A much-loved Indian restaurant on the border of Harrow and Brent will sadly close down and be replaced with a block of flats.
The controversial redevelopment of Mumbai Junction in Northwick Park, which sparked anger locally at the loss of the “historic” venue, has been approved by Brent Council at a meeting on Wednesday night (October 18).
Property developers Fruition Properties will bulldoze the two-storey Indian restaurant on Watford Road to make way for a three to five-storey building, comprising 42 new homes.
Davey Parekh, whose family has owned and run the restaurant for nearly 15 years, told the committee that closing the business is “the right decision”.
He added: “The restaurant has been in administration twice historically. Given the current economic challenges we’re faced with, we must close the restaurant. It is sad to sit here and say that but it is the right decision for our family.”
Plans show the 42 new homes will comprise a mix of 15 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, and 11 three-bedroom flats. There would also be 24 car parking spaces and a communal roof terrace at the fourth floor level. The scheme has been criticised for its lack of affordable or social housing and demolition of a “very popular” restaurant.
A statement read out on behalf of Keith Perrin of the Sudbury Court Residents Association said: “Mumbai Junction is very popular as demonstrated by the number of visitors seven days a week. […] This is an item of social infrastructure, the definition of social infrastructure is not exclusive and this has evolved to meet the needs of a culturally diverse population.”
Resident Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray believes the development is “totally out of character” with the surrounding area and “does not benefit the majority of residents” in the borough. She said: “The development will not bring down the 25,000 plus homeless people. This development will not decrease spending on temporary accommodation.”
She added: “But, if we do it properly with social and affordable housing, we may well look at ways of reducing the £13m overspend. I would urge the committee, please listen to the residents. None of the residents want this.”
Documents state that the development “cannot reasonably deliver any affordable housing” as the costs would make the project unviable. Whilst Cllr Michael Maurice said the development offers “no benefit to anyone”, the committee chair Cllr Matt Kelcher had argued that it provides the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing”. In this case, that is none.
Mr Parekh felt it was “obvious” that the site should become new housing as they don’t come up often in the area and needed “now more than ever”. He said: “These plans will provide new homes for young people and families like mine.”
He added: “These young people will be able to work here, raise their families here, and be part of the community just as mine have been […] It has been an honour and a privilege to serve our local customers over this time.”
The committee voted to approve the plan by split decision, despite more than 450 people fighting against the development, including residents, councillors and a local MP.
Cllr Kelcher, said: “We have a chronic housing shortage and we have a housing target that the council has decided and we have committed to try and achieve.”