31 Dec 2018

January 3rd (5pm) deadline for comments on Brent's new Local Plan

From Martin Francis (Brent Green Party)

The consultation  on Brent's new Local Plan ends at 5pm on Thursday January 3rd so there isn't long to get your response in. Full details can be found HERE.

I will be putting aside a certain cynicism about the Local Plan, based on how often planners ignnore the principles set out in the current one,  and hope that many other residents will do the same. The Plan will establish the context of planning decisions and thus the nature of our area for years to come - at the very least we should establish a strong demand for the retention and enhancement of green spaces.

The borough has been split into 7 'Places' and an initial weakness appears to be that Wembley is split rather confusingly between Central Place (Wembley Park) and South West Place (Wembley Central). One would think that the relationship between the two parts of Wembley was crucial in terms of roads, bus and railway transport as well as offices and retail ands thus shold be treated as one place. The South East Place covers a large and mixed area.

Respondents can choose between responding to the details for a particular place (The South East Place questionnaire is below as an example) or the overall plan.

The Spring 2018 consultation indicated a split between the general public,  and developers and what were referred to as 'professionals'.  This was particularly evident over high rise flats and the amount of really affordable housing in new developments:

Question 15: Solutions to meeting growth challenges, e.g. tall buildings, lower rise buildings but compromise on standards, or rely on character to inform height/density.
.        2.32  Tall buildings – answers focussed on the need to meet targets with potential to contribute to townscape, those not in favour identified them as eyesores, changing character and perceptions of safety and unlikely to provide affordable housing with criticism of Wembley Park design quality.

.        2.33  Lower buildings/ compromise standards – there was little support for compromising standards which was considered likely to adversely impact on quality of life/ mental health.

.        2.34  Take account of existing character – this was supported the most but most people interpreted this as meaning no tall buildings.

How this is addressed in the Preferred Options Local Plan

2.35    The Plan principally take account of existing character, but recognises that in accordance with London Plan that a positive strategy and sites will have to be identified for taller buildings. The Local Plan focuses on providing ‘clusters’ of tall and increased height, whilst removing opportunity for isolated tall buildings. Lower scale, but taller buildings than exist are identified for intensification corridors and town centres.

Question 16: Where do you consider are the most appropriate or inappropriate areas for tall buildings and why?

2.36    The responses to this part were limited, consistent with the general antipathy towards these types of buildings.

How this is addressed in the Preferred Options Local Plan

2.37    The approach taken forward is to cluster tall buildings in highest Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) areas and those areas where the Tall Buildings Strategy points to such opportunities as part of a positive plan-led strategy.

Question 19: Should higher density housing in suburban areas with greater public transport accessibility be through: conversion/ extensions to existing buildings; infill in spaces between buildings; comprehensive redevelopment of sites, or other?

2.42 Limited number of responses – positive about reuse of buildings and comprehensive redevelopment, but negative about infill.

Question 23: Appropriate affordable housing target.

2.50    From the general public there was more support for the 50% target, although many questioned the affordability of affordable homes provided. The professionals considered 50% too high and pointed to the 35% target set by the Mayor as a recognition of this, as long as viability could still be assessed where lower proposed.

How this is addressed in the Preferred Options Local Plan

2.51    The Plan is consistent with the Mayor’s approach of a strategic 50% target but with a viability threshold of 35% approach. Tenures will be focussed on rented products that even at their maximum are accessible to those on benefits.

Question 24: Greater flexibility in relation to on-site affordable housing provision?

2.52    The general public were against this flexibility as it was likely to polarise communities, developers sought greater flexibility.
Question 25: Affordable Housing Tenure Split?
2.54    The majority of respondents considered that there needed to be a mix, with products genuinely affordable and also those that catered for those working/ wanting to buy. Developers wanted flexibility/ pragmatism on a site by site basis.

How this is addressed in the Preferred Options Local Plan

2.55    Taking account of the needs and viability assessment work a preferred local mix that maximises London affordable/social rent/affordable rented products is prioritised (70%) as a proportion of the affordable housing but also seek a minimum 30% intermediate (shared ownership/ London Living Rent).
Here is the link to the various 'Place' proposals and questionnaires: (see map above to locate your 'Place')
Full details and on-line survey HERE
Alternatively, comments can be submitted by email to or by post to Paul Lewin, Team Leader Planning Policy, Brent Council, Engineers’ Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ, setting out clearly the page number, paragraph, policy, figure or image the comment relates to.

13 Dec 2018

bikes for hire? transport of the future or garbage of the future?

Electric hire bikes have just been introduced in Brent and there are some anxieties about their collection after use (see  This non electric hire bike has been in the street next to my house for about three weeks.

I looked up Lime E the electric bike and scooter hire firm that now operates in Brent and already operates in some US and NZ cities, in the former they seem to operate a freelance collection scheme paying individuals per bike or scooter for collection  in private vehicles and to recharge them and put them back in a location where they can be hired again. Does such a scheme make the collection of this bike from a relatively far flung location uneconomic? And would it lead to more discarded hire bikes on the streets?