Kate Spence writes:
The site plan below shows land to be assigned for development by a partnering developer in Willesden Greeen as agreed by the Executive Committee in February 2012. This plan was drawn up in order to define the land made available in order to deliver a new Cultural Centre at zero cost. The contracted developer, Galliford Try agreed to provide a new Centre that would add cultural benefit to the area, the public realm was to be enhanced and at the same time Council offices would be provided to provide a South of Borough presence for Brent Council. In order to deliver the project at zero cost, a master plan was agreed by Regeneration Team and the developer to provide private housing to fund the project.
I note from Andy Bates' letter of 27th December that, almost one year on, there is now further land required for disposal to Galliford Try in order that proposed new Planning Application 12/2924 & 12/2925 can meet Planning Regulations. There has been no question of the rear line of the Cultural Centre being adjusted to allow for public provision as this would decrease the space available for private housing and therefore reduce developer profit.
The developer has also not shown any willingness to reduce profit and include a basement to house archive and museum allowing better provision for public amenity. Instead it has been agreed, behind closed doors, that yet more Public High Road, Conservation Area open space should be assigned to Galliford Try for development purposes.
In the proposed plans the developer has failed to make space for adequate on-site car parking provision, they are also unable to deliver cycle parking. I can see that the proposed plans for Grange Road include cycle parking and therefore a cycle route.
Currently the Grange Road area is enjoyed as a safe pedestrianised walkway. Will the inclusion of a cycle route and parking enhance this area and do the proposed children's pavement interventions really sit safely alongside the cycle access? This appears to be yet another ill-conceived plan which does not offer public benefit and will not enhance the area.
Has the post-contractual decision to give over yet further public land to achieve a large housing development with small Cultural Centre been formally authorised by the Executive?
Clearly the allocated site was insufficient for the proposed public facility along side the private housing and therefore yet more public land has been assigned without consultation in order to achieve a positive outcome for the applications ref 12/2924 and 12/ 2925.
The goal posts seem to have moved in order to facilitate an untenable application and the basis on which the WGCC and housing contract was signed with Galliford Try has been adjusted in order to make the unacceptable plans viable. This alteration has been agreed by a Council who claim to be impartial in their assessment of the scheme.
I do hope that when the scheme is presented to the Planning Committee that there will be a more objective approach and the developers requirement for additional public land in order to meet their objectives, will be highlighted in the Planning officers report to the Committee.