Kilburn residents shout 'save our square' from over-development
- Credit: Bill Davis
Residents in Kilburn are asking for "more meaningful consultation" from the council over plans to redevelop Kilburn Square.
People living near the Kilburn Square Co-op Estate learned for the first time this month Brent Council's ambitious plan for extra social housing – which local residents’ associations believe is "serious over-development."
Brent aims to make 5,000 new affordable homes available over a five-year period, 1,000 of these through its own council building programme.
Kilburn Square Estate has been identified as a "suitable location" for the "availability of significant parcels of land that the council understands would be suitable for much-needed new homes".
These include a second 17-storey tower and an additional five to seven storey building next to it.
Three new satellite buildings will remove some mature trees and vital green space enjoyed by the community.
Lloyd Fothergill, from Brent Eleven Streets residents' association (BEST), said: “We recognise Brent’s urgent need for council homes, and are not against any development – just this particular version.
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“Brent’s starting point is its housing target, its ownership here of the land, and pressure for scale to make its financial model work.
"But how does that give it the right to ride roughshod over the wellbeing of current estate residents and local neighbours?”
As previously reported, in March 2020 Brent's cabinet approved a partnership agreement with developer and housing manager Network Homes to collaborate on new housing projects in three Kilburn sites: Watling Gardens, Windmill Court and Kilburn Square.
Kilburn Village Residents’ Association (KVRA), BEST, and the Kilburn Neighbourhood Plan Forum (KNPF) have joined forces after being "denied any formal role" in the pre-consultation process on Kilburn Square.
Keith Anderson, chair of KVRA, said: “The council and NH have set up what they will pretend is a thorough consultation with residents but panels have had only seven to 10 people join and the questions mentioned nothing about the size of the project.
"The talks focused only on details, not on the scale of the current plan."
Mr Fothergill added: “This plan feels wrong in so many ways. Nearly doubling the number of people living on exactly the same area would transform its character – when Brent is putting a sense of “place” at the heart of its planning philosophy.
"It would lose green space and some beautiful mature trees; affect light, air quality and other aspects of amenity; raise concerns about anti-social behaviour; potentially create pressure on on-street parking; and increase demands on already stretched social infrastructure like GP surgeries and schools."
His thoughts were echoed by resident Agnes Peyser who asked that the council hold "meaningful consultation events".
She attended a Tuesday morning consultation event in Kilburn Market and was "dismayed" by the fact the questions asked related to matters that "do not affect the wider Kilburn population".
"There is no question on building height, loss of green spaces, bicycle parking, parking or traffic impact on Kilburn and more generally amenity spaces for the massive increase of population in a highly populated area," she said.
She also noted the "inconvenient timing" of the events.
"Some people do work and planning these events on week days in the middle of the day is hardly enabling concerned residents to attend and participate. We ask that you either do these events in the evening or on Saturdays."
Cllr Southwood, Brent Council’s lead member for housing and welfare Reform, said: "Whilst building council homes is a priority for us, so is ensuring that any new development improves the area for people who already live there.
“I’m delighted that local people are keen to be involved in discussions about the future of Kilburn Square.
“We have started consulting with people on Kilburn Square about the designs and have received some incredibly helpful feedback so far. We’re now ready to consult with residents and groups locally to ensure we get this right.
“I can reassure residents that no decisions on the future of Kilburn Square have yet been made. I look forward to working with the local community over the coming months as we move towards finalising proposals and reiterate my commitment to developing a scheme that works for everyone."