Brent Council have put a planning application for infills in the Kilburn Square Estate, just off Kilburn High Road.
For months, what has been called “consultations and design workshops” have been taking place, with residents and neighbours views mostly ignored.
The infills would reduce significantly the available green spaces and increase the population density drastically.
Access to green spaces in Kilburn is already well below the required standards by both Brent Council and National standards.
See this post about population density, that we wrote in May 2021.
Here is the planning application, but who has the time to read through 138 documents?
Residents and neighbours would accept some level of infills, ie on the spaces used by Metroland Studios and the former mental health clinic. This would deliver around 93 units without compromising green spaces!
Please see below an open letter from a Kilburn Square resident and please take the time to object to the application by clicking on the application link here. You can also find more information on the “Save our Square” website.
The other end of the telescope
An Open Letter to Brent Council from a Kilburn Square Resident
Dear Councillor Butt and Ms Downs
I live on the Kilburn Square estate, where you want to build an extra 139 homes. You sit in Civic Centre, miles away from Kilburn. All your justifications for this still oversized scheme are top-down, and viewed from an external perspective. But I’m pleading with you to look at things from the other end of the telescope. One of your Housing Officers described our estate to our MP as “brilliant”; we believe your scheme would undermine our physical and mental wellbeing, and the “sense of place” which Brent used to put at the heart of its development planning.
You tell us there’s a huge waiting list, the GLA has grant funds, you’ve committed to numerical targets, you have a target proportion of larger homes and you can’t afford to buy land. We hear that; but you then use abstract or euphemistic terms like Infill, Densification and PTAL (accessibility to public transport).
- “Infill” suggests a few extra units here and there – not 60% more households than our original estate had in 2019, with a reduced communal space.
- You tell us the GLA supports “densification”; but Kilburn Ward is already the most densely populated in Brent. As for the estate itself, the GLA has dropped its quantified measures of density of residents, as unfit for purpose; but Brent still has one – it’s called Amenity Space and our estate alreadyfails to meet it before a single new brick is laid.
- Your team have told us “if we had to respect that norm, we could hardly build anywhere”. Is that a justification?
- Good public transport is of course essential if any development is to be car-free; but that doesn’t in itself justify adding more new homes than the site can reasonably absorb
You’ve already added a Block to the Southwest corner of the site. The next, little-publicised move to add more housing was a GLA grant allocation in November 2018 – for 70 new homes by demolishing one adjacent daytime use building. Then in March 2020 Cabinet approved a Network Homes agreement, with an increased target of 80-100 new homes – removing a second daytime use building.
Had you stuck on that, the broad local community would have seen it as an acceptable compromise – and the new Blocks would be halfway built already. Contrary to your regular public assertions, neither we residents nor our supportive neighbours are NIMBYs.
Instead, your team chose to double their target. You thoughtfully offered us a second 17-storey tower – thankfully now cut to a “mere” 7-8 storeys. But you’ve persisted with three satellite Blocks (now merged to make two) on our existing communal space.
- Brent’s project website refers, to this day, to “the availability of significant parcels of land that could be suitable” for development – with no justification offered.
- And now your Planning Application claims that the green space and trees where you want to impose a 37-unit merged Block C is “underutilised”. Outrageous!
- We’ve told you for well over a year that this is not only a precious area for physical relaxation. It’s also our Green Lung – a crucial visual and environmental amenity for the whole community, on and off the estate.
West Kilburn is already in Brent’s worst category for green space deprivation – and your own Climate Strategy seeks to increase green space not remove it. But don’t just take it from me, read the second Comment posted on the Planning Portal, from a Barrett House resident. Here’s an extract:
“My flat , it’s dark and I have very little sunlight come in, I have significant health conditions including my lungs being damaged thanks to black mould, covid and asthma . I also struggle with other conditions. Taking away trees [and] green space will Impact on our health and quality of life. We utilised the green space in lockdown it was our neighbourhood connubial area!! It got us through tough times. Because we are poor and not privileged does that mean we don’t deserve quality of life? In the long run it will cost the council more as mental and physical health will decline. Several other neighbours object to this work but due to either lack of English or learning difficulties have been unable to make objections. Please don’t take away our trees, sunlight and quality of air!!!”
That’s the view of your Block C from our end of the telescope. And Block E would be shoehorned in unacceptably close to two existing Blocks.
In the meantime, the long-planned and urgently needed refurbishment of our existing tower block is no closer to being carried out.
On a broader front, you’ve not explained why you have pressed this scheme on us Kilburn Square residents rather than, for example, devoting the whole Cecil Avenue site – Council-owned and with Planning Permission in place – to Brent-owned affordable homes. That would not be financially viable?… Ah, but wait a minute: you’ve publicly acknowledged to Cabinet that the Kilburn Square Planning Application as submitted IS NOT FINANCIALLY VIABLE. How misleading is that?
When our local newspaper asked the Council last week (https://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/23139024.brent-cabinet-members-approve-kilburn-square-development-plans/) to comment on the scheme’s viability, your spokesperson dodged the question; nor did they comment on the number of units to be available at social rent level (the answer is none). The report to Cabinet is unambiguous: to achieve viability, most of Block B would need to be converted, after Planning Permission is granted, to Shared Ownership; and there’s even a hint of Open Market Sale!
For two years, your project team’s laborious pre-engagement process has tightly controlled the agenda, and has failed to gain the trust and support of the great majority of us residents. We do trust our Independent Advisors – 60% of our households gave them their honest views last year and they reported “There is no measurable support for the scheme, nor for the process”. But for subsequent “consultation” on alternatives defined by the project team, they were sidelined.
So, in summary, as the Council moves further away from meeting the needs of the truly most needy on the waiting list, towards becoming just another developer, the view from our end of the telescope is looking less acceptable than ever! For more information visit https://save-our-square.org
Sara Hojholt, Kilburn Square Resident