Monday, 25 February 2013

Is the WGLC planning decision final?

Philip Grant writes:

Although Brent (Regeneration Department?) were very quick to put out a triumphal press release last Friday, saying:

'the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library Centre (WGLC) took an important step forward last night (Thursday) when Brent Council's planning committee approved the plans,'

it is noticeable that (as at 4.30pm on Monday 25 February) neither the Democratic Services (Planning Committee) nor the Brent Planning Service  (ref. 12/2924) web pages have yet given details of any such decision.

The press release does go on to say:
'the proposals will now be put to the GLA and Secretary of State who need to give the go-ahead before Brent can formally give planning permission,'
but Galliford Try and Brent's Regeneration Department have another problem as well. At the Planning Committee meeting of 21 February there was a clear breach of Brent's own Planning Code of Practice (part of Brent Council's constitution), as a public register which Planning Officers have to sign if they have what could be regarded as a "prejudicial interest" was not available for inspection at the meeting.
I had specifically advised the Democratic Services Officer responsible for the meeting that I wished to inspect this register at the meeting, so that there is no excuse for it not being there (under the Code, it is meant to be there anyway). As a result, I complained to Brent's Chief Executive about this irregularity on 22 February, and it is currently being investigated by Fiona Ledden, Brent's Director of Legal Affairs. She has promised to report back later this week. As the Planning Committee were not made aware the possibility of "prejudicial Interest" in the reports and recommendations put before them at the meeting on 21 February, they may be asked to reconsider their decisions.

Friday, 22 February 2013

A campaign worth fighting

We may have lost last night but it was a campaign worth fighting and no one can doubt the passion and commitment of KWG. KWG did manage to retain some of the Victorian building but most importantly gave notice to the Council/Developers that the community won't be walked over.

I hope that the sense of community and common cause created by the campaign will continue in some form in the future.


Martin Francis

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Willesden Green planning application approved

After a 3 hour meeting Brent Planning Committee tonight approved the Galliford Try/Linden Homes (and some would add Brent Council) planning application for the building of 94 one and two bedroomed flats and a Cultural Centre on the site of Willesden Green Library and its car park. 7 members voted for the application, 2 against and 1 abstained.

Members of the public were given extra time to speak and made the objections that by now will be familiar to most readers about loss of public space, smaller overall library space (though this was disputed by the planners and architect), lack of parking space, housing density and height and the future of the Brent Archive.

Cllr Hunter and Cllr Lesley Jones spoke in favour of the redevelopment while Cllr Carol Shaw  opposed and presented a list of 9 issues that needed to be addressed.

A major new issue was the failure of the Council to produce the public register of interests and make it available for inspecting at the meeting. This should have been done under section 12 of Brent's Planning Code of Practice. Philip Grant has argued in an e-mail to Joe Kwateng that as the overall head of the Department which includes Planning and Development, Andy Donald (Director of Regenration and Major Projects), had signed the Development Agreement between Brent Council and Galliford Try. As a result, all of Brent's Planning Officers have an 'involvement' with Andy Donald and should have declared a prejudicial interest.

Chris Walker, head of Planning, said that the processes were kept separate. However the issue remains that the register should have been available for inspection and wasn't made available. This may have potential legal repercussions.

Crunch time for Willesden Green at Planning Committee tonight

Planners will decide the fate of our library and the construction of 94 flats tonight at Brent Town Hall - over 400 objections have been received and yet the council are still proposing to push it through planning.

The general public are welcome to attend so come along to the Town Hall at 6.30pm (starts 7pm sharp) Willesden Green Library Centre is the only thing on the Agenda  - so there is nothing else to sit through.

If you care what happens in Willesden do come along - this will  affect us all.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Planning Committee will only consider the planning application tomorrow - no powers on conservation consent

Philip Grant writes:
Anyone preparing for / attending the WGLC Planning Committee meeting on Thursday evening (21 February, 7pm at the Town Hall) need only concentrate on the planning application, ref. 12/2924, at item 2 on the agenda. No action needs to be taken on the conservation area consent application, ref. 12/2925, which is listed as item 3.
Chris Walker, the head of Brent's Planning Service, has now confirmed to me that a revised resolution will be put to the committee, if they decide to grant provisional consent to the planning application. This will simply refer the consent application to the Secretary of State for a decision, and will not claim in any way that Brent's Planning Committee is giving consent to that application, provisional or otherwise.
As I have written previously, and Mr Walker accepts, the only person who has authority to grant, or refuse, consent on application 12/2925 is the Secretary of State. Even to present arguments to Brent's Planning Committee against the conservation area consent application would be to suggest that they have a power in that matter which they do not actually have! If the application is referred to the Secretary of State, copies of all online or written comments on  both applications, whether for, or against, or general comments, will be forwarded to the National Planning Casework Unit, so that they can prepare a report for the SofS on which he can base his decision.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Public Inquiry Report ready in '7-10 days'

The Public Inquiry into the application for registration of the open space outside Willesden Green Library as a Town Square finished this afternoon.  Martin Redston and Philip Grant summed up with a detailed response to this morning's submission by Counsel for Galliford Try/Linden Homes and Brent Council.

Concluding Martin Redston said, "(In the 1980s) Brent Council wanted to put the Green back into Wiillesden. Brent residents embraced it."

Paul Brown QC, the inspector who held the inquiry said that he would  priortitise the report and expected his writing up to take 7-10 days and commented that he couldn't guarantee it by Friday of next week, "If it takes longer it is because I want to get it right."

The Special Planning Committee considering the Willesden Green Planning Application has been scheduled for Thursday 21st February, before the report is likely to be ready.

Brown commended the public, who had attended every day of the 4 day inquiry, for sticking it out.

In turn I would commend Martin and Philip for the enormous amount of work they have done in preparing the case and presenting it to the Inquiry. As Paul Brown said they were doing it in their own time and were up against people whose paid job it was to represent objectors.

The Planning Committee Agenda is now on the council website. I suggest that anyone who was planning to speak should resubmit their request. LINK

Willesden Green Planning Application from fiasco to farce

 I got a Brent Council e-mail alert overnight which seemed to say that the Willesden Green development had been approved by the Planning Committee last night. The links led to the pages above and below. I rang Democratic Services at 9am this morning and they said the announcement was a mistake and had been withdrawn. I was amazed when I got the message that the Planning Committee would have the audacity to consider the application after announcing the items deferral.

This is developing into a farce!

Decision details

Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF (Ref. 12/2924)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No


Grant planning permission in principle but delegate final determination of the application to the Assistant Director (Planning & Development) subject to conditions and informatives and;
(a)       taking into account any further representations received on or before the 14th February 2013;
(b)       any direction by the Mayor of London to refuse the application. In accordance with Article 5 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 following the Council’s determination of this application, the Mayor is allowed 14 days to decide whether to allow the draft decision to proceed unchanged or direct the Council under Article 6 to refuse the application;
(c)       satisfactory prior completion of a Section 106(s) under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and/or other form(s) of agreement/undertaking in order to secure the S106 matters as detailed in this report.

Publication date: 13/02/2013
Date of decision: 13/02/2013
Decided at meeting: 13/02/2013 - Planning Committee
Accompanying Documents:

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Reasons for deferral or even pulling out?

Philip Grant writes:
I have just received the following email, which gives at least one "technical reason" why the two WGLC applications have been deferred from the meeting on Wednesday 13 February, although it suggests that there is still some doubt over whether the new meeting will be on Thursday 21 February.
Dear Mr Grant 
You will hopefully have been notified earlier today that both applications have been deferred for consideration tomorrow and instead will be reported to a future meeting.  The date of the meeting will be notified to all who have expressed views on the application including yourself. 
One of the consequences of deferral will be to allow amendment and updates to the reports including reference to the Secretary of State on the Conservation Consent item.  I will update you once this has been done. 
Kind regards 
Chris WalkerAssistant Director (Planning & Development)
This reply follows exchanges of emails I have had with Mr Walker since the Planning Officer's report on the Conservation Area Consent application (12/2925) appeared on the Planning Committee agenda website.
I had pointed out that the recommendation made in the report, that Planning Committee should resolve to agree the Consent application in principle was unlawful, as only the Secretary of State, not Brent's Planning Committee, has authority to give any decision on this application. This had been agreed by Mr Walker, on behalf of then Chief Executive Gareth Daniel, as far back as May 2012, and Mr Walker had confirmed in November 2012, that this still applied to the new application for consent to partial demolition of the 1894 Library building.
All that is actually needed on this application is a brief report to Planning Committee, advising them that they need to refer it to the Secretary of State, and making provision for Mr Walker to implement the SoS's decision once he has made it.
Although the meeting may only be deferred for a week, it means that the proposed redevelopment of WGLC will not have received planning permission by the first anniversary of the Development Agreement between Brent Council and Galliford Try (signed 15 February 2012). This means that either party can now cancel that agreement, as planning approval within twelve months was a "condition precedent". It does not mean that either of them will pull out, but it may be worth mentioning this to your local councillors as an option they may like to consider, to stop wasting even more money on this ill-considered project.

Willesden Green planning application deferred to February 21st

The Galliford Try planning application for the Wiillesden Green flats and library development has been deferred until February 21st for 'technical reasons'.  KWG campaigners have raised various issues about the legal status of the  application over the last week or so.

The email from Democratic Services to councillors on the Planning Committee is below:
Dear Member,

Due to technical reasons, the planning applications for Willesden Green Library (references 12/2924 and 12/2925) will be deferred from tomorrow night’s meeting.  As the applications will still need to be considered at the earliest possible time following tomorrow’s meeting, the Chair has asked me to confirm your availability on Thursday 21 February 2013 for the special meeting.

If for any reason you will not be able to attend the meeting please consider asking your alternate. I would appreciate it if you could respond to this request at the earliest opportunity preferably before 10:00am tomorrow morning.

Joe Kwateng

Democratic Services Officer

Legal & Procurement Department

( Direct Line: 020 8937 1354

Council says that Galliford Try's WGLC planning application is valid

Philip Grant writes:

I received an emailed letter on Monday evening from Brent's chief legal officer, Fiona Ledden, confirming the chief planning officer's view that Galliford Try's revised planning application (12/2924) is valid, despite its red site boundary line enclosing a larger area than that agreed by Brent's Executive  in January 2012, and which was the basis of the site to be used for the proposed redevelopment.
Her letter contains a new and interesting reason for why the site boundary was changed. She now says that: 'the Council as “Local Planning Authority” needed to re-define the site boundary due to highway considerations.' Last week Galliford Try told the local "Observer" newspaper that they had submitted new site boundary plans, at the request of council officers, because they 'will be undertaking significant landscaping improvements to the area around the cultural centre, including a section of Grange Road, to the benefit of the local community.'
Brent's spokesperson told the newspaper that 'the re-consultation was undertaken because of a technical boundary change' which did not actually affect the proposed works which would be carried out. Fiona Ledden added in her letter to me: 'You will appreciate it is not uncommon for an application of this type to have subsequent minor revisions where necessary.'
So, it was all a misunderstanding (!?). I will take this opportunity to pass on a message of reassurance that Ms Ledden gave me:
'The Council is dealing with a complex planning application. It has two distinct roles in the matter, namely as “local planning authority” and “landowner”. With reference to the former, may I take this opportunity to reassure you that as the Council’s Monitoring Officer, my role is to ensure that due process and transparency is followed by the Council throughout the planning regime having regard to planning policy government guidance and statute, namely the various provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.'
We can all go along to the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday evening, confident that the planning application will be dealt with fairly and openly.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Willesden Town Square Inquiry opens today - public welcome

The Public Inquiry into the application to register the space outside Willesden Green Library a Town Square opens this morning at 10am on the 1st floor of the Willesden Green Library Centre.

The public are welcome to attend.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Is the proposed library building big enough?

Residents speak out on unaffordable housing and 'bogus' letters

Brent Planning Committee hear from residents on site visit

Residents gatherered at Willesden Green library this morning to show their concern to members of the Planning Committee who were paying a site visit prior to their decision on the planning application which will be made on Wednesday.

Residents were able to put a number of points and questions to planning officers and the developer. Among issues raised were:
  • The decision being made before the outcome of the Town Square Inquiry is known and before the planning consultation period ends on February 14th
  • The 'dodgy' support letters (see this week's Kilburn Times) that appear to have been solicited by the developer
  • The smaller area of the new centre compared with the old and the erroneous inclusion of access areas in the calculation of the area of the new centre
  • The loss of parking space for visitors to the new centre, especially if it is intended to hold major cultural events there
  • The loss of natural light to the terraced houses on the roads on either side of the development
  • Misleading drawings (see below) which misrepresent the scale of the development
  • The aesthetic damage to the conservation area of an out of scale development
  • Asset striping of public land by the developer with Council support
  • Despite the huge housing list in the borough none of the new housing will be affordable 
  • Council action and statements appeared to indicate pre-determination
A true representation of scale?
Delivering our messages
This area will be flats

This house and its neighbours will be over-shadowed by flats
Marking the spot in the present library where the flats will end
 It seemed towards the end of the visit that councillors had still not been given a true idea of the dimensions, particularly the height, of the new housing development and its domination of  the conservation area.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Gather at Willesden Green Library on Saturday to show your concern

Please gather at Willesden Green Library tomorrow (Saturday February 9th) to show your concern when the members of the Planning Committee pay a site visit at 9.45am ahead of the Planning Committee decision on the redevelopment.
The Council has recently changed the committee rules in a way that "applications may not be discussed at that time”. However at the end of the visit "the applicant and a representative of the objectors may briefly draw attention to any aspect of the site that is relevant”. It would be good to have a significant number of people present at that, including children, if possible.
The non-statutory public inquiry into the application to register the land at the front of the Library as public space will be at the Library on Monday 11th February at 10am.

The planning meeting to decide on the development is still on for Feb 13th. (
7pm at Brent Town Hall, items 6 & 7 on the agenda). Rather oddly as the enquiry mentioned above won’t have finished till the day after, and also the ' consultation' period won't be over till 14th February!!! (Happy Valentines Day from Brent Council)


Validity of Galliford Try planning application site still an open issue

Wiembley and Willesden Observer February 7th 2013

Philip Grant writes: 
Despite Galliford Try saying that 'this claim is completely misleading', and a Brent Council spokesperson saying 'we regard the application as valid', the issue highlighted in yesterday's "Wembley & Willesden Observer" (above) has not gone away.
When Brent Planning Service sent a response (see: "Formal challenge issued on validity of Willesden Green planning application", 23 January, below) earlier this week, they would not even acknowledge that the application which they validated on 2 November 2012 was, in fact, invalid. Although they said that the revised plans which Galliford Try submitted to "correct" the application were now valid, they did not answer the point which was raised, that the site plan includes a larger area than that actually agreed by Brent's Executive and included in the Development Agreement.
Dissatisfied with that reply, I referred the matter to Brent's Acting Chief Executive, Christine Gilbert, on Wednesday, as the matter is too important to allow it to be swept under the carpet. As far as I am aware, Brent's Executive has not agreed that the site boundary can be extended. If any Council Officer has agreed it, or has allowed it to be done without raising any objection, what authority do they have for this? It will be interesting to see whether the Executive is asked to approve the larger site, by way of an emergency item at the end of next Monday's already busy agenda, "just to be on the safe side".
The extra 1180 square metres added to the Willesden Green Library Centre development site is not a "land grab", in as far as the land will remain in Brent's ownership, but the fact that Galliford Try are now showing a larger site than that agreed by Brent's Executive is there for all to see, in black and red. There needs to be transparency about what is going on here, and whether or not it has been validly authorised. If it has not, then proper procedures need to be followed.
Plan A, Site Plan,Brent Executive Jan 2012        Plan B, Revised Site Plan, Galliford Try Dec 2012

Butt: developers will deliver a better and brighter Brent

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, was questioned last night at the Town Hall meeting about the Willesden Green development. He was asked about the Council's close relationship with developers and the statement that there was a 'presumption in favour of development.'  Furthermore, wasn't Brent Council the co-developer with Galliford Try at Willesden Green?

He replied:

It's the developers who will help us deliver our vision for Brent:  a better and brighter Brent.

Fiona Ledden, director of Procurement and Legal, said that she was confident that Brent has a robust Planning Committee.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Still time to object to the Willesden Walrus

There will be a visit to the Willesden Green Library by the Planning Committee on 9th February at 9.45am.. There is still time to send in objections to both Planning Applications 12/2924 and 12/2925 in response to the Planning officer's report. See KWG blog spot below

Link for objection and then click on the "comment on this application" link to leave comment.

Planning Committee site visit to WGLC on February 9th

Please note that there will be a Planning Committee site visit on Saturday 9th February at 9.45am to Willesden Green Library Centre, Public Square and Car Park. Apparently the Council has just changed the committee rules in a way that "applications may not be discussed at that time". However at the end of the visit " the applicant and a representative of the objectors may briefly draw attention to any aspect of the site that is relevant...

Friday, 1 February 2013

Brent Council goes ahead with tabling Willesden Green planning application before submission deadline and Public Inquiry ends

Brent Planning Committee is to consider the planning application for the Willesden Green Cultural Centre on February 13th despite the Public Inquiry for the Willesden Town Centre continuing until February 14th.  This is also the final date for submissions on the planning application.

The Council get over this little problem by recommending that the Committee (which is supposed to be independent of the Council) grant consent in principle and delegate the final decision to the Deputy Director of Planning and Development who will make the decision:
(a) taking into account any further representations received on or before the 14th February 2013;
(b) any direction by the Mayor of London to refuse the application. In accordance with Article 5 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 following the Council’s determination of this application, the Mayor is allowed 14 days to decide whether to allow the draft decision to proceed unchanged or direct the Council under Article 6 to refuse the application;
(c) Satisfactory prior completion of a Section 106(s) under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and/or other form(s) of agreement/undertaking in order to secure the S106 matters as detailed in this report
and for the conservation area consent:
 (b) any direction by the National Planning Casework Unit, the Secretary of State having considered the matter, to refuse the application

The Officer's reports are available below: