Campaign update 19th December 2012

After a great effort from campaign supporters over 300 formal objections have been lodged with Brent Council and there are over 2000 petition signatures, showing just how much the community cares about keeping a pub and community space at 110 Walm Lane. At our stall outside Sainsbury’s on Saturday we collected 181 signatures in just 3 hours – that’s 8 times the number of comments that Fairview got in their so called consultation! We’ve also received great support from other groups in Brent as well as from from the London Pubs Group and CAMRA.

We expect the planning application to be discussed at Brent’s Planning Committee meeting on 16th January. We will make sure that the meeting is aware how unpopular the proposals are so watch this space for details.

In the meantime, if you or your friends and neighbours haven’t yet signed the petition you can use this link and it’s still possible to submit an objection and to write your councillor to let them know how you feel. There’s still time but not much – so be quick!

New window posters – show your street that you care about The Queensbury

We have updated the campaign materials section of the website and we have new window posters for downloading.

The first features one of The Queensbury’s youngest users – little Ray – who will definitely spit his dummy out if his community space is taken away.

The second poster shows quite starkly what we are faced with if the planning application is approved – a monstrous tower block replacing a lovely old Arts and Crafts building.

Both posters can be downloaded in either A3 or A4 sizes, take your pick and put one in your window – show your street that you care about the Queensbury.

Click here to go to the campaign materials page to download the posters.

An open letter to Fairview Homes

On the day after Brent Council’s statutory consultation to build a 10 storey tower block closed, the Save The Queensbury group calls upon Fairview Homes to withdraw its applications to demolish the pub and draw up a scheme that builds around the community’s resources, not on top of them.

It is clear from 1500 signatures on the community’s paper petition and a further 500 on Brent’s own website, that local people see a great social value in The Queensbury as a community amenity, a needed asset and an architecturally appreciated building.

It is clear that Councillors have got the message, they are concerned about the loss of The Queensbury on those who use it and will take the right decision on behalf of their residents.

It is abundantly clear that Fairview’s application underestimated the public’s views and that its own consultations were fell woefully short, to the point of being fundamentally flawed both in their design and execution.

The statutory process has at least highlighted the clarity of Brent’s own policies in the protection of this site and of the Mapesbury conservation area. It has highlighted the national planning precedents that have been set to protect such valued assets. It has made clear that London’s own policies protect the demolition of the building, which is in a conservation area and also protects community amenities in neighbourhoods such as The Queensbury.

 The community now looks forward to a scheme that is more befitting of the conservation area, protects The Queensbury, is more sympathetic of local needs and one that builds around the community’s resources, not on top of them.

Save The Queensbury Group.

Lies, damned lies and Fairview’s artist impressions

Come to Walm Lane where Fairview Homes will ensure the sun always shines and there are community spaces and cafes galore.

No, not quite true, but you might be forgiven for believing it if you’ve viewed Fairview’s Design Statement or artist impressions for the tower block that they propose will replace the Queensbury.

On these artist impressions of the tower block, just to the right of the picture, we can clearly see something which appears to be a cafe or community space. The outdoor tables and chairs evoke a sunny Mediterranean piazza where residents can mingle and socialise in the tropical sunshine that a 10 storey tower block will bring.

But wait. These buildings are currently occupied by a dry cleaner and a key cutter. Have they sold their land to Fairview too and are their premises included as part of the development? A quick check of the planning application and a word with the owner of the key cutting business reveals no such thing. It’s all part of the fiction that comprises Fairview’s thoroughly dishonest artist’s impression. In fact, the owner of the key cutting business was most shocked to hear of the pictures which have erased his business from the street.

Stalin would have been proud.

Fairview’s artist impression – where tower blocks never cast dark shadows and surrounding businesses are miraculously transformed

 

Councillors are not postal workers – demand more!

Since we began lobbying councillors about the Queensbury development we have had several residents report that councillors’ responses have been to the effect of ‘I will forward your views to the planning department’ or, worse, ‘I note your concerns’. This is simply not good enough. Many of us who have written to our councillors have already submitted a formal objection to the the plans. We don’t need our councillors to merely deliver post to the planning department, we need them to stand up for their residents and take a view themselves.

Yes, as councillors they are required to forward your views to relevant departments, but they are also required to represent residents’ interests. On an issue that is generating so much community feeling, sitting on the fence and passing the buck is simply unacceptable. If you get such an anodyne response from your councillor, write back and demand more. And let us know if their response improves.

Using planning law to protect pubs

Dale Ingram is a planning consultant and Pubs Protection Adviser for CAMRA London Region. She has submitted a comprehensive objection to the Queensbury development here and writes below on how other pubs have been successfully saved from closure

In 2010, pub closures peaked at 52 per week. It fell back to 12 per week during 2011 but has risen this year to 18 per week (CAMRA’s statistics). In January 2012 Fleuret’s, the specialist pubs property agents, revealed that for the first time more than half of pub premises sold were going to other uses, as conversions or demolitions for residential schemes, or for offices, restaurants and retail.

During 2010, central government, through the planning system and new legislation, provided two key protections for pubs. The first is Para 70 (P70) of the National Planning Policy Framework, and the second is the provision in the Localism Act for Registers of Community Assets. P70 has been used on a dozen occasions since it came into force at the end of March to refuse consent or dismiss appeals for pub loss proposals. These include the Lark in the Park, Islington, the Carpenters Arms in Cambridge, the Cross Keys in Chelsea and Yew Tree, Matlock.

The Community Assets Regulations becme effective as recently as September, and Asset Registers are still very much in their infancy. However, campaigners at the Ivy House in Peckham not only succeeded in getting their beautiful 1930s pub listed at Grade II (with CAMRA’s help) but were the very first community group nationally to succeed in having their pub recorded formally by their council, Southwark, as an Asset of Community Value.

The process of nomination and registration is relatively straightforward, and the chief benefit is that if Registered premises are to be sold, they must be offered first to the nominating community group, who then have about 7 months to indicate an interest and make a bid. CAMRA can provide advice on how to do this.

Many local authorities are now implementing pubs protection policies in their local plans to make them consistent with the NPPF. Ask Brent what they are doing about this and whether there are other policies already in place relating to community facilities that you might use to defend the Queensbury.

Keep up the pressure. Make sure your local councillors, MP and planning department know that you haven’t given up, and try to keep the flow of objections going. Encourage campaign supporters to send a copy of their objection to their local councillor and MP.

Campaign update: 2nd December 2012

We had some new people attend the campaign meeting on the 27th November but lots of apologies due to the day and time. We will consider the timing and day of future meetings – it’s difficult to please everyone but please let us know which days of the week work best for you and whether 7pm is too early.

We had a brief update on the incredible progress made since the first meeting:

  • We have over 500 signatures on our e-petition making it the fourth most popular e-petition ever lodged on Brent’s website. The paper petition is running into thousands.
  • We have distributed over 4,000 leaflets. The leaflets are doing their work and more formal objections are being logged (almost 300 to date). Although this is phenomenal response to a planning application it’s still pretty obvious that many people are still unaware, especially those who don’t use the tube exit where the petitioners have been.
  • We have made contact with and received support from several local groups. In particular, from the Keep Willesden Green group, who are campaigning against the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library, Brent Fightback who oppose cuts to local services and the Willesden Green Town Team who are working to regenerate the area.
  • More Councillors have mentioned the development but no more have declared their objections, yet.
  • No news on the date for a decision. Brent’s planning website says that no decision will be made before 8th December but this is a little misleading. The Planning Committee meeting is not likely to be until the new year. Once we know the exact date rest assured that EVERYONE will know about it!

Points of action

Petitioning and leafleting

  • We will have a stand outside the big Sainsburys on Saturday 15th December to collect signatures and distribute leaflets, and also to raise some funds for the campaign. Can you spare just an hour to help sometime between 11am and 2pm? It might be cold but we’ll be full of festive spirit and you’ll be helping a great cause! Drop us a note here to let us know what time you can do.
  • The Busy Rascals Winter fare is on Tuesday morning (4th December) at The Queensbury so please pop along if you can. We do have a Save The Queensbury stand with leaflets and the petition to sign.
  • Please think about any other community events that you know are coming up and whether we distribute leaflets and petitions.
  • We will have a big push on leafleting in the new year, as soon as we have a date for the Planning Committee. We will be organising people to go out in pairs to cover key streets. Look out for some updates in early January about this.

Fundraising
We are running out of leaflets and we need cash to print some more. so please think about fundraising ideas. Do you know of any events where we could shake a bucket? Or any local artists/performers/DJs/musicians who would do a fundraiser? All ideas gratefully received.

Lobbying
Please continue to lobby your councillors. Some councillors have told us that although they will not take an individual view themselves they will pass on any comments they receive to the Planning Department. It is worth contacting your councillor even if you don’t like them or their politics! You can find out how to do so here.

In the meantime
Please continue with the great work, telling your friends and neighbours, ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get in touch with feedback, ideas and offers of support. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever…