Windmill Court Proposed development Update (27th November 2021)

Brent Council held a public exhibition today to update neighbours about the proposed developments. The last session was in September 2020, and our summary can be found here.

There are some improvements versus the previous proposals, it the 2 additional blocks have been reduced from 8 storeys to 7, the Playground and Excercise areas have been relocated to their current location, the proposal include additional security, ie fencing and secure access, secure bicycle parking spaces have been added.

However there is a serious issue for a borough that has declared a climate emergy and has declared intentions to encourage active travel.

Currently most pedestrians and cyclists access the site from the South East Entrance on Shoot-Up Hill. This is the route that leads to the nearest bus stops, just South of the site, to the tube station and to the nearest shops. There is a direct line to reach the base of the tower. Sadly the intent is to build block B right accross this access route. This means that pedestrians and cyclists wanting to reach the Tower from the Shoot-Up-Hill entrance, would have to go round block B on a windy path, then go along the community room, down steps to reach the base of the tower. This increases the walked distance significantly and doesn’t provide accessible access to all because of the steps! There are no plans to light this route either!

When we asked the architect about this rather cumbersome route for less mobile pedestrians or people with buggies, we were rebucked and told that “The integrity of block B design cannot be put at risk just for pedestrians!”. This is hardly an acceptable response in the current context of active travel enablement. It is quite clear that the whole design is centred around car use, via the Mapesbury Road entrance and veryl little consideration has been put to facilitate active travel to and from prefered access routes. They still have to explain how elderly, disabled or young people would use a path with no lighting!

Residents of Block A, a car free development, will have a rather long treck to reach the entrance on Shoot-Up Hill.

Dread to think what happens during construction if this plan goes ahead, as we know several people in the Tower, that we have been supporting, that would be held prisoners as their mobility would not allow them to go via the Mapesbury Road route to catch the bus, let’s say to go to Ashford Place, their only social outing!

More consideration needs to be given to acceptable pedestrian and cyclists routes in the knowledge that desired services lie South of the site on the A5, be it bus stops, tube stations or shops.

The other issues, highlighted in our previous post about the 9 leaseholders in the units to be demolished are still valid.

There is still the loss of around 15 mature trees to be replaced by young trees! Also the balconies of block B will be ovelooking the A5, one of the most polluted road in London, and the trees on its footprint that will be lost and protected the tower will not be replaced on the eastern boundary of the site. Mind you they will put green roofs, that will probably turn brown like in Unity Place in South Kilburn!

winding paths providing cycling accesss
pedestrian route from the South East Entrance in red

We were completely taken aback by the Network Homes representative, who insisted that we had to fill our details before entering the room, for “security reasons”! This should not be a requirement and is against GDPR rules. Also we were not allowed to take pictures of the boards apparently as the boards were on the website. Obviously they are not on the website, here. The handouts , the October 2021 Estate Newsletter are unreadable with the whole text in the illustrations blurred. See picture below, and the feedback form doesn’t comply with GDPR as asks for personal details with no explanation on how the personal details will be dealt with, which is mandatory. All in all, a very condescending and at time intimidating attitude to consultation, remisniscent of what happened in the Kilburn square consultations.

Can you read the text? We could not
one sided feedback form, no GDPR adherance.