A pub is proposed, why are we still objecting?

Just a brief update following Fairview Homes’ revised planning application to demolish The Queensbury pub. Comments will be taken until mid January so please register your views with the council (you can use this link).

It is clear from responses to Brent, comments to our group and via the local residents associations that in spite of revising their plans to potentially include a pub, what is proposed by Fairview remains deeply unpopular. Why?

1. When is a pub not a pub?

Fairview have applied for A3 and A4 use classes on the ground floor of the revised development and in spite of the current pub operators being involved in its layout there is no guarantee that a pub will remain on site. We simply do not trust Fairview Homes to deliver (see elsewhere on this site for reasons why).

An A3 use is a cafe – like Costa, Nest and the deli down the road. So whilst A3 remains on the plan there is the risk that the developer will downgrade a pub (A4) to a cafe (A3). No further permission is required to do this. A pub can serve coffee and cake but a cafe cannot serve beer and spirits – get the point? Plus… the pub (not the entire building) is purely A4 and has be accepted by Brent Council as an “Asset of Community Value”. We believe that demolishing it (and not replacing it with a direct A4 substitute) is wrong.

2. Conservation

Anyone looking for a computer generated image of the development taken within the Mapesbury conservation area will be disappointed. We can’t find any, which leads us to conclude that the protected vistas and cherished preservation of Mapesbury will be over-shadowed by the tallest building for miles. Brent declared this as a conservation area so any replacement building should at least try to fit in. This one stands out.

3. It’s just too high

Height is a major concern. Even those who welcome a pub / cafe / wine bar / community space still recoil at the sheer height of the proposed tower. It dwarfs the local church spire (the Vicar of which is also opposed), stands above Erin Court (the block over Sainsburys) and is almost twice that of its next door neighbour.

4. Community use

Having spent much of 2013 declaring that Busy Rascals, NCT and FieldtoFork were all operating without permission from the pub, the community services statement submitted goes even further and declares this activity as “unlawful”.

We maintain that a modern pub has to diversify to survive and The Queensbury has done an excellent job in doing just that during very difficult economic times. The current pub operators should be applauded for welcoming these groups under its roof. Again, how can Fairview Homes be trusted to deliver on a space that works for the community and not just one that works for them, commercially?

Happy New Year?

All in all, some on our group accept that a development can take place on the site but not at all costs. Others are heartened that the current pub operators are involved but are sceptical. Some people just want to see the building saved. What we all agree on is that we simply have no confidence or evidence that what is proposed is anywhere near an acceptable replacement for The Queensbury and the existing building.

It’s official – The Queensbury IS an Asset of Community Value!

And so, eventually, our persistence to have The Queensbury pub recognised as an Asset of Community Value has paid off. Brent Council finally confirmed today to accept the pub on their list, at the third time of asking. It joins Kensal Rise library as the only two buildings in Brent to be nominated and accepted as providing a significant role in their communities. Hearty thanks to the NW2 Residents Association for fronting the nomination on behalf of the Save The Queensbury campaign and to the pub for being so much a part of our community.

Why is this 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. 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 considers the plans for The Queensbury early next year. Kensal Rise library set the precedent when plans for development were considered and there are other examples across the country where ACV status has played a major role in the planning process.

Plans have been submitted to demolish the pub. Sadly, Brent Council chose to decline our request to wait before formally consulting on the plans and went ahead regardless. We will now write to planners, asking them to send out further letters to consultees, noting the building’s status and extend the consultation period accordingly.

Meanwhile, ensure you mention the community asset status when you object to the current planning application.