November campaign update

** NEXT MEETING: TUESDAY 27 NOVEMBER, 7pm @ THE QUEENSBURY**

This is the first update since we started the campaign to Save The Queensbury pub in Willesden Green from demolition and development. Hopefully you will find the update useful. Please get in touch if you have, or need, any further information.

What do we know? Two planning applications have been submitted by Fairview Homes to demolish The Queensbury pub and erect a block of flats, between 2 and 10 storeys high. Fairview Homes already owns the land. Brent Council will need to decide whether to grant permission, but a date has not been set for the decision. It could be before Christmas or, more likely, in early 2013.

What have we done so far? In mid October local people who love The Queensbury pub, The Queensbury deli (its sister business) and the local area in general started a petition, gathering signatures outside Willesden Green tube station. A few days later, 20 people met up to formulate a plan to save the the pub. These people were frustrated that so few local residents had been made aware of the proposal. So they printed leaflets, set up this website, started a Twitter feed, established a Facebook page and created an online petition on Brent’s website. Some of these volunteers also went door-to-door to raise awareness and collect signatures, with the result that the paper petition has grown enormously!

Who else is with us? Some Brent Councillors, both  Labour and Lib Dem, have objected to the development, along with the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and the local MP Sarah Teather. Pop band The Wanted, who also live locally, have added their support bringing us global awareness. We’ve had lots of coverage in the local and regional media (see here). We have also enjoyed expert support from the Campaign for Real Ale (CamRA) who know a thing or two about how to keep pubs open. Locally there are community groups trying to keep libraries open and protect Willesden Green and they have given excellent support, along with the NW2 Residents’ Association and the Willesden Green Town Team.

What can you do? If you’ve not done so already please formally object to both planning applications on the Brent website. You can also sign the online petition and drop an email to your Councillor(s). All these objections have to be taken into account when Brent Council makes its decision. Ask your neighbour to do the same! If you have time to hand out or deliver leaflets in the area, or even knock on a few doors, get in touch and we’ll tell you how.

What’s next? We are awaiting a date from Brent Council about when they intend to make the decision. However, this decision will be only the first step in the process. This could take a long time with appeals and revisions on both sides, but we are a determined group! We want to save the pub not just for drinkers but for the whole community.

Our next campaign meeting will be on Tuesday 27th November, 7pm at the Queensbury, all welcome, please drop us a note to say if you can attend.

Experiences of a first-time doorstepper

Cricklewood resident, Shell, describes how she “popped her doorstepping cherry” to campaign for the Queensbury.

I’m not by nature a chatty person, nor do I relish interrupting people in their homes (I am never fond of dealing with door-to-door calls at my home). But the Save The Queensbury campaign is something I feel passionately about, and there was never going to be a better reason to pop my doorstepping cherry than to raise awareness and collect signatures to help.

I girded my loins and set off with a handful of leaflets and some petition sheets. All in all it was a pleasant experience. I got the real feeling that I was helping out: there were many people who cared about the pub and the local area  yet who were not aware of what was going on. I was able to furnish them with information and contacts to help them.

I met a lot of lovely people, and discovered a few pieces of information myself. For example, there are really nice pop-up shops on Queens Parade. The lady in Floral & Hardy not only signed the petition and took some leaflets to hand out, but told me about the plans to demolish the gorgeous art deco Electric House next door. A lot of shopkeepers are disappointed to hear that, just as Willesden Green seems to be picking up, it might lose one of its nicest social venues.

And what a diverse neighbourhood we live in! Ranging from small, tired council flats to grand, beautiful detached houses; there were all sorts of people, from the old-time Irish to the young Polish families. You couldn’t tell up front who would support our campaign and who would be patently indifferent. My favourite response was from a delightful and rather posh lady who loudly exclaimed “Oh no, not another one” when I told her about the demolition plans. It turns out that Brent is recklessly fond of the idea of knocking down characterful (http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2972967), old buildings (http://www.brent.gov.uk/regeneration.nsf/Willesden%20Green%20Library/LBB-343) and replacing them with modern blocks of flats.

It wasn’t all glamour though! Some people couldn’t care less and closed the door on me before I could ask why. It was a rather cold day, so it was no time to be standing around. After 2 hours (collecting 18 signatures) I was rather glad to have run out of leaflets and go back home.

So, if you are hesitating about helping – don’t! Get out there and spread the word. You never know who you might meet and what you might learn.

Growing number of councillors oppose Queensbury demolition plans

Carol Shaw (LibDem councillor for Brondesbury Park) has added her voice to the growing number of Brent councillors who oppose the demolition of the Queensbury.

In an email to the campaign she wrote:

“I object to the demolition of the Queensbury for the following reasons:
1) Lack of proper Consultation
2) Wrong type of housing. The proposal fails to meet Brent’s requirement for affordable and community housing
3 ) Loss of a much loved pub and community space and active frontage
4) Loss of a social hub

I will be speaking against this at the planning meeting.”

It’s just three days since we officially launched our campaign and already three councillors  (Labour and Liberal Democrat) have spoken out against the proposals. All three councillors who have objected so far have done so after being approached by residents.

However, there are 63 councillors in Brent. We need many more of them to speak out if we are going to save our beloved pub. If you haven’t already contacted your councillor with your views please do so now. They have a duty to represent your views to the planning committee. Three out of 63 is not enough!

You can find out who your councillor is and how to contact him/her by clicking here.

 

A second Brent Councillor declares an objection…

An objection from the address of Brent’s Cllr Jones, on the Brent planning site says,

“I have been approached by residents in my Willesden Ward to support their objections to this application and I refer in part to items in the pretentious Design & Access Statement. I do not consider the proposal enhances the location. The Queensbury has an important role as a family friendly meeting place. The height of the frontage apes rather than reflects sympathetically the local high points such as St Gabriel’s Church tower. Consider the plan for 56 flats excessive and contrary to the Design and Access Statement,it does exploit the potential for cramming in new homes.

Willesden appears a target for some aggressive development schemes that increases housing density without providing the amenities necessary to sustain them. There appears to be little regard to the impact on the local infrastructure such as schools and medical facilities. Brent is already pressed to provide sufficient school places and Willesden locality is acknowledged to have fewer general practitioners per 1,000 residents compared to other areas of the borough.

The proposal would bring overcrowding to the area rather than the vitality suggested. Disagree with the description of the current building as being of poor quality. It fits sympathetically with its neighbours. With a PTAL rating of 5 and proximity to Willesden Green Underground Station and local bus routes the development does not really need 50% car parking provision.”

SaveTheQueensbury calls on other Brent Councillors to represent the views of their residents in objecting to the proposal to demolish The Queensbury.

Support from Councillor Krupesh Hirani

Krupesh Hirani, councillor for Dudden Hill ward, has become the first Brent councillor to declare his opposition to the current plans to demolish The Queensbury.

Writing on his blog he states:

“I understand concerns in the local community about this pub. The pub is outside of my ward, but I know that it is important to many who live in the ward. I do agree that it is one of the more decent establishments of its kind in the local area. I was personally unaware of the activity for children being run at the Queensbury but from a weblink supplied by a constituent, it does appear that a lot of positive activity does happen”.

Councillor Hirani has submitted a formal objection to the planning application on the grounds that the the current development does not supply enough wheelchair-accessible housing. Section 5.78 of Brent’s Adopted Core Strategy requires that that all new homes are designed and constructed to Lifetime Homes Standards and that 10% should be wheelchair accessible/easily adaptable.

We thank Councillor Hirani for his support, but would point out that we oppose any development which seeks to demolish an historic building housing a thriving business and community space in order to replace it with a residential tower block.

Our petition now has144 signatures and objections now stand at 136, so come on Brent councillors, join your colleague, support your constituents, and get this proposal thrown out! You can view Councillor Hirani’s blog post on the development here and his letter to the planning committee via these links Page 1 of 2, Page 2 of 2