10 Mar 2021

Quintain's revision to Wembley Park's North East Lands consent approved by Brent Planning Committee

Despite the large number of residents' objections to Quintain's revisions to its consented plans for the North East Lands section of the huge Wembley Park development, there were no questions for a resident of Marathon House after he had spoken about its impact on the daylight and skylines of residents' flats. He claimed that the application demonstrated no benefits compared with the original consent. Furthermore, he suggested that by breaking down applications into small bite size chunks  developers masked the larger impact on the area.

The revisions increase the height and density of the development but move some boundary lines.

Having no questions the Committee moved on to the developer's agent who basically came out with rather a lot of what appeared to me to be greenwash.  He claimed that the loss of light to residents of Marathon House was neglible and their balconies already reduced light and gave the impression of a larger loss of light than was otherwise the case.

An officer said that the benefits of the scheme was more open space, a larger capacity park (they haven't increased the size but ditched the lake and replaced with a couple of ponds), an attractive public realm with trees along Rutherford Way and making it a car free development.


 Cross section of Rutherford Way

Officers argued that changes to the scheme would break up a potential 'canyon' on Rutherford Way between Marathon House (tower on right) and Unite Students on one side, and the lower Quintain development on the other.  The officers' report repeated the claim that loss of light did not matter in student accommodation as it was transitory. They argued that BRE guidelines allow for special situations in urban environments and did not have to be strictly applied. They spoke about 'mirror massing' when buildings on one side of the road mirror that of the other side. The implication was that this was avoided here.

Officers echoed the agent's view that the Marathon House balconies meant more loss of light than would be the case if they were not there. They said that the Quintain blocks were set back and thus further from the middle of the road than Marathon House.

Cllr Maurice pressed on the loss of light,   due to Covid more people would be working from home and there most of the time and loss of light could affect their mental health. An officer responded that the impact would be negligible on Marathon House and Unite Students.

Cllr Kennelly asked about the use of rooftop space and was told that although there was no detail yet it would be provided for amenity and bio-diversity to provide recreational and ecological benefit.  The officer recognised that that the area was 'somewhat of a concrete jungle' and has been so for almost 100 years since the British Empire Exhibition and it would be nice to reintroduce the biodiversity that had been there before the BEE (watch out for cows on the roof!)

Cllr Saqib Butt said that he could not see any additional benefit compared with the oriiginally consented scheme, there were no additional housing units and he could only see loss to  residents in the neighbouring blocks.  Officers again pointed to trees on Rutherford Way and more space in the park due to the reduction in the size of the lake.

Cllr Kennelly said that keyworkers needed housing and often needed a car for work.  Making this a car free development would exclude them. Lead officer David Glover said that there was a recent reduction in demand for parking and that people were unwilling to buy parking spaces. The development may not be suitable for such keyworkers and the Council recognised that there was a need for a range of different housing to cater for differing needs that would be open to keyworkers. Wembley Park was an ideal site for car free development being so close to Wembley Park station and other public transport with a very high PTAL rating. Kennelly expressed concern that increasingly key workers have to move out of the area and  travel in to work. They needed access to centrally located housing. An officer said that Quintain recognised the need to provide some central parking for those in car free developments such as Rutherford Way.

Lead officer David Glover, discussing the impact on Marathon House residents said that there could not be a 'who comes first has the final say.' system/  Merely because their development went up first occupants could not then decide what was built opposite them - such a polcy would tie the hands of developers and planners.  The revisions had an 'acceptable' impact on surrounding properties.




Donate now to help Emma Wallace fight her campaign for the London Assembly and a greener, cleaner, fairer future for us all

 Brent and Harrow Green Parties have launched a Crowdfunder to help Emma Wallace, our candidate in the GLA election, in her campaign. DONATE HERE

This election is held under a fair voting system so every vote counts, which makes it one of the most important election campaigns the Greens can fight.  

Greens have a great record of delivering on the London Assembly.  From getting the Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency to winning £45 million worth of funding for youth clubs.  Sian Berry and Caroline Russell, our two Green Party London Assembly members, get stuff done and we can get more Greens in the Assembly to do more!

We just need your support and hopefully your donations, because we are committed to using our platform in the Assembly to demand real change.  

We will fight for action on the climate emergency so we can create the greenest city in the world.

We have a clear plan to keep London moving. We’ll move past polluting cars and invest in the future of travel public transport, walking and cycling.

And we will bring fresh thinking to housing, aiming to make sure no one is struggling to put a roof over their head.  Every donation to this Crowdfunder is about reaching voters locally.    

In Brent and Harrow we need to reach and win over as many residents as possible.  Your donation will help us reach Londoners on social media, via the post and over the phone. 

We can’t rely on billionaires and corporate donors like the other parties.  We are a grassroots movement and your donations can help get our message through and win the support we need. 

Thank you so much,

Emma Wallace, GLA Brent & Harrow Candidate


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8 Mar 2021

Jonathan Neale's Fight the Fire from The Ecologist for free now.


Fight The Fire Book Cover


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Download Jonathan Neale's Fight the Fire from The Ecologist for free now.





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We would like to thank our readers for donating £1,000 to cover some of the costs of publishing and promoting this book.

hard copy paperback from resistance books

5 Mar 2021

The Green Party Trade Union group supports the protests of health workers’ Unions against the derisory 1% pay offer.


The 1% pay rise currently offered to health workers is correctly being described by Union leaders as ‘a kick in the teeth’ and ‘an insult’. These workers have worked often far beyond their contracted duties to combat the pandemic and defend the health of people throughout Britain. This has sometimes included risking and sacrificing their lives. If the government can award lucrative contracts to ministerial cronies, it can afford a decent pay award for health workers. The Green Party Trade Union group supports the protests of health workers’ Unions against the derisory 1% pay offer.

1 Mar 2021

Some fresh Green thinking on strengthening local government with a new, fairer funding system

This is the first of a series of guest posts by Emma Wallance, Brent  & Harrow Green Party GLA candidate.

Harrow Council have announced that they are increasing the 2021/22 council tax by the maximum legal limit amount allowed to 4.99%.  This means that the council has increased Harrow’s council tax rates by their maximum amount year on year, for the last ten years.  In 2011/12 the average council tax rate in Harrow for band D (there are 8 bands, A-H) was £1186.55, in comparison to this year’s 2020/21 rate of £1522.72 for a band D property  LINK .  That is a £336.17 or +28.33% increase in ten years.  In comparison, neighbouring boroughs Ealing and Brent current council tax rates for 2020/21 band D properties are £1239.15 and £1312.74 respectively.  If we look London wide, Harrow residents are paying the third highest council tax out of the 32 London boroughs, with only Kingston and Richmond charging more.  In addition, Sadiq Khan has announced an increase to the Greater London Authority (GLA) council tax precept by 1.99%, or £363.66 for an average Band D property LINK .  This tax is collected by the 32 London councils on behalf of the GLA and consequently means that Harrow’s Council Tax will see a total overall increase of 5.9% next year.


This huge increase in council tax next year will come as a devastating blow to Harrow residents, many of whom are struggling with job losses and the increased pressures brought on by the Covid19 pandemic.  


Withdrawal of Central Government Funding


The increase in council tax must be seen in relation to the withdrawal of central government funding to local authorities that the Conservative government have presided over for the last ten years, reducing funding support in London by £4 billion   LINK  .  Evidence shows that a decade of imposed austerity from central government has resulted in core funding to local authorities being cut by 63% in real terms  LINK . Harrow Council was already one of the lowest funded councils in both London and nationally, with funding being reduced from £52.1 million to £1.6 million in the last ten years – a reduction of 97%  LINK .


This decimation in central government funding has left the current Labour administration in Harrow council in an untenable situation, having to bridge next year’s funding gap by almost £31 million LINK .  This has resulted in ever increasing costs being pushed on to local residents, whilst the council provide fewer and fewer services.  As Councillor Adam Swersky, responsible for finance at Harrow Council has stated, council tax has effectively become a ‘national stealth tax’ “with the Government shifting responsibility to local authorities to compensate for a lack of financial support.” LINK      

Lost Local Public Services


We have seen savage cuts to our public services in Harrow over the last ten years, from housing, education, public health, as well as both environmental and community services.  Street cleaning has seen repeated cutbacks, with, for example £172 000 cut from its budget in 2014, reducing the frequency of our street cleaning  LINK .  The Council’s waste collection services have also diminished over the last ten years, seeing in 2015 the introduction of the very unpopular £75 garden waste charge, a service that used to be included in our council tax.  It has since been revealed as one of the highest garden waste charges in England LINK    This lack of investment in street cleaning and waste services has continued for many years, with the now infamous 2017 footage, capturing rats swarming around bin bags in a Harrow car park LINK


We have also seen the closure of four of our ten public libraries in 2015 (the Bob Lawrence, Hatch End, North Harrow and Rayners Lane libraries), cutting a local service that provided a lifeline to many who are isolated or in need of library services.  In 2018, our two local Harrow MPs debated the issue in Parliament, with Harrow West’s Labour MP Gareth Thomas highlighting the unrelenting cuts and calling for the council to be “better funded”.  Mr Thomas highlighted the rise in violent crime in the borough and how youth services had been cut by more than 75% since 2010.  Conservative Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, responded by accusing the council of not being business friendly enough and needing to work together to apply for additional grants. LINK


The Impact of Demographic Changes and Covid


The reduction in central government funding, can also be seen in relation to a demographic change in London over the last ten years, with Harrow’s population increasing by 7.6%  LINK . The increase in residents, coupled with an aging population, has resulted in ever greater pressures being placed on our local services.  This can be seen most acutely on our social care services, where demand has increased across all age groups.  Social care is an area which must be ring fenced by 3% in the councils’ budgets every year, with the council this year applying for an additional social care grant to help with the increased pressures on brought on by COVID-19.  Indeed, the unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic has placed a huge strain on council budgets, with increased demand on an array of services LINK  .  Whilst the Tory government assured councils’ that they should do ‘whatever it takes’ to support residents through the pandemic, promising ‘Emergency Funding’ to councils, this has not been fully realised and the amounts have not been enough to cover all costs incurred.  As a result, there is now an even bigger funding shortfall than there was before the pandemic started  LINK  .


Harrow Council consequently is in a situation of ongoing funding reduction from central government, changes in demographics and the resultant increased pressure on services, whilst also dealing with the impacts of Covid.  This is tragically resulting in an even bigger reduction in the services provided by the council at a time when we need them more than ever.  


The Green Party’s Vision for the Future


The pandemic has revealed how years of under investment have resulted in local communities being exposed and vulnerable to the health and social realities brought on by this crisis.   Whilst we have seen incredible local voluntary initiatives over the last year, with people coming together to help and support each other, it is not a long term sustainable solution.  Local government needs to be properly financed to ensure Harrow is a healthy and safe place for residents to live and thrive in.  The Green Party have progressive plans to invest in local communities and our vital local services, believing that Council Tax needs to be radically overhauled.  We would like to see council tax and business rates replaced with a Land Value Tax (LVT) or ‘developers’ duty’, which will capture the value of the land not the property.   The current council tax band system is out of date and unfair, based on property prices from when the tax first emerged in 1991.  It favours wealthy home owners and landlords, with costs often bypassing the owners of rented properties, passing instead to tenants.   As joint leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley states, “Council tax is regressive and it’s the past”  LINK    .  The LVT will be a proportionate and locally controlled property tax – “a single tax (replacing the multiple taxes that currently exist) which will capture the real value of land, and the increased value arising from improvements to it.”  LINK    


Green Party Sian Berry has also just pledged to set up a People’s Land Commission if she becomes London Mayor in May, helping to restore and revive local communities.  It is local communities who best understand the areas they live in, and they are the ones who should be consulted “to transform their own high streets, plan a low carbon future, and create community infrastructure and new homes.”  Read more HERE