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Calls for more transparency within Brent Council’s planning department

PUBLISHED: 09:27 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:15 31 May 2018

File picture of new homes given approval by the council's planning committee (Photo: Brent Council)

File picture of new homes given approval by the council's planning committee (Photo: Brent Council)

Archant

Neighbourhood campaigners are calling on Brent Council to be more transparent when it comes to planning decisions.

Campaigners, councillors and parliamentary candidate outside Queensbury Pub in 2015Campaigners, councillors and parliamentary candidate outside Queensbury Pub in 2015

Campaigners for Save the Queensbury are demanding a level playing field for all the public on any planning decision as they say it’s currently an “imbalanced relationship”.

Last week council officers rejected developer Redbourne’s plans to demolish the Queensbury pub in Walm Lane. But while those who fought for the pub welcome the decision, they say they are still in the dark regarding officers’ meetings with developers.

Ian Eliot said: “We are delighted Brent Council has once again kicked out plans to demolish The Queensbury, which came out of the blue. [But] we want a transparent system where residents and developers are given equal access to those taking decisions about the community’s assets and for those conversations to be made public.

“If there is nothing to hide then why not?”

He added: “It can’t be right that developers have hours with officers while residents have two minutes to make their case in a planning meeting.”

Former Brondesbury Park councillor John Warren said: “I’ve heard from residents that it’s not a level playing field, that developers get more access, and how it’s very unfair. The planning system is flawed and residents have zero confidence in it.” Former Kilburn councillor John Duffy added it was “absurd” officers don’t have to record a meeting if it is deemed “informal”.

A Brent spokesman said: “Any would-be applicant can approach the council for advice on planning law and policy, so that both council and developer time is not wasted unnecessarily on applications which have no chance of success.

“If necessary, discussions continue when an application is submitted to try and get to an acceptable scheme. This is national planning policy.

“All applications of this nature are subject to consultation, where residents’ views are proactively sought and taken into account, before all the information is considered and a final decision is made.”

He added pre-application advice is paid for by developers and there is “no legal requirement” for meetings to be minuted. They “could be minuted voluntarily by councils” but “it would just require additional resources to be deployed”.

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