Fairview representatives, STQ, Busy Rascals and the local NCT branch volunteers met at the Queensbury pub on 18 March 2013. Below is a brief summary. You can find the full minutes here.
1. Background to the STQ group and our objections
Fairview’s rep came to listen, understand and identify common ground and areas where Fairview may be able to address our concerns. We explained our objection: the principle of change of use of the pub; loss of amenity; loss of community use; and conservation area concerns. We noted that almost all comments on Brent’s site are objections, from local people in NW2 and NW10.
2. Is a pub viable at this location / are the owners looking to cash in?
- We met Fairview now specifically due to the viability issue, because Fairview’s reps had met with CamRA, NW2RA and with MapRA and a theme is that the owners of the pub want to leave. We explained that the state of the pub company’s finances is not our business, but that the viability of a pub on this location is.
- We asked specifically where this information came from – that the pub is not viable. Fairview said that Companies House information was used, but we challenged this: we too have Companies House information but it does not detail viability. We asked that, other than Companies House information whether Fairview had anything else leading them to assert that a pub is not viable, such as a profit and loss account? Fairview provided no further detail, but did at least offer to get back to us.
3. Busy Rascals / NCT community use
We clarified which charities use The Queensbury and also what the NCT does. Fairview said they knew very little of this, so we explained the suitability of the venue and why just a replacement “empty space” would not be a substitute. BR offered for Fairview to come and observe a class for themselves. We talked about the lack of alternatives for parents in the area – the “nearest” provision at Willesden Library children’s centre, now closed.
4. Lack of consultation
- Fairview confirmed that BR/NCT were not consulted on the plans. We referred to a statement that the community is in favour of this development, in the planning application. We referenced people in the group who took part in the consultation event(s) last year who feel their views were not represented at all.
- We talked about the 22 comments cited in Fairview’s consultation (which have not been published). Fairview suggested there are data protection reasons why those comments cannot be shared with us, but will check and report back.
- We suggested that if there are 22 comments that are used to substantiate the demolition of the building in a conversation area, but these cannot be released, then the process is fundamentally flawed.
- We asked whether the consultation(s) last year with MapRA asked the question about the change of use of the building and the loss of a pub? Fairview confirmed it did not. MapRA have been working with Fairview from early on but only contributed on design matters, not principle of use.
Fairview’s rep previously emailed us about potential of an alternative pub, on site or off site. We asked about these alternatives but no further details were provided.
- Have the plans changed? Fairview would be giving an update at a meeting with MapRA on Thursday but the changes were at the request of Brent’s Head of Planning, to incorporate non residential use on the ground floor. We were asked whether we would enter discussions over use of the ground floor in a revised scheme. We declined – is this enforceable by planners and how can a commercial operator guarantee BR use of the space created through the planning process?
6. Next Steps
Should we meet again? We said we are open to meeting but given Fairview’s statements about community support, some are reluctant. We may decide to just respond to the absolute “knowns” via the planning application rather than “vague” proposals. We pointed out that it is not our role to reach agreement, nor for residents associations to broker solutions, but for Fairview to draw up a plan and submit this to the council. The council then consults and we will be involved in that process.
We summarised that there is nothing that we can take back to the wider group from our meeting – no revised plan, no timescales, nothing other than the existing applications which we have already responded to. GA agreed that there is not. Fairview promised to at least give some categorical answers to the questions and issues raised in the meeting.