South Kilburn Regeneration

Meeting with Alice Leister and Shama Tatler 4th March 2020

Following our criticism of some of the recent Planning Applications in South Kilburn we were offered a meeting with Alice Lester to gain more information. An invitation that we gladly accepted!

In advance of the meeting we sent the questions that we would have liked to get answers to (please see at the bottom of this post).

Right at the beginning of the meeting we were told that most of the information requested was not available. For example Brent had not kept a record of trees, or parking spaces.

Our perception throughout the meeting was that the regeneration of South Kilburn concentrates mainly on providing housing, things like community sports halls or rooms, trees and greenery, doctors surgeries etc didn’t seem to be a key priority or wouldn’t be provided as part of the regeneration scheme. Some items we raised concerns about weren’t monitored or recorded. More info below.

So what about housing?

1. housing units pre generation, end of 2019 and at the end of regeneration

Pre- regeneration Delivered December 2019 End of regeneration 2029
Council housing 1200 0 925
Housing Association social housing 0 614 725
Private units/shared ownership (some leasehold right to buy) 451 1455 (115 are shared ownership)
Total 1200 1065 3105

The end of regeneration numbers are subject to change as we were told that Brent are striving to increase the number of social housing units.

From the numbers above it is clear that more social rent units will be delivered by the regeneration then there were before regeneration. The promised original split of 50% social versus 50% private is not quite met.

The big shift is the move from Council run social housing to Housing Associations run social housing.

2. Social Housing: what’s the difference between Council run versus Housing Association run social housing?

Social rent units are allocated by the Council regardless of tenure.

Social rents are calculated via a government formula (for both Council and Housing Association units) taking into account market value, size of the property and the average earnings for the area, in this case Brent Borough Council.

Thus in principle there is no difference between a Council or Housing Association Social Rent unit.

However because all units will be new, there will be a rent increase for secured tenants for a new unit with similar space.

The difference between Council and Housing Association units lies in 2 fundamental points:

1. Service charges- They are not regulated and thus are set by the landlord (Council or Housing Association) to reflect the costs for ongoing maintenance and shared services (cleaning of communal areas, maintenance of lifts, supply of shared hot water and/or heating, shared gardens maintenance etc..). While there is scrutiny of the above in a Council run unit, the scrutiny in Housing Associations is limited. There have been recently a significant number of issues reported on this nationwide.

2.Landlord: The Landlord is different. A secure Council Tenant might now become a tenant of a Housing Association. All issues regarding housing are dealt with by the landlord. So if the building fails for whatever reason the landlord is responsible for managing the situation. A clear example of this is the situation in “Merle Court”, a mostly social rents building managed by Catalyst Housing. Several secured council tenants were moved into this building as part of the decant programme to allow regeneration. As has been reported, the building has been deemed unsafe and will require all occupants to be moved. We were told at he meeting that while Brent has a moral obligation to help with the situation, there is no legal obligation and that thus it is up to Catalyst Housing to find alternative accommodation for the families concerned. It is therefore likely that these families will have to move out of the South Kilburn area as Catalyst do not have any other development in South Kilburn

3. What happens to leaseholders who had bought their Council Flat?

Leaseholders will have their flat purchased at market value plus a small % amount depending on whether they live in the property or not.

If they occupy their flat they can move the equity into another social housing unit on the estate. They will not pay rent, but pay service charges. If they want, after a period of time or after death for example, to release the equity in this unit, the Council or housing Association will purchase the equity but there is no guarantee that the initial investment will be recovered. An example of this is would be a leaseholde investing £200,000 in a £400,000 property, ie a 50% equity. If in five years time the value of the property is £300000 then they would only be able to release £150,000. In this case the leaseholder cannot increase the share of equity he/she owns.

The other option is to buy a new unit in shared ownership where ownership percentage can be increased over time but rent is payable.

A leaseholder that is not an occupier has very little rights.

Why is the regeneration taking much longer than initially planned?

There have been unforeseen issues. For example an agreement regarding the redevelopment of Cullen House and the Falcon Pub, became unsustainable. There is no confirmed date for the redevelopment as discussions are still ongoing to find a solution. The delay for this site has had ripple effects on decanting tenants and thus allowing regeneration of other plots.

Another issue is the change of legal requirement to rehouse temporary Council tenants into secured social housing on the same Estate. Brent Council decanted most secured tenants from Hereford and Exeter houses. They however moved in temporary tenants (225 families) afterwards. They now have a duty to offer secured Social Housing to these families on the South Kilburn Estate. Thus 225 additional social rent units need to be supplied within South Kilburn. This is obviously impacting on the availability of the site to be developed until those families can be housed. This might explain the sudden urge to redevelop the Carlton/Granville sites to incorporate social housing and also the increase of social housing in the latest planning application (Neville/Carton Houses)

This might also partially explain why the totality of the Gloucester/ Durham scheme will be Social housing, managed by the Council.

What about the delivery of Community Spaces, Green Spaces and amenities like Doctor Surgeries and schools?

We were told that the Council has no obligation to provide the same amount of Community Space as previously available. We questioned the need for more “Entreprise Hub” space at the expense of meeting places or places where community organisations could run activities. While the value of Rumi’s Cave (in the Carlton Centre) was acknowledged there was no plan to supply adequate similar space to Rumi’s Cave on the South Kilburn Estate as “most users are not from the Estate and the space they use was only temporary”. The justification for more space dedicated to the entreprise hub was “affordable work spaces are needed in Brent”. When we questioned that most of these spaces were not occupied by South Kilburn businesses we were told that it didn’t matter where they were from. So additional entreprise space is justified by a borough wide need! Double standards we would say especially in the knowledge that the South Kilburn Trust (that manages the entreprise space) was financed by a Communities First grant dedicated to South Kilburn. Apparently the activities of the South Kilburn Trust are scrutinitised by the GLA.

In terms of green spaces we showed that most green spaces before development would disappear. We were told that much better quality green spaces were being provided as all units had outside space and families could use Kilburn Park and Paddington recreation Grounds. They also had discounted access to the Moberley Sports Centre. We asked where kids would be able to let off steam and go and play a game of football for example. The answer was Queens Park Community School or Paddington Recreation Grounds!

On the subject of amenities delivery we asked what was the progress regarding an appropriately sized GP surgery and the enlargement of Kilburn Park. The GP surgery will be delivered (although there are apparently issues being discussed currently) in the Peel Precinct Development. The resiting of Kilburn Park School (that would allow for the bigger park to be delivered) is still not guaranteed as there seem to be issues negotiating with the school boards.

What about parking and centralised heating system?

Most estates had parking spaces before redevelopment. Parking spaces will not be provided in the future new developments and on street parking spaces will be limited to previous secure tenants. Will there be enough on street parking spaces for the previous secure tenants? Unsure, as had not been calculated. The private underground car spaces for sale in the latest development had been approved before the climate emergency was declared. Not quite true, as approval was after climate emergency was declared. We were told that all future planning applications would not incorporate private parking for private ownership and would be car free.

The provision of an estate wide centralised heating system is apparently under review and there is no guarantee that it will happen.


While it is undeniable that some buildings needed redevelopment in the South Kilburn Estate, the regeneration has been plagued with issues. It seems that the overwhelming interest is in the number of housing units provided rather than in ensuring that the regeneration provides the promised and needed community amenities to support the increase in population. We would love for Brent to collate and publish the numbers we asked for. In a climate emergency, monitoring the number of trees should be important! Also to remove the local disquiet publishing changes in planning class use would be welcome.

When the regeneration started, the Council could not borrow money to deliver Council housing. However this has changed, so one wonders if the current model of development needs to continue on land that is fully owned by the Council. We also wonder where the Millions of CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) money generated by the regeneration are being spent if they are not being spent on parks and/or community facilities or public realm in Kilburn.

We were told that regeneration would be completed by 2029, but we will have to see what is delivered by end of 2029.

Questions sent ahead of the meeting

We are are particularly interested in obtaining the following data:

Pre regeneration

1. Number of Council housing units and SQF

2. Number of leasehold units and SQF

3. Total size of the regeneration area

4. number of on street parking spaces

5. number of estate parking spaces

6. size in Sqf of Community Spaces (exluding GP Practices and schools)

7 number of retail/industrial units and size in Sqf

8 size in Sqf of green spaces

9.number of mature trees

10. number of secure cycle parking spaces

11. number of residents

End of 2019

1. Number of Council housing units and SQF

2 Number of Social Housing units( not Council) and Sqf

3 Number of affordable housing units(exclusing the above) and sqf

4. Number of leasehold units and SQF

5. Total size of the regenerated area

6. number of on street parking spaces

7. number of estate parking spaces

8. size in Sqf of Community Spaces (exluding GP Practices and schools)

9 number of retail/industrial units and size in Sqf

10 size in Sqf of green spaces

11. number of mature trees

12. number of secure cycle parking spaces

13. number of residents

End of Regeneration

1. Number of Council housing units and SQF

2 Number of Social Housing units( not Council) and Sqf

3 Number of affordable housing units(excluding the above) and sqf

4. Number of leasehold units and SQF

5. Total superficie of the regenerated area

6. number of on street parking spaces

7. number of estate parking spaces

8. size in Sqf of Community Spaces (exluding GP Practices, schools, gyms with membership fees and business hubs)

9. number of retail/industrial units and size in Sqf

10 size in Sqf of green spaces

11, number of mature trees

12. number of secure parking spaces

13 number of residents.”