Neighbours urge Brent to stop asphalting Conservation Areas

Asphalt around a tree in Dartmouth Road brent

Neighbours have slammed Brent Council for using asphalt in Conservation Areas - Credit: Maggie Chambers

Neighbours in Conservation Areas in Brent have hit out at the council for "ignoring" pleas to fix pavements with slabs, not asphalt.

Residents of Brondesbury Road were given two weeks notice that their slabbed pavements would be asphalted on Monday (March 8).

Following an "unsatisfactory" meeting with councillors on February  26, including with Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt, a petition has been launched with 140 signatures gathered in one day. 

Residents in Dartmouth Road in Mapesbury, meanwhile, are accusing the council of ignoring their petitions and asking for a "more considered" replacement of slabs rather than its "reactive approach".

Brent Council has invested £20m in a programme of major footway repairs across the borough and has already asphalted swathes of pavements over the last two years.

Chambers Lane being asphalted despite huge opposition by locals. Picture: Sonia Locke

Chambers Lane being asphalted despite huge opposition by locals. - Credit: Sonia Locke

Residents in Conservation Areas argue slabs are more in keeping with the neighbourhood, use less carbon and are cheaper to both lay and recycle in the long term.

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A council cabinet report in May 2016 states: "Conservation Areas will be considered on a case by case basis, but will normally be replaced like for like."

Harvist Road, which leads onto Brondesbury Road, has been slabbed - resulting in calls for Brent to be "consistent".

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Brondesbury Road resident Flavia Rittner said: "A year on, Brent has given our road just two weeks notice and excluded local stake holders from an emergency council meeting.

"No community engagement, no consideration for the environment, unsubstantiated claims of cost-saving.

"All Londoners face challenges, it can’t just be business as usual from Brent.”

Residents said "many petitions" have been ignored - including more than 500 people who signed an online petition.

Neighbours against the uprooting of paving stones for asphalt on Dartmouth Road

Neighbours against the uprooting of paving stones for asphalt on Dartmouth Road in 2019 - Credit: Maggie Chambers

After 149 people signed a petition about Dartmouth Road the work was initially stopped, but asphalt continues to be used for "remedial" work, particularly around trees. 

In correspondence seen by this paper, a "junior" Brent officer, said in response to a neighbour: "With regards to your statement that asphalt is an eyesore, this is subjective opinion."

Dartmouth Road neighbour Mary Sayers said: "The point of a petition is to decide what collective subjective opinion is.

"Brent Council is just ignoring the democratic process we went through, the democratic process of getting people's opinion seeing what they've said, feeding it back and being told they would replace slabs rather than asphalting it. I felt we had achieved our aims with the Dartmouth Road petition and its submission.

"Instead we get a stonewalling response due to cost and the reactive programme but not addressing the petition."

Asphalted roads in Brent

Residents are against asphalted pavements in Brent saying they are an eyesore and climate hazard - Credit: Maggie Chambers

Complaints range from "cracked and humped" asphalt laid two years ago that is "as much of a trip hazard" as slabs and tarmac which chokes off the water for trees by being put down too close to their trunks.

Another Dartmouth Road resident, Maggie Chambers, said Brent should "pull the plug" on asphalt in keeping with its Brent Climate Emergency Strategy. 

"Brent refuses to acknowledge the diesel lorry miles involved or the carbon cost of making asphalt," she added.

Cllr Krupa Sheth, lead member for environment, said: “It is completely untrue to say that we are not listening.

"Where residents have expressed concerns about the planned works, we have listened carefully and worked alongside ward councillors to try to reach a solution, always while balancing the money available for that area.

"The compromise that was reached with residents on Dartmouth Road was that we would halt the planned works and carry out reactive works only. We have been open and transparent with local groups at every stage of the process."

She said asphalt is 100pc recyclable, more durable and flexible than existing slabs, and less likely to crack.

"We are always looking for innovations to reduce the environmental impact of our services, which is why this year we’re also trialling a new ‘warm’ method for laying the asphalt to lower carbon emissions."

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