Tomorrow’s decision postponed

The Chair of Brent’s planning committee has asked for the decision on Affordable housing at 110 Walm Lane to be pulled from the agenda of tomorrow’s meeting. We welcome this decision because as you can see form earlier blog posts we were very concerned that local residents had not been properly informed or consulted. Key information was missing and there was insufficient detail in the few papers which supported this key concession.

It is incredible that this campaign was not formally notified (let alone consulted) on this matter (in fact we technically still haven’t been!)

Once again, intervention has been required to stop an Officer recommendation that would undermine The Queensbury and the forthcoming appeal, and this has only happened because of only complaints from us on behalf of residents.

No doubt the committee will discuss the matter at a future meeting. Hopefully, in the meantime, a proper consultation will take place and all papers relating to it will be in the public domain, long before the meeting, to enable local people to give their views and members to take an informed decision.

That said, our position is clear: a decision on the level of affordable housing can only be taken in the context of the whole scheme and what was offered falls woefully short of Brent’s own policies.

Admin error or a secretive deal? You decide.

An inquiry to decide the future of The Queensbury will take place in January. One of the three main areas the inquiry will cover is affordable housing in the new development (proposals are 19% affordable units against a Brent policy of 50%). Brent council wrote to 1200 local people to tell them about the inquiry.

On Wednesday of this week Brent’s planning committee is asked by the council’s planning department to quietly accept two more “affordable” flats than were previously proposed. If this is accepted by the committee on Wednesday it will not be discussed at the inquiry. Brent has only written to 172 people and many, like this campaign, were not notified because of an administrative error by Brent’s planning department.

We have asked Brent council to postpone this item, to enable local residents to be fully involved in it. So far, they have refused.

We believe all those notified of the inquiry should be notified that Brent and the developer have cooked up a plan to quietly remove affordable housing from the agenda. We have seen the background papers and there is no convincing case to accept this “concession.”

You have to look hard to find this decision – tucked away on page 31 as a special item of this agenda.

The Queensbury deserves better than this. Contact your local councillor and ben.martin@brent.gov.uk and tell them so.

Fairview shenanigans over affordable housing

The lack of Affordable Housing was one of the four reasons Brent council gave for refusing permission for demolition of The Queensbury. The developer has appealed and we are set for a marathon 5 day inquiry in January (originally 3 days but the developer has lobbied for more).

Over the summer the council and the developer have apparently been horse trading over the amount of affordable housing and the council’s planning committee have been asked to take a decision on an increased ‘offer’ of an extra two units. They want this to be accepted so it is not mentioned at the inquiry in January. Is that acceptable?

We think people who responded to the planning application should have been informed about this decision, which will be taken on 17th September, but they haven’t. It feels as though the developer is trying to stop this being discussed in detail at the appeal and Brent officers seem to be agreeing with them.

Two more units will mean 22.6% is now “affordable” rather than 18.9%. Brent’s policy is for 50%. The revised offer is subjective because it certainly fails to meet Brent’s policy expectations. We believe that we should be allowed a voice in that debate.

We are mystified as to why officers are recommending this amendment be accepted and why they have not provided any opportunity in the council papers for people to respond.

We encourage you to write to the officer named in the report ben.martin@brent.gov.uk with your views. The full meeting agenda can be found here