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Proposals to replace social club in Harlesden with flats were submitted to council before it was gutted by fire

PUBLISHED: 17:40 13 August 2015 | UPDATED: 18:14 13 August 2015

Ten fire crews were scrambled to Craven Park Road shortly after 6am this morning

Ten fire crews were scrambled to Craven Park Road shortly after 6am this morning

Archant

A former working men's club in Harlesden was ravaged by fire on Monday morning just weeks after a planning application was lodged to upgrade the site by turning it into flats.

How the new building could look (Pic credit: Brent Council)How the new building could look (Pic credit: Brent Council)

A former working men’s club in Harlesden was ravaged by fire on Monday morning just weeks after a planning application was lodged to upgrade the site by turning it into flats.

More than 70 firefighters were rushed to the former ‘Steps’ social club in Craven Park Road, at 6.18am after flames tore through the disused building, damaging most of the roof and part of the first floor of the building.

Residents affected by traffic diversions around Craven Road spoke of their concern for the disused club which has been occupied by squatters in recent months.

One resident posted on social media site Facebook: “I was so shocked to see this on way to work” while another claimed: “There’s people squatting in there including children. I hope they are ok.”

The former Steps soical clubThe former Steps soical club

Developers Stantia Properties Ltd submitted an application to Brent Council on June 16 to demolish the building and replace it with a four-storey block of 16 one-to-three bedroom flats.

The property, which has been the site of a working men’s club since council records began in 1936, had lain empty for a number of years and was at risk of becoming derelict before the site was bought up by developers.

The Steps club was a well-frequented watering hole for Harlesden residents and featured in author Rose Rouse’s blog “Not on Safari in Harlesden” in 2012.

Ms Rouse said: “It’s such a shame about the fire. When I visited Steps club it was beyond faded glory. It was sinking into the depths of decay but our reception from the drinkers was amazing.

The fire damaged part of the top floor and the roof of the former social clubThe fire damaged part of the top floor and the roof of the former social club

“It was a huge cavernous building. I think it’s hideous that they’re going to build flats there. We should be doing something creative with the building, for example a big loud music venue for Harlesden’s rich music scene.”

Seven people attended a public consultation before the planning application was submitted on May 14 and planning officers are due to make a decision on the plans by the end of October.

A spokesman for Stantia Properties said:“We would not want to speculate on the cause of the fire. The building has been squatted several times while we have gone through the planning process. We submitted a planning application in June of this year for 16 residential flats.We hope the council will approve the application in September or October. The fire will not delay this process. We have secured the site while we await the council’s decision”.

Officers from London Fire Brigade continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

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