'They don't care about us': Stonebridge at crossroads facing future

Roy Campbell, who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years, wants more provisions for Stonebridge

Roy Campbell, who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years, wants more provisions for Stonebridge - Credit: Adam Shaw

Walking around Stonebridge in north west London, it’s difficult to see at first glance how it got such a fearsome reputation. This is an estate that regularly tops Brent’s crime statistics tables and, for many years, had a serious problem with gun violence.

In 2015, Stonebridge was named the top ‘gun hotspot’ in London, with 16 incidents reported that year. Things have improved since, and there has been just one weapons crime logged in 2022.

It makes sense, then, that residents told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there’s no reason to feel unsafe in their neighbourhood “as long as you keep yourself to yourself”. Locals did, however, complain that the area has been neglected for decades, with few community facilities and little for young people to do. 

There are also concerns that vulnerable people – including drug addicts and those with long-term mental health issues – are being housed together in Stonebridge, with little support in place. 

Phillip Chung, who has spent time in several estates in Brent, said Stonebridge is a long way off resembling a thriving neighbourhood. He urged the council to invest in the area, but he isn’t holding out much hope. 

Philip said: “They don’t care about Stonebridge at all. We’ve all heard it millions of times before and nothing happens. Why should I waste my time voting for these people, when they aren’t going to do anything for the area?”

He said it’s the younger generations he feels most sorry for, as, in his view, they have little to aspire to in Stonebridge. He added: “There’s absolutely nothing for the youth here. Where are the parks? Where are the gyms? Even to go to the shops properly you have to go to Harlesden. They’re left with nothing to do except hang around. And then you wonder why they might go looking for trouble.”

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Phillip also believes people struggling with drug addiction are being “dumped” on the estate, which he said doesn’t benefit anyone. He said: “People are being housed here and, within hours, they’ve turned their home into a crack den. There are some properties that are 24-hour party places. Everyone can see this is a problem, but it keeps happening.”

Roy Campbell, 76, who has lived in Stonebridge for more than 30 years, agreed that the area has been a bit unloved. A homeowner, he said there is no point trying to move out as he would be unable to afford to live anywhere else in London. 

Housing in Stonebridge

Housing in Stonebridge - Credit: Local Democracy Reporter

He said: “Why would I move? I’ve lived in London since coming over from Jamaica in 1962. All my family is here. All my friends are here. I just want to live in a nice place. 

“There’s rubbish that gets left for weeks, there are holes in the ground that could be dangerous for kids running around. It’s not too much to ask for to ask the council to help look after the area a bit.”

Another Stonebridge resident, Patrick, who did not want to reveal his surname, said there are issues with alcoholics roaming the streets and little attempts by authorities to address this. He added: “I’ve only been here for about six months but I’ve known the area for years and it’s been left to rot. You see very few police around here, it’s as if they just let people get on with whatever. It’s the sort of place you save up to move out of.”  

Brent Council has insisted that Stonebridge has been supported for a number of years, and it remains a key focus when it comes to improving the borough. 

A council spokesperson said: “Over the past couple of years there has been considerable investment in Stonebridge, from homes and major improvements in Stonebridge Estate to almost 100 trees planted in public spaces across the ward.

“The next few years will see further investment. This includes council homes and affordable workspaces at Morland Gardens and council homes and estate-wide improvements at St Raphael’s."

They said a new secondary school is being built, adding: "The council is also working with the local community on a new project to improve local parks and green spaces in the area.”