanks to the ongoing support of the Willesden Green Residents Association, Mapesbury Residents Association, the Willesden Town Team and NW2 Residents Association.

Between us we can send a message that the building should be retained, in a more conservation-sympathetic development. Make your views known and keep going!

ABC Scheming to Save The Queensbury

This week has seen a cynical (desperate) attempt by Redbourne to swamp the local council and residents with three plans, at what is the busiest week of the year. 

Two planning applications have been thrown in this week, with variations on the same theme:– 48 flats with insufficient Affordable housing. This is AS WELL AS the scheme currently being appealed. The new plans are Scheme A and Scheme B. See below Let’s call the scheme being appealed Scheme C. 

A,B and C downplay the existing building, all have a replacement pub doomed before it even opens because of its substandard design. The developer is trying to portray  that there are few options for The Queensbury other than demolition. 

We disagree. There is a plan D, which would make less profit but retain the existing building. This developer is clearly not interested in Plan D. 

PEOPLE OF WILLESDEN STAY FOCUSSED: What is important is to comment on Plan C – the Refused scheme which is being appealed. The government’s planning inspector needs your comments by 3rd January - still OPEN. Brent Council website is still taking comments as of 05/02/2019.

There are sound planning reasons to object to all of these plans as being detrimental to Willesden and Mapesbury: 

  • The replacement building does not preserve or enhance the conservation area – especially looking from inside the conservation area 
  • The existing building makes a positive contribution to the historic interest of the area, which will be lost 
  • The existing building also makes a positive contribution to the setting of the listed station, which according to the previous Appeal inspector, would be desirable to preserve
  • The mass of the base block (to the rear) is too bulky for the setting
  • The design of the proposal is detrimental to the conservation area
  • The proposal contains a pub but the design is poor – there is no soundproofing built into the design which means complaints from those above, and the pub becoming unviable. Those in the business refer to this as a “Trojan Horse” 
  • There is insufficient affordable housing proposed 
  • There are no safeguards for Busy Rascal, i.e. no legal agreements for them to continue whilst building works are underway. Nothing in the plans about how they would operate in the new premises. Both were promised by the previous developer as planning conditions. 

ONLY AFTER you have commented to the inspector, turn your attention to the new scheme via Brent’s website: 

Planning apps 18/4675 https://bit.ly/2LrpCTY 

And 18/4701 https://bit.ly/2rJpYfD 

Only comment once, but mention the other when you do. Neither of these will be considered before the Appeal. If the Appeal is kicked out (again) then so will these two. 

Merry Christmas to you all. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without scheme A,B,C.

Scheme A and B

Railway side scheme A and B

Scheme C

All I want for Christmas is The Queensbury

Action Stations

The latest plan to demolish The Queensbury at 110 Walm Lane was refused by Brent Council in May. The developer is now appealing to a government inspector and the deadline for comments from local residents is 3rd JANUARY 2019.

Please make your views known to the Inspector, the more the better. Head to this website:

Click on Make Representation – as a local resident you are an “Interested Person”

What should you say? Use your own words, but the things relevant to the Appeal are:

Conservation stuff

The Queensbury is a standout / gateway building at a cornerstone location, undervalued as a community asset and should be retained.

The proposed building is not a worthy replacement of the existing building, because of its poor design.

Demolition of the building and putting up 48 flats does not outweigh the harm that the proposal would cause to the character and appearance of the Mapesbury Conservation Area.

The proposal would not preserve the character and appearance of the Mapesbury Conservation Area, it is a modern-looking step backwards.

The scheme does not have enough affordable housing to justify demolition of the existing building.

The existing building should be protected on a local list, as the previous appeal suggested.

Pub stuff

There is a lot of debate about the new design of the building compared with the existing, but nothing about the design of the pub in the new building.

The replacement Queensbury will have low ceilings, limited outdoor space (overlooked by balconies of flats above) and lack character both inside and out.

There are no safeguards to protect the pub’s viability in a new scheme. For example lack of soundproofing of residential flats above the pub will lead to complaints (threatening the viability of the pub).

Access for prams and wheelchair users is restricted, because toilets are in the basement. The current building has one level access and toilets on the same floor. This is important for Busy Rascals users and the new design is a step backwards.

The previous plans insisted that the developer returns to Brent Council for specific permission to change the use from a pub to something else in the future. (Some developers promise a pub then say one isn’t viable, further down the line and once development has been approved. This will help stop that).

Busy Rascals stuff

Busy Rascals will be homeless. This impacts not just families using The Queensbury but the teachers who are paid to run classes.

At the last appeal the developer (Fairview Homes) provided a “ground floor use and operation statement” and accepted an obligation via a s106 agreement to find suitable accommodation for Busy Rascals during construction AND that development would not start until the developer had identified and made available the temporary community accommodation. This appeal should contain the same but it does not.

What Happens Next?

Please get comments in by 3rd January

Later in January a date will be set for the Appeal, likely to be a five day public inquiry and probably not before March 2019.

In the meantime, tell your friends and neighbours and encourage them to comment too.

Let’s play “Spot the Difference”

We feared the latest “exhibition” on demolition of The Queensbury would be a nightmare scenario and unfortunately our fears came true.

The exhibition presented two new “options” from GML Architects but was totally silent on their current Appeal proposal and there was no mention of retaining the existing building at 110 Walm Lane, which the previous Appeal thought desirable to retain, on conservation grounds. Any replacement to The Queensbury has to enhance conservation but boy oh boy how ugly is this?

The developer was not at the exhibition which is not only disrespectful but also plain weird. From that point onwards last night it was clear that this was a tickbox exercise with little intention of listening to residents. The PR company claim all the details are on the dedicated website but this is a dead site. It all points to a pointless exercise, falling considerably short of good practice engagement.

What did they exhibit?

Spot the difference. The first photo below is the scheme that they are appealing, to the government inspector and we face a six day public enquiry, again. This proposal was not on show last night but there was a “new” plan which looks cunningly similar.

The PR company only asked “option one or option two” with one having a roof that sloped slightly more than the other, but neither option was the plan that is subject to appeal. None of the graphics on show last night showed any image of the monstrosity of the rear of the block, focussing entirely on the front.

There were no graphics of the design they are appealing (the one below is from the previous application), which is very strange when the design is practically identical.

So what is going on here?

Architects claim that officers at Brent Council have advised them throughout on alterations that would be approved, for example having bay windows in spite of the building next door having none. They were surprised that the last plan was kicked out without even going to the planning committee.

What’s our view?

Classic developer tactics are at play.

The tactic is to swamp the planning department with three simultaneous applications – two that were on show and one being appealed – thus presenting a fait accompli or in plain English “we’ll keep going with one of these plans and there is nothing else on the table. Officers take your pick. We’ve spoked to the community and they prefer plan A over plan B.”

Any suggestion of retaining The Queensbury building, in a sympathetic scheme that enhances conservation is not possible in planning terms, so they’ll say.

Of course, we disagree. Just up the road is a scheme to retain the old police station, to develop it and build around it. That site is more constrained that 110 Walm Lane, more expensive to develop and presents significantly greater challenges. If it is possible there then it is possible here.

There is a fourth option.

The developer is appealing one decision and has placed two other plans on the table but there is a fourth option.

The prospects for the existing building are boundless – a cinema, boutique hotel, theatre, creative hub, nursery, retail….. with mews houses or apartments surrounding. It takes is a creative developer (willing to make slightly less profit) and a quality architect with experience which GML clearly are not.

It also takes officers at Brent Council to give clear, unequivocal advice to the developer that the existing building should be retained. By all means offer to work with the developer, but on a scheme predicated on that approach.

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Halloween horrors

STQ poster Nov 18It’s been quiet since May, then shock and horror for Halloween week.
In a leaflet drop over the weekend the owner / developer of 110 Walm Lane gave notice of a public consultation at St Gabriel’s Church Hall next Thursday 8th November. This is an exhibition of a “new plan” and an opportunity to “have your questions answered” yet the leaflet bizarrely fails to mention the pub nor include any further detail on what is planned. Likewise the dedicated website (www.walmlane.co.uk) provides just a date and map, so we have no clue how much of nightmare the New Plan will be.
Save The Queensbury is easily confused. At the same time the developer has applied to the government’s planning Inspectorate (cynically just days before the legal deadline) for a six day public inquiry into Brent Council’s decision to save the pub from demolition – based on the plan kicked out in May by Brent Council.
Please tell your neighbours, Councillor, friends and others about this and encourage them to pop along and give their views.

MayDay MayDay – Planning permission refused (again)

On 1st May Brent Council posted a note on their planning website saying that permission to demolish The Queensbury has been REFUSED.

We have outlined previously how Officers at Brent Council have worked closely with the developers yet consistently ignored our requests to meet to discuss how to protect the building from demolition.

Hence as things stand we do not know why the permission has been refused and whether it is on grounds of conservation, or merely because the developer has been encouraged to use a different colour of roof tile. This happened previously and fresh plans were submitted by the developer, but with slightly amended plans.

So for now, the champagne is on ice. It’s great that the pub lives to fight another day and we await the full decision and the rationale for it.

Locals maintain that the building is significant and the previous Appeal was clear. We ask once again for any developer wanting to profit on the site to build AROUND The Queensbury and NOT demolish it.

Thank you for your ongoing support and watch this space to see what happens next.

Update: the decision notice has been published HERE

Save The Queensbury Year Seven

QueensburyFairview Homes have moved on and the new freeholder of 110 Walm Lane, Redbourne (Queensbury) Ltd have submitted a plan to demolish the existing building, including The Queensbury public house. The application number is 18/0210 and the full details can be found here:

https://pa.brent.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=DCAPR_138145

In its place will be a five storey block comprising 48 “high quality” flats (14 x 1 bed, 22 x 2 bed, 11 x 3 bed, 1 x 4 bed). No more than 15 flats will be “affordable” because of the developer’s viability analysis. The affordable element is the minimum to avoid detailed scrutiny of “viability” and will be in a separate block to the marketed flats, at the rear.

There is a pub planned for the ground floor, along with a community space (essentially the function room of the pub). Both these combined are apparently a larger floor area than the current public house and there will be an element of outdoor seating.

The developer is apparently content for planning permission to be subject to a condition removing permitted development rights which would enable change the use of the public house without planning permission. This was a major victory of our ‘previous’ campaign because this has been the demise of many a pub (permission is granted to develop but a pub fails to materialise over time, with viability cited as the reason).

According to the developer, the benefits of this scheme are numerous and weighty. A “Heritage Impact Assessment” finds that the proposal would have a ‘broadly neutral’ effect on surrounding designated heritage assets. In other words, demolishing 110 Walm Lane will not adversely affect conservation in Mapesbury and Willesden Green. Many locals disagree with this and would like to keep the existing building.

How to respond?

Brent Planning Committee will decide on the plans, in due course and comments should be made via the portal listed above. The committee will not take much note of objections such as:

  • the pub won’t be the same
  • noise and disruption during building works
  • targets on affordable housing will be missed
  • there aren’t enough schools / doctors for all these people
  • we have too many flats already.

The committee will need sound planning policy reasons such as:

  • The existing building makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Mapesbury conservation area and should be retained.
  • Regardless of the size and shape of the proposal, the replacement of the existing building would lose the historical presence of original built form at the gateway to the conservation area.
  • The proposal neither preserves nor enhances the area’s character or appearance.
  • The appeal of the previous planning application concluded that the existing building makes a positive contribution to the setting of the Grade II listed tube station, which would be desirable to preserve.
  • New development would erode historic character. As a result, evidence of the original development and subsequent evolution of area, in particular of its buildings used by the community, would be lost. There would be harm to the conservation area’s historic interest.
  • There are no plans to rehouse Busy Rascals while development takes place. There should be a universal undertaking that commits that development can not commence until suitable alternative temporary accommodation for Busy Rascals has been secured, at no expense to the group.

Our view

Save The Queensbury have always accepted that the site is ripe for development but maintain that the location and neighbourhood means that a financial return could be realised by retaining the historic building and reopen it to wider use.

Although smaller in height than the previous plan, the proposal is still dense (particularly at the rear) and this is another example of profit outweighing conservation and community need.

Engagement with the community has been minimal and Busy Rascals do not feature in any of the 36 associated documents. There is no impact assessment on the removal of the vital services they provide, nor alternatives whilst building progresses.

Save The Queensbury represents those who want to protect the current building as an important focal point of history in Mapesbury and also to preserve the pub and community space.

Here we go again…

Following a long period of silence and pub enjoyment we have been notified by Brent Council that the owner / developer of 110 Walm Lane is holding a public exhibition at St Gabriel’s Church Hall on Thursday and Friday next week (28th and 29th September) between 4pm and 8pm.

This is a pre-planning consultation event and whilst we have had no contact from the developer, we gather the intention is to demolish The Queensbury and build a mixed-use development, 48 flats, including a new pub with function room. Blurb from the PR company running the consultation (Quatro-PR) claims the development is sympathetic to the Mapesbury Conservation area.

As a local interest group, we have also been invited to observe a meeting at Brent Civic Centre on 9th October, where Councillors will be briefed on the plans. It has been made clear to us that we cannot participate in that meeting but can merely observe.

We await detail of the proposals – no plan has been submitted as yet – but it is a brave developer who submits a similar plan to those derided not only by local residents, but by Brent Council and the government’s planning inspectorate too.

Keep an eye on twitter and facebook for updates.