'Stay of execution' in Kensal Rise as asphalting 'paused'

Neighbours in Clifford Gardens, Kensal Rise,

Neighbours in Clifford Gardens, Kensal Rise, say 'NO' to asphalted pavements - Credit: Oly Durey

Asphalt pavement works have been "paused" a second time following an outcry by Kensal Rise neighbours.

Neighbours in Clifford Gardens received notice that work would begin on asphalting their pavements on March 8 - the day children returned to school after a Covid lockdown.

Young protesters in Clifford Gardens against asphalting pavements

Young protesters in Clifford Gardens against asphalting pavements - Credit: Joanna Sykes

They set up a petition and managed to get 544 signatures in a week.

However, 10 days later workmen arrived to start ground work outside their houses.

When they returned with lorries and rollers on March 20 the workers were met by an army of parents with children and buggies blockading the street.

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Neighbours finally had a meeting with Queen's Park councillors and Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt who allegedly agreed the plans needed to be "reviewed".

"We've had a stay of execution," said Oly Durey. "It was clear no-one had looked at the street before. They need to review this properly.

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"We aren't asking for a flash pavement, what we are asking for is quality standard paving that reflects the area. People are proud of where they live."

Oly said that Virgin had dug up the pavement last autumn to lay fibre optic cables and had "carefully relaid the pavement".

Clifford Garden pavements relaid by Virgin

Clifford Garden pavements relaid by Virgin - Credit: Joanna Sykes

"Six months later Brent plans to throw it in a dump, they are throwing good pavement away, it makes no sense, it's a very short-sighted approach."

Neighbours have asked the council for the cost savings of asphalt over slabs and offered to fundraise the difference.

They have also requested a priority list of what order streets are done in but as yet have received no information of that nature.

Like residents in Brondesbury Road, who had the works paused for two days, neighbours in Clifford Gardens point to streets such as Harvist and Hardinge roads which were repaved with slabs, saying there is "no consistency" to what Brent is doing.

Families protest against asphalted pavements in Clifford Gardens

Families protest against asphalted pavements in Clifford Gardens - Credit: Joanna Sykes

Brondesbury Road resident Flavia Rittner previously told this paper the council had "not produced costings" for re-using existing undamaged paving slabs.

"In these financially constrained times ‘make-do-and-mend’ would be better economically, environmentally and from a conservation perspective," she said.

Joanna Sykes added: "We remain hopeful but whether this hope is founded will remain to be seen.
"It does seem strange they are ploughing ahead on other roads.
"Almost feels like they are trying to get away with as much tarmac as possible where perhaps residents have not put up the same fight."

Houses in the street, which is in a proposed conservation area, were built in 1897 by Charles Langler and Charles Pinkham and many have stucco detailed facades.

A house in Clifford Gardens

A house in Clifford Gardens built in 1897 by Charles Langler and Charles Pinkham with its stucco detailed facades. - Credit: Joanna Sykes

"Residents are constantly investing in maintaining the buildings, cleaning and restoring brick work and replacing stained glass front doors," added Jo.

"It's painful the council can't maintain the same standards for the street the residents care so passionately about." 

Brent Council has invested £20m in a programme of major footway repairs across the borough and has already asphalted swathes of pavements over the last two years.

But residents points to areas where the tarmac "looks appalling" such as Doyle Gardens, towards Roundwood, where asphalt is "cracking with tree roots" or Purves which is highly uneven.

Purves Road - asphalted and Harvist Road slabbed.

Purves Road - asphalted and Harvist Road slabbed. Which looks better? - Credit: Joanna Sykes

Oly added: "A high quality urban environment is essential for people's health and for productivity. 

"I went out with Jo when we were both outraged by what was happening and the lack of consultation, we took one side of the street each, obviously wearing our masks, and within an hour we had 100 signatures and made friends with the rest of the street.

"There's a strong community in Brent and that's something the council should be nurturing.

"I'd rather not be fighting with the council I'd rather be working with the council and hopefully now we are working with the council but it's now in their court to come back to us.

"There's a chance here for Brent to set the path in a positive direction."

At the time of going to press Brent did not reply to questions about cost savings and priority streets.

A spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the footway works in Clifford Gardens have been paused whilst we work through residents’ questions and concerns." 

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