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Brent planning committee votes to demolish listed Altamira villa in Stonebridge

PUBLISHED: 11:35 13 August 2020

The Altamira villa in 1, Morland Garden, is to be demolished. Picture: Philip Grant

The Altamira villa in 1, Morland Garden, is to be demolished. Picture: Philip Grant

Archant

Brent’s planning committee have voted to demolish a listed 19th century villa in Stonebridge despite pleas it is only one of two heritage buildings in the ward.

Image of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent CouncilImage of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

Altamira, at 1 Morlands Gardens, is to be destroyed and replaced with a nine-storey building with 65 council homes including four and five bed flats, an adult education centre, a workspace and seven parking spaces allocated to blue badge holders.

There were fears the decision will set a precedent and put other heritage buildings in Brent at risk during the meeting on Wednesday (August 12).

The listed Victorian villa on the corner of Hillside and Brentfield Road, has been a local landmark since 1876.

There were 48 initial objections to the plans with a further 15 when plans were reviewed, a 330-signature e-petition against and a 36-person written petition from Willesden Local History Society (WLHS).

There were just three comments on the Brent’s planning portal in support.

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Philip Grant, of the WLHS, said: “If you approve this application against Brent’s own policy you will not only condemn this valuable building but set a precedent that undermines Brent’s entire historic environment strategy and puts every heritage asset in the borough at risk.”

Citing “substantial harm” to the villa, he said Brent’s “guidance on policy DMP7 says: ‘The Council will resist significant harm to or loss of heritage assets.’

“It also states that ‘a balanced judgement’ is required: ‘where the harm would be less than substantial’.”

Roger Macklen said the Altamira was a “beautiful landmark building” and also quoted from Brent’s planning guidance which says its heritage assets “are a unique and irreplaceable resource which justifies protection, conservation and enhancement’ and it’s new Historic Environment Strategy which says they “cannot be used for regeneration and place-making purposes.”

Council officers said schemes were looked at on “a case by case basis” saying heritage buildings in conservation areas have “greater protection”.

Speaking for the proposal Errol Donald, member of the community steering group set up by the council in January, said it was “an essential step in reinvigorating the local community, by providing meaningful opportunities for people to live, learn and work sustainably.”

He said he looked at heritage as “something fluid (...)In my statement it’s something alive, active, ongoing.”

Councillors voted 5-2 in favour of the plans. One abstained


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