Brent’s new regeneration strategy unveiled

Poverty, unemployment and welfare dependency are on the rise, and there is a ‘high probability’ they will increase further.

That is the stark warning made by Brent Council’s head of regeneration in a new report, Brent Regeneration Strategy 2010-30.

In it, Andy Donald says that Brent Council’s regeneration strategy must be ‘refreshed’ if poorer wards are to receive the vital funding they need.

He said: “Unless addressed, the combined pressures of the economic downturn and budget cuts to local services will only serve to widen the socio-economic gap in borough.

“Unemployment levels are rising, with the most deprived neighbourhoods of Stonebridge, Harlesden, St Raphael’s, Church End, Chalkhill, and South Kilburn being greatly affected.”

The warning comes as uncertainty grows over the future of government funding for major works projects.

The Housing and Communities Agency (HCA), a quango which awards money to major projects, had is funding cut by the Government by �230 million last year, and while Brent has secured HCA funding until 2012, how its many regeneration projects will be paid for afterwards remains unclear.

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In its new strategy, Brent Council says it will focus on priority areas for investment, including South Kilburn, Harlesden and Chalkhill, raising employment and drawing in more money from the private and public sector.

Regeneration projects have attracted more than �100 million to Brent over the past decade.

Cllr George Crane (Lab: Fryent ward), lead member for regeneration, said the council’s ‘number one priority’ was the renewal of South Kilburn, but that other projects more dependent on private investment, such as Alperton, could stall if the economy fails to pick up.

He said: “The problem we have in Alperton is that we don’t own any land there, so we are wholly dependent on the private sector picking up the things we want to do there.

“But it might not see the full transformation because the private sector wants to see a good return. If the housing market is slow then that is not a good sign.”

In January Brent Council unveiled the Alperton masterplan, a planning brief for developers outlining a proposal to build 1,600 new homes in a neglected part of land next to the canal.

Speaking about the future of government funding for urban renewal projects, he added: “Up until 2012 I am confident that regeneration schemes will go ahead, but it is the longer term view that is worrying.”