This is the text of an email sent by Philip Grant to Chris Walker, Brent's Assistant Director Planning and Development, on 23 January 2013:-
VALIDITY OF WILLESDEN GREEN LIBRARY CENTRE PLANNING APPLICATION
Further to my email yesterday, forwarding a copy of an email I had sent to Andy Bates, I am writing to formally question the validity of planning application 12/2924 (made in the name of Galliford Try Plc) for the proposed redevelopment of Willesden Green Library Centre.
This application was received by Brent Planning Service on 2 November 2012, and validated on the same day, even though it took until 15 November to load all of the supporting documents onto your website. At some later stage, however, one of your Planning Officers either realised, or had brought to their attention by a comment made in respect of the application, that this application, as it stood, was not a valid one.
Having reviewed the Department of Communities and Local Government document "Guidance on Information Requirements and Validation" via the Planning Portal website, I can see why this application, as submitted, was not valid.
- Paragraph 40 makes clear that among 'the information required to make a valid planning application' is the 'mandatory national information requirements specified in the GDPO.'
- Para. 44 says: 'The GDPO requires applicants to submit “a plan which identifies the land to which the application relates”. This is interpreted as a location plan and a site plan.'
- Para. 46 states: 'The application site should be edged clearly with a red line. It should include all land necessary to carry out the proposed development – for example, land required for access to the site from a public highway, visibility splays, landscaping, car parking and open areas around buildings.'
The site plan originally submitted failed to include all of the land necessary to carry out the proposed development, because it did not, among other things, include land in Grange Road on which development forming an integral part of the application proposals would be carried out.
Having discovered that an application which had been treated as valid was in fact invalid, it appears that the applicant was invited by one of your Planning Officers to "correct" the site plan. As Andy Bates explained to me in his email of 21 January:
'I am happy to confirm that ... the revised plans amended the red line to include all the land that forms the application site. Previously, the northern end of Grange Road was shown as being the subject of future highway works that formed part of the development site, but not within the red line. Planning Officers requested that this site plan be corrected and it was on this basis that the new batch of plans was submitted.'
As a result, revised plans were submitted, including site plans with a new red line site boundary, just before Christmas 2012, with the revised site plans uploaded onto your website on 24 December 2012. This revised application must therefore be treated as replacing the invalid application of 2 November 2012.
The question now shifts to whether this revised application is valid. On the technical grounds that the revised site plan now 'includes all land necessary to carry out the proposed development', it would appear to be valid, but my email yesterday to Andy Bates highlighted a further point. For ease of reference, I will repeat the main points of my argument on this aspect of the "site plan".
The site plan showing the site available to the proposed development partner for the Willesden Green Library Centre redevelopment was shown as plan A at Appendix 1 of the report by Andrew Donald, Director of Regeneration and Major Projects, to Brent's Executive on 16 January 2012. In that report, Mr Donald made specific reference to the red line site boundary, as follows:
4.18 Following the Executive approval of February 2011 the Council also reviewed the red line site boundary of the site. In order to maximise viability it was decided to incorporate Chambers Lane - the land marked crossed hatched black on plan C at Appendix 1 - within the WGLC site, as shown edged black in the plan A at Appendix 1. In February 2011 the Executive had previously authorised the Assistant Director of Regeneration & Major Projects (Property & Assets) to dispose of the land at Chambers Lane Willesden Green shown crossed edged black on plan C at Appendix 1 with vacant possession by way of auction.
4.19 In June 2011, having defined the site and the Council's requirements for the cultural centre, a tender process was followed in accordance with the HCA DPP Framework procurement procedures, a framework which the HCA has set up already under the EU procurement rules.
This extract confirms that the "defined" site marked by the red line (as edged and cross hatched in black on Plan A) was the redevelopment site on offer to the developer. Brent Executive's decision on this point (from item 5, Willesden Green Redevelopment Project, of the minutes of their meeting on 16 January 2012) is recorded as:
'that the Director of Regeneration and Major Projects in consultation with Director of Legal & Procurement be authorised to award and enter into a Development Agreement with Galliford Try Plc in respect of the Willesden Green Library Centre site as shown crossed hatched black in the plan A at Appendix 1; such agreement to provide for the acquisition of the land as shown edged blue and green in the plan B at Appendix 1 and the development of a new cultural centre within the land as shown edged orange in the plan B at Appendix 1.'
You will note that the Executive only authorised an agreement with Galliford Try Plc 'in respect of the Willesden Green Library Centre site as shown cross hatched black in the plan A at Appendix 1'. The original site plan submitted for this application on 2 November 2012 did show a red line boundary which matched that approved by Brent's Executive.
I am not aware of any further authority given by Brent's Executive to allow the red boundary line to be altered in order to enlarge the site. What appears to have happened is that Galliford Try Plc and Brent's Regeneration Department have failed to fit all of the "Council Works" required by their Development Agreement onto the 2170 square metres of the 7795 sqm Willesden Green Library Centre site which was allocated as the land for those works. In order to "deliver" those works, they have moved some of the proposed facilities onto public highway land at the north end of Grange Road, outside of the site boundary.
Although the "correction" to the red site boundary line contained in the revised plans brings all of the proposed development within the red line on the site plan, that site plan does not show the site boundary as put forward by the Director of Regeneration and Major Projects, agreed by Brent's Executive, and set out in the Development Agreement. I would submit that the revised application of around 24 December 2012, which replaced the invalid application of 2 November 2012, is itself invalid, because it purports to show a site boundary which is not the actual site boundary.
I will forward a copy of this email to Joe Kwateng, at Democratic Services, so that he can consider whether this is a valid application which should go forward to Planning Committee. I will also ask him to consider whether, if it is valid, it can go before that Committee on Wednesday 13 February, as Public Notice of the revised application will not be published in the local press until tomorrow, 24 January 2013, so that the extended Public Consultation Period will not end until 14 February 2013.