13.5 C
Harrow on the Hill
Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeMore NewsLocals react to huge new development in Brent

Locals react to huge new development in Brent

A North London resident has described the lack of living space provided in new tower block developments as a ‘social time bomb’.

The Grand Union is the latest of this type of housing in Alperton in Brent which, when finished, will deliver more than 3,000 new homes in blocks located along the banks of the Grand Union Canal and River Brent.

The first phase of the development, which began in 2019, is nearly complete, according to developers St George. It consists of 146 homes in the 9-storey Affinity House, and 95 homes in the 13-storey Affinity Tower – as well as facilities including gyms, cafés, and shops.

ADVERTISEMENT

When complete, the redevelopment of the former Northfields Industrial Estate will provide 3,350 new homes – of which 1,000 will be deemed ‘affordable’, including 115 council homes. There will also be a new community centre, restaurants, and leisure facilities.

A stones throw from the new development is the world renowned Ace Café, an old transport café noted for its motorbike culture. It first opened in 1938 to cater for drivers on the then-new North Circular Road before closing in 1969. It re-opened in 1997 and welcomes visitors from across the globe.

Locals react to huge new development in Brent Harrow Online
Ace Café

The cafe’s owner, Mark Wilsmore, 65, said: “I do get very passionate about this area. It seems to me to be a microcosm of what’s going on across the entire nation with our metropolitan landscapes.” He believes “cramming in” high rise flats at the scale and density that is happening is a “social time bomb” that awaits over the next 15 years due to the lack of living space.

He added: “We are being condemned to ever increasing density, ever increasing height of structures. Less and less open space, less and less public space. I am left with the conclusion that planning policy is entirely designed to help the developers, not help the people who want to live here.”

Mr Wilsmore explains that there was not a lot of opposition to the plans at the start as the developers carried out extensive consultations beforehand in order to get people on board. However, he says people have become less enthused by it over time. He added: “It’s one thing to be able to look at the pictures in the book but it’s quite another to see it in reality.”

Lifelong Alperton resident Mr Patel, 32, has witnessed first-hand what impact the developments have had on the area. He said: “As I look out of my bedroom window and see a skyline crowded in tower-blocks, I struggle to think of any positives that the Grand Union development has brought.”

Mr Patel describes how the influx of new residents is “a strain on our already over-stretched public services” with existing residents struggling to get GP appointments, as well as the impact it has had on parking in the area. He says the implementation of a new Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) on Beresford Avenue will be “an additional unnecessary cost” for locals caused by a lack of sufficient parking for residents of the new development.

He added: “It’s all well and good portraying shiny new homes but what about existing residents and the impact of the development on us? […] With the development yet to fully finish, the biggest worry is, how much worse will it get?”

Parking is also a contentious issue for the owner of Larners Newsagents, located directly opposite the entrance to Affinity House. Ganesh Nagarajah, 59, who has run the shop for 15 years, says parking has become “a nightmare”.

He added: “People come and park right in front of my shop all the time so it’s totally choc-a-bloc, not my customers but all the tenants. Everybody that doesn’t have a car park space parks here in front of my shop. It’s affecting my business so much, people have been delivering here in the morning for 15 years but now they can’t.”

However, Mr Nagarajah is supportive of the development overall. He says he likes it because “more housing is good for business”. He added: “I used to open only Monday to Friday 6am to 6pm and Saturday from 7am until 1pm and Sunday closed, but now I need to open seven days until late as well. I need to employ some more staff. It is noisy though but they stop each day at four or five o’clock.”

Locals react to huge new development in Brent Harrow Online
Ganesh Nagarajah

Another resident, Colin Evans, 63, has lived on the residential road opposite the development since 1981 and thinks the high-rise developments haven’t impacted the area negatively. He said: “They creep up on you bit by bit. It would probably look a lot different if I went back to 1981, but to be honest I haven’t really noticed. People keep themselves to themselves, it’s just a quiet area really.”

Alperton’s councillor, Anton Georgiou, was elected in 2020 after the development work had begun. said: “As Alperton is a designated growth area, we are resigned to the fact that there will be increasing numbers of developments in the area, which impact existing local residents.”

He added: “There is a growing sense that […] the negative impact this large development has on their daily lives is increasing. Whether it’s the additional number of vehicles locally, which is placing significant pressure on parking provision, to the size and scale of the development that has forever altered the area’s landscape.”

A spokesperson for St George pointed out that, in order to mitigate on-street parking issues arising from Grand Union, £750,000 was secured through the legal agreement to enable a CPZ, as well as subsidising the cost of on-street parking permits for existing residents.

They added: “When the CPZ is implemented, occupiers of Grand Union will not be entitled to on-street parking permits which will provide Brent Council with the ability to ensure any overspill parking from the site onto adjoining streets can be regulated.  Currently there are no parking restrictions on nearby roads, so anyone including commuters at Stonebridge Park Station can park.”

The spokesperson also highlighted the “significant financial contributions” the company is making to the council, which includes £5.5m to increase bus services in the area and more than £2m towards improvements to the nearby Stonebridge Park Station to encourage more public transport usage.

Never miss another news story, subscribe to Harrow Online for FREE!