Payout victory for village campaign
PUBLISHED: 18:30 14 August 2019
Roe Green neighbours have received a four-figure compensation payout after winning a fierce three-year battle to stop floodlit football pitches in their village.
Football powerhouse Powerleague announced it would ditch plans to build a large floodlit sports complex on Kingsbury High School's Bacon Lane campus last June - triggering the recent windfall.
The news was a huge victory for members of the Roe Green Village Residents' Association who were preparing for the conservation area's 100th anniversary celebrations at the time.
"The award was almost a six figure sum but ended up as a four figure sum as we could only apply for the two weeks prior to the appeal taking place, when Powerleague withdrew," said Debbie Nyman, chairperson.
"Even though the secretary of state had agreed our claim, Powerleague, in cahoots with Kingsbury High School, even dragged this out so that we almost had to go to the High Court.
"We are obviously relieved it is now over after three years plus six months to obtain our claim."
There were murmurs of floodlit pitches in the academy's fields as far back as 2012. But in 2015 Kingsbury High chiefs made a joint application with Powerleague for floodlit commercial football pitches, which would be open to the public until 10.30pm, seven days a week.
Neighbours, supported by Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, said the pitches would "kill off the conservation area".
Brent Council planners rejected the application in 2017 to protect the village, called "Brent's jewel in the crown".
The school and Powerleague then appealed, and "acted unreasonably" according to the secretary of state for backing out just two weeks before the hearing - hence the payout.
Association members are giving the money to the three consultants who stuck by them researching issues including drainage risks, light pollution on wildlife and the effects of swapping grass for astroturf.
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"Their expertise combined with our stubborn and passionate community aimed to fight to the end to ensure our village was not destroyed," added Ms Nyman. "They were prepared to stick with us for the whole duration of three years with no prospect of being paid.
"We are really indebted to them and were only sorry we couldn't get a better claim to show how grateful we were for their constant hard work with us."
RGVRA TIPS TO BATTLING COMMUNITIES:
1.Don't leave it to your council to fight your corner - they are under-resourced and often no longer possess the in-house skills to really investigate these large applications fully.
2. Don't just read the first few documents; we read and scrutinised something like 80 documents and commented on each and every one which revealed that much of it was out of date, technically inaccurate and a 'cut and paste' job, i.e. done from a desk rather than knowledge of a site.
3. Keep your local community informed on a regular basis, and try bring together the diverse skills and collective brains it has to offer. From parents to photographers and social media gurus, from engineers and scientists to teachers, vicars and historians, a community that truly works together can be incredibly resourceful.
4.Request that neighbours respond to anything that you feel can support the appeal; we had constant support from neighbours, who all wrote their own individual letters. We didn't do a petition (only counts as one) and it gave them an opportunity to voice their individual opinions - and they did.
5.Never let up! Keep an eye on the website and be ready to respond immediately.
6.Don't give up - many of the 'victims' of Powerleague lost out because there was not a strong response the whole time. We started off fighting our corner and continued for three years; that's not an easy thing to do.
7. We had a presentation for our neighbours, we produced banners (which we had to fight for); we constantly reminded the papers, we were interviewed on TV about it. We were pretty relentless in our attempt to keep one step ahead of our foe.
8. Numbers count when fighting/objecting or campaigning. The more individuals that sign, write in and appear the better. It demonstrates that it is not such a core of like-minded people but a whole community of angry residents (and voters)
9. Last but not least, keep positive. Over such a long period of time, it is hard to keep up the momentum but we did and we are happy to say it paid off.