Anger over mega-basement car park plans by Willesden temple

Residents protest against Willesden Temple expansion plans to build basement carpark on Deerhurst Ro

Residents protest against Willesden Temple expansion plans to build basement carpark on Deerhurst Road Pic credit: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Archant

Residents in Willesden have won a small victory after a temple’s controversial mega-basement car park planning application was pulled by the council at the 11th hour.

Brent Council had been accused by Chapsworth Area Residents Association (CARO) of “steamrolling through” a planning process which was due to be heard tonight.

It has now been rescheduled for a date in July.

Shree Swaminarayan Temple has put in a planning application to expand its premises on Willesden Lane, which includes a two-storey carpark in the “quiet residential” Deerhurst Road, where many residents live.

Dr Deborah Minchom, of CARO, said: “The council were trying to get it through without due process.

“They have lost 200 of the 680 objections which were scanned, sent and hand delivered. They tried to avoid a site meeting and only proceeded in the 11th hour in response to pressure from residents and they failed to inform objectors of the planned meeting on June 8.”

She added: “We have serious concerns about the whole project, particularly regarding air pollution. The only reason it’s being built is to accommodate cars. During construction there will be thousands of lorries and afterwards the number of vehicles coming to this quiet area where old people and children live. We’re 10 minutes from a tube station, it’s an easy journey. We should be reducing car use, not increasing it.”

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Cllr John Warren, leader of Brent Conservatives, added: “There has been a procedural mess and the council have at last admitted it by cancelling the meeting at the last minute.”

A spokeswoman for Brent Council said an “IT error” in notifying “interested parties” led to the meeting’s cancellation.

She added: “As is our standard practice, planning officers report objections to committee by household, rather than by individual name.

“This is to stop uncontentious applications, for example, a neighbour’s single storey extension to their house, from receiving multiple objections from just one household and forcing the issue to go to a full planning committee.

“With the Willesden temple application, the council received 683 letters and 80 online comments, with 499 letters and 52 online comments left, having taken into account duplicated comments and multiple letters from households.

“All issues raised however, through comments and letters from every individual at every household, is considered by planning officers and are put to the committee for their consideration in reaching a decision.”

A spokesman for the temple told the Times: “Over the last few years the temple has worked with the council and residents who have been engaged with it to develop an appropriate scheme including underground car park. We feel the car park scheme meets council requirements; appropriate surveyor reports (including traffic and highways) have been issued and showed no issues.

“The car park will actually lighten the burden of parked cars on surrounding streets during festival days; the number of cars will not increase. The scheme will not increase the number of people visiting the temple, but modernise facilities for existing users.”

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