Work to begin constructing Brent's tallest tower in Alperton
PUBLISHED: 14:22 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:22 17 April 2019
Neighbours in Alperton still have questions over what will be Brent’s tallest tower – with preparatory works already getting underway.
The 26-storey Minavil House, opposite Alperton Underground station, will have 251 homes – 83 one-beds, 136 two-beds and 32 three-beds.
The £63million transformation was sold by property developer R55 to the UK's largest social landlord Clarion Housing Group and will replace a derelict two-storey commercial building in Ealing Road.
The majority of the development, 215 flats, will be available for shared ownership – part-buy, part-rent – with the other 36 at London affordable rent.
By government reckonings, all properties at Minavil House including those in shared ownership fall under the “affordable” bracket. The value of the development once built is expected to be £107m.
It will also include a Lidl supermarket, a canal-side café and creative workspace.
Speaking to the Kilburn Times, however, people living and working near Minavil House questioned the area's need for a 27-storey high-rise at a time when public services are stretched.
Bar worker Ewelina Dabrowska, 26, said it was a case of misguided priorities.
She said The Pleasure Boat, the pub she works at opposite Minavil House, will be closed at the end of the year due to another residential development in Alperton House.
“I'm worried about getting work because the pub is closing,” she said.
“You see how many empty flats there are around the area and people living here don't even have space to park their car.
“Why can't they build places for kids to play? They're developing all these skyscrapers without actually speaking to people.
“What's the point? You can't even see the sky!”
Local campaigner Andrew Jennings, 27, lives about 60 yards from the site.
He claimed when plans were first drawn up in 2011 Brent Council made “assurances” that no permission would be granted for any development exceeding its self-imposed limit of 17-storeys.
Andrew said the council reneged on their own restrictions despite warnings concerning the scale of the project. These concerns are outlined in council planning documents highlighting the development's failure to meet certain guidelines on density, the size of each property and its quota of family-sized units.
“These buildings are to appease multi-million developers, not the local community,” said Andrew.
“Public facilities in Alperton are already poor and Minavil House is going to make them even worse.
“While at face value it looks great with more affordable housing, when you look beyond the soundbites the reality is that these same developers are using these projects to then build in other areas with next to no affordable housing. It's a form of social engineering.
“The precedent has been set – developers can build as high as they like.”
Permission for the building to go ahead was granted in January by Brent Council's planning committee, nearly three years after the plans were first submitted.
Local Green Party activist Martin Francis said: “This is yet another high-rise, high-density development transforming what used to be a suburban area with human scale housing into a soulless concrete jungle.
“What Brent people really need is purpose-built, family-sized council housing.”
Andrew Portou, of Andrew's Modern Gents Hairdressers, said: “It's all about making money in Alperton. There's such a lack of basic facilities.
“We need more doctors, schools and dentists – not high-rises.”
Across the road, however, Premier Fresh Produce owner Premia Bagavati saw the positives of the development.
She said: “Overall I think it's a good thing for the community.
“If there's more houses there will be more people and more business for local shops like mine. It will help grow the area.”
Brent Council also struck an upbeat tone.
Regeneration chief Cllr Shama Tatler said: “We're building a borough fit for the future and this redevelopment will make a great contribution to that.”
Peter Mahoney, R55 chief exec, added: “As the tallest building in Brent, this elegantly designed scheme by FAL Architects will put Alperton on the map.”
Clarion and R55 recently submitted a separate planning application to build 258 new homes on Dudden Hill Lane in Dollis Hill. A majority of those, 215 flats, will be available through Clarion for shared ownership.