St Raphael's Estate regeneration abandoned as 'unaffordable'

Crowds fill St Patrick's church hall to hear about the future of St Raphael's Estate. Picture: Natha

Crowds fill St Patrick's church hall in 2019 to hear about the future of St Raphael's Estate. - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Neighbours will no longer be balloted on the future of St Raphael's Estate as regeneration plans have been deemed "unaffordable".

St Raphael’s Estate, which straddles Stonebridge and Neasden with more than 1,100 homes, was to be the second in the borough where neighbours would be balloted to decide its fate, after Kilburn residents were balloted.

St Raphael's Estate is in Neasden (Pic credit: Google)

St Raphael's Estate is in Neasden - Credit: Google

In a letter to residents Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt has now said only an "infill plan" can go ahead, meaning no homes will be demolished. 

Instead all new homes built will be owned by the council, for rent to existing and new tenants.

Cllr Butt wrote: "Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, including uncertainty around the future availability of funding from the government, the redevelopment option is no longer affordable at this point in time.

"This means, as only the infill masterplan is affordable, we will not be going ahead with a ballot."

In line with a plan by London mayor Sadiq Khan to give residents more say on regeneration, Brent's Council agreed that those on the estate would get a vote.

The council developed two masterplans – one for infill development and one for redevelopment – which split the community.

In a tense meeting in April 2019 the Cllr Butt said there were "no plans" yet.

One resident who asked not to be named said they were "fine" about the plans.

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"There will be change," they said. "Some residents are disappointed and some are angry, especially those who didn't want it to happen then realised they did.

"A lot of elderly people didn't want to move. The community's split half and half. I'm fine either way."

Neighbours against the regeneration said in a statement to this paper: "We are  delighted with the news that Brent has stopped the demolition 'at this stage'. 

"We have spoken with a few other residents who are also delighted with the news,  one mentioned 'about time [council] can start back fixing up my place'.

"We had others who said 'we can get on with our decorating again',  'we are thrilled', 'amazing news'" and another said 'Guys We did it.' 

"A few others mentioned they are happy that Architects for Social Housing (ASH) came on board to help."  

They said a few neighbours have taked down their NO! To Redevelopment posters from their windows upon hearing t the news, "a sense of relief they can get on with their lives," the statement said.

They added that more than 600 residents who signed a "live petition" would be "delighted" with the news. 

"Moving on we must have proper engagement, transparency and clarity at every stage of this infill and refurbishment project.

"Despite this announcement our work is not done, we feel there are a few things that needs to be ironed out." 

Cllr Butt wrote this month: "I want to reassure you that our goal, to build new council homes and make St Raphael’s a great place to live, has not changed.

"Alongside building new council homes, we also want to invest significantly in your neighbourhood and your community over the coming months and years."

He said work will start "straight away" with St Raphael’s Voice, the community board set up around the ballot,  to identify and deliver improvements to the "day-to-day care of the estate".

He said cutting the grass more often, removing abandoned vehicles and cutting back the overgrown bushes and trees would be prioritised, as would ensuring house repairs are done on time.

He said Brent's cabinet will discuss funding in the autumn.