Neighbours call on council to halt Neasden underpass housing plans
- Credit: David Stevens
Neasden residents have launched a petition in a last-minute bid to halt “concrete jungle” flats.
Brent Council officers granted InnisFree Housing Association the permission to erect a three-storey block containing nine flats next to Aylesbury Street and West Way on July 19 last year.
InnisFree bought the land from Transport for London.
The green patch hosts trees that are more than half a century old.
Residents say the first they knew about the development was when hoarding went up two weeks ago.
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Brent Council’s planning report said that 57 letters were sent out to nearby addresses but only two objections came back.
However, residents say they did not receive any letter.
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Local David Stevens said: “No one I have spoken to has received a letter, so with whom did the council consult?
"Even the Labour councillors who are normally consulted weren’t, which is highly suspicious.”
He said the underpass is one of the most polluted and highly trafficked areas in Brent and building on a green space and destroying mature trees "is in direct contravention of Brent's Climate Emergency Strategy".
“The green space is precious, how many more residents do they want to pack into this over-populated and under resourced area?”
“It sets an ugly precedent. Now under Brent planning every green space is at risk, where will the line be drawn?” he added.
Renata Eros, another local, said: “Brent Council secretively pushed this through during the pandemic and then approved planning permission to turn our green space into a concrete jungle for profit.”
Residents took their complaints to Cllr Roxanne Mashari, Brent's chair of the public realm scrutiny committee.
She said: “I would have expected there to be a public meeting between the council and InnisFree, but none took place. Resident’s voices have clearly not been heard.”
Martin Francis, member of the Green Party said: “The delegated decision was made by an officer and not sent to a planning committee as it did not meet the thresh hold.”
A Brent Council spokesperson said: "After thorough assessment this development was approved under delegated authority by senior planning officers. The development did not meet the criteria for determination by the Planning Committee."
They added: “The development was approved after a thorough assessment and is in line with Brent’s Borough Development Plan.
“The consultation was carried out beyond the statutory requirements.
"Brent Council has challenging housing targets set by central government and this site will bring much-needed homes to the borough, residents."
Nigel Pickup, head of commercial property at Transport for London, said: “This site was identified for potential development as part of our ambition to help tackle the capital’s housing crisis and will provide nine new affordable homes.
"InnisFree Housing Association’s planning application has gone through a rigorous process, including a formal public consultation carried out by Brent Council which included engagement with the local community and stakeholders, before being granted planning permission.
“We continue to liaise with the developer as they finalise their landscaping plan and we will be paying particular attention to our tree planting programme for this year in the local area.
"The planning application process included an assessment by an independent arboriculturist to examine the development’s impact on the existing trees on the site.
"While some trees need to be removed, the report identified that the majority of these were considered to be mainly small, short lived or poorly formed trees and some were recommended for felling on safety/short lifespan grounds.
"The proposals also include the planting of 25 new trees around the perimeter of the site that could act as buffer and reduce pollution, as well as retaining two trees.
"The expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in Brent next month will also significantly reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide.
"Our commercial development programme is one of the ways TfL is generating new revenue to reinvest in the public transport network, which will play a vital part in the capital’s green recovery.”
Residents intend to appeal to the GLA planning committee and plan to deliver their petition to City Hall by hand.
To sign the petition go to www.petitions.net/stop_killing_trees_in_brent_by_council