Responses Required – two more appeals!

Off we go again. This sorry saga makes Brexit look straightforward.

Comments from residents to the government planning inspector are required by 8th October. This is relating to the two schemes kicked out by Brent Council over the summer.

These will be decided by the government’s planning inspectorate on a date yet to be announced, likely to be early 2020.

Confused? You are forgiven. The Appeal that took place in August was the first Redbourne scheme and a decision will be published at the end of November. Timescales laid out in law means the developer cannot wait for that decision before appealing these two schemes (which are 99% the same and both see the existing building demolished).

Reasons to object to these two remain the same.

Brent refused permission because the loss of the current building outweighs the benefit of what is proposed, which at six storeys is too big for the location and contains a metal roof.

The flats proposed will have a permanent impact on the Mapesbury conservation area.

Yes there is a pub proposed in the new building (which has been likened to a railway station waiting room or airport lounge) and without guarantees, we point to the fact that Brent has lost 40% of its pubs since 2001. Almost all of these have been converted to flats and many closures promised new pubs as part of development. We cannot find  one single example where this has worked successfully.

Scheme A

Scheme A

Scheme B

Scheme B

Day 4 at the Public Inquiry

Alexander_cuts_the_Gordian_Knot

Day 4 was the last day and brought Busy Rascals to the Inquiry.

A local legend in her community, Sharmine gave a history of how and why she sought to bring classes and courses to Willesden, a place void of spaces compared to Kensals, Queens Park and places nearby. Firstly at the Queensbury Deli (remember that) then latterly at The Queensbury Pub, Sharmine soon established what is clearly an asset to Willesden and its surrounds.

Busy Rascals told of a few meetings with the developer, but no clear plans in writing. Fairview at least had formal paperwork at the last Inquiry, commitments to pay for an interim space and clearer ideas how the space would work.

Then a significant breakthrough, the developer has offered to pay for an interim space (loaded with reasonable, best endevours etc). No idea where that might be, but this commitment is a huge step forward if the appeal is successful.

What followed was two hours of whether Brent is set to meet its obligations on house building. Playgrounds, two schools and a community centre are slated for blocks of residential in the near future. No wonder our infrastructure is stretched.

And finally, once the Inspector returned from a visit to look at 110 Walm Lane, closing statements firstly from us, then Brent, then Redbourne’s QC.

We and Brent put a clear case: a six storey plus box, bulldozing conservation and local heritage, or not?

Safe to say Redbourne’s QC was predictably vexed at our very existence, using phrases of Vigorously Resisted; Vocal and Influential; Lobby hard against change; Paranoia; Distrust. He provided a biased critique of our website and presented the one image of Fairview’s scheme as unbalanced (against the 28 of the appalling appeal schemes which he seemingly did not find whilst boosting our traffic count on the site).

We are not phased. It is disappointing that a QC turns on the community in this way but we are factually correct in claiming that Brent has a dire record of protecting its pubs, losing 40% of them since The Queensbury opened. Many schemes promise a pub and they just do not materialise.

If this was not true we would have been called out on this by the QC days ago.

But it is true, hence our scrutiny and hence the pathetic and desperate comments that we somehow do not reflect community feeling. Willesden deserves better than this.

The final words went to Redbourne’s QC, asking the Inspector to cut the Gordian knot and allow this appeal. This is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (untying an impossibly-tangled knot) solved easily by finding an approach to the problem that renders the perceived constraints of the problem moot (“cutting the Gordian knot”). Unfortunately (for Redbourne) the knot is the hideous design which isn’t too Gordian and pretty easily solved – build around The Queensbury, don’t demolish it.

Now we await the Inspector’s report and decision. He is an immensely experienced and fair Inspector so whatever the outcome, we are confident that we have put our best foot forward to save The Queensbury in the short and long term.