Plans to bulldoze a “historic” restaurant on the Brent and Harrow border and replace it with a “hideous” new block of flats are set to be refused after hundreds of locals fought against it.
Residents said the development would be “an eyesore” and serve no benefit to the borough.
Property developers Fruition Properties were looking to demolish the two-storey Indian restaurant, Mumbai Junction, on Watford Road to make way for the three to five-storey building, comprising 42 new homes. Brent Council’s planning officers had recommended that the plan goes ahead despite more than 500 people registering their objection, including residents, councillors, and a local MP – with hundreds more signing a petition.
Concerns were raised over the historic value of the site and the impact the development would have on the area. One resident said: “A lovely restaurant that has been serving the area for many years will be lost forever, this place has been a meeting place for the locals and for the wider community.”
Opposition to the plans also included Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, as well as Brent councillors Narinder Bajwa and Diana Collymore. Sudbury Court Residents’ Association said it was important to defend the history of the site, which initially housed the John Lyon pub before it was converted into a restaurant.
The plan was heard by Brent Council’s planning committee at a recent meeting (August 9), where members lined up to also criticise the scheme for its lack of affordable or social housing. Documents state that the development “cannot reasonably deliver any affordable housing” as the costs would make the project unviable.
Committee member Cllr Michael Maurice said: “It’s not really taken into account any of the local residents who have signed the petition. It’s not wanted and it doesn’t provide any sort of affordable housing whatsoever.”
He added: “It’s absolutely no benefit to the borough, we are getting nothing. […] There’s no benefit for anyone, only the builder and the owner of the property will make money.”
The chair of the committee, Cllr Matt Kelcher, argued the scheme provides the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing” – none – and that building any kind of housing is “a benefit” to the borough. He added: “Brent has a particular shortage of housing […] we need housing of all kinds.”
The housing target has risen to 2,300 new homes every year to meet the borough’s need, which includes 3,700 households that are in priority need or on the council’s waiting list. Cllr Kelcher said: “These are the people in desperate need of social or affordable housing and there are other people living at home in a spare room who want to get on to the housing ladder.”
Ultimately, a majority of committee members went against officers’ recommendations and voted against the plan on the grounds of affordable housing numbers, as well as the height and design of the development. However, the committee was advised not to refuse it on the basis of affordable housing as it wouldn’t hold up against an appeal, and a decision on whether to formally refuse the application has been deferred to a future committee meeting in order to provide a report to address the reasons for refusal.
Cllr Kelcher said: “These things are open to challenge and if there isn’t enough information put down […] that would make a challenge easier.”