The Save The Queensbury group is very disappointed that the pub has not been added to Brent Council’s list of Assets of Community Value. Our nomination (via the NW2 Residents Association) was refused following a 15 page letter from the Fairview Homes law firm to Brent Council and we are now considering whether to try for a third time.
We are disappointed that Brent Council did not recognise and agree that the site of the pub has been an important resource in our community since 1925. The regulations on ACVs ask whether a property has community use currently or at any time in the recent past. We were confident that because the building has been a social club between 1925-2012 and a pub since 2000 it would reasonably meet that criteria. After all many pubs already listed elsewhere are actually closed, often by developers who want to build flats. This is precisely why these regulations were introduced.
We are also disappointed that Brent Council did not agree that the Busy Rascals activities for toddlers and the National Childbirth Trust meetings for parents both reflect the pub’s place in the community. Fairview argued that this is not a normal use of a pub, claiming it actually contravened the pub’s lease and sought to discount it for ACV purposes. Brent council seem to agree. Let’s remember that Fairview have strenuously and persistently sought to undermine Busy Rascals and the pub, at every turn.
Aside from current use, there is also a test as to the future use of a building over the next five years. We argued that the pub has a lease until 2017 so it’s a no-brainer? We also stated that there is no permission for anything other than community / social club / pub use. Plus there are no current plans before the council to change this. But, again, Brent listened to Fairview Homes who said that they have no intention of opening the building for community use and every intention of demolishing it. As far as we can tell there is nothing in regulations about a landowner’s intention and desire, otherwise surely no building would be listed if an owner could simply say they wanted to demolish it?
We put a lot into our nominations. We took advice and we looked at other successful nominations of pubs and other buildings. What we got in return was a convoluted process which heavily favoured Fairview Homes (they had two weeks to respond to our nomination and we were afforded two days). We are a small, voluntary group without the expertise and resource of a multinational law firm. Yet we did address Fairview’s points and were confident that our nomination met the criteria and Brent had a duty to list it.
So what next?
This is a small chapter in a battle to save both The Queensbury pub and the activities of Busy Rascals by preserving a landmark building in a conservation area. But we have little expertise, limited resource, not much local Councillor support and a developer with a lot of money at stake and a huge legal resource to lobby and bully the council.
It really is an uphill struggle, so we’re taking stock and considering our next moves, but we’re certainly not giving up in our fight to save The Queensbury.