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Stonebridge Annexe approved but questions linger over expired bat surveys

PUBLISHED: 15:05 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:59 29 September 2020

Image of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

Image of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

Archant

The controversial demolishment of a Victorian villa in Stonebridge has been delayed while issues around bat surveys are investigated.

Brent’s Public Realm committee scrutinised a £1.2 million contract to refurbish the Stonebridge Annexe near 1 Morland Gardens on Wednesday (September 23).

The refurbishment, which was called in by five councillors, has been designed to transform the annexe into a temporary home for the Brent Start Adult Education College while the 1 Morland Gardens site is redeveloped.

Although the planning committee approved the plans five weeks ago, the status of that annexe application was still officially “awaiting decision”.

Philip Grant, who spoke at the meeting, said the decision was “rushed” as it appeared the officer who recommended it was the same officer to approve it.

Alun Lunt, strategic director of regeneration and environment at the council, said he was on holiday at the time and would have approved it.

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Cllr Keith Perrin said: “It’s not right that the person who makes the recommendation is the person who signs it off. I’d like to see the constitution changed on that.”

The meeting was not initially concerned with planning issues, but it emerged that bat surveys were “out of date” for the Altamira villa and that would impact the annex.

Cllr Gaynor Lloyd said legally at least three fresh surveys for bats would have to be carried out.

Mr Lunt said because the annexe is a refurbishment “there’s no need for bat surveys” and as most of the work is internal “it’s unlikely even if bats were present it wouldn’t disturb bats”.

Cllr Perrin said important bat surveys for Morland Gardens in ecology reports did not appear in cabinet reports and were now out of date.

He suggested the council were in danger of breaking the law on protected species, a criminal offence, and Cllr Lloyd pointed out obtaining a licence regarding development where there were bat roosts was a multi-stage process.

Councillors agreed to approve the refurbishment of the annex pending Greater London Authority (GLA) consent.

The meeting also agreed to look at the constitution on decision making and get legal advice on bat surveys.


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