Plans to build three new tower blocks containing more than 500 flats overlooking the North Circular have been given the green light.
The development will go ahead despite concerns about its low numbers of affordable housing and potential strain on public transport.
Developers Wembley Tower Ltd will build the £250 million development at Wembley Point, including 515 new homes, a boxing gym, retail space, and a new cycleway. It is part of a wider redevelopment of the area, which has already seen the existing 21-storey ‘WEM Tower’ turned into 439 studio flats.
The plan was approved at a recent Brent Council planning committee (October 24), although concerns were raised about the scheme’s lack of affordable housing.
Cllr Liz Dixon, who abstained on the vote, called for the plan to be ‘more ambitious’ about delivering affordable housing numbers, which had been reduced from 35 per cent in the original application down to around 24 per cent.
Cllr Dixon said the plan ‘failed to meet the affordable housing level’ to meet the needs of the borough and was ‘not happy’ with the discrepancy between the viability assessments. The site’s planning adviser, Karen Jones, said it is considered the ‘maximum achievable’amount.
She added: “I appreciate it’s always disappointing seeing a reduction of affordable housing on the site […] originally, when we submitted this application back in early 2022, we were going for a fast track rate of 35 per cent.
“It’s a consequence of many factors. One of which is time and what’s happened economically but also in terms of what’s happened with updated fire regulation guidance and the need to invest in a second stair.”
Residents are also fearful that the influx of new people to the area when the development is finished will mean local infrastructure, such as roads and public transport, will struggle to cope.
One resident said the nearby Stonebridge Park Station ‘already struggles’ during peak hours and called the number of new residents proposed ‘absurd’.
The developer has pledged to provide £1.02 million towards station improvements at Stonebridge Park and bus service enhancements. The £546,700 earmarked for Stonebridge Park Station improvements would contribute to increasing capacity and delivering step-free access.
However, Transport for London (TfL) doesn’t own the station, Network Rail does, so the contractual arrangement is still being worked out and the delivery depends on TfL’s finances and timetable of works.
These improvements will be essential as the proposal is ‘car-free’, with the exception of Blue Badge parking, meaning more strain will be put on local public transport. Cycle parking and a new cycle lane have been proposed along the southern boundary.
Nearby residents are fearful the development will drastically impact their quality of life by resulting in a loss of sunlight and privacy, as well as the flats adversely affecting the ‘feeling of community and neighbourliness’.
A total of 29 flats homes will be impacted by loss of privacy and sunlight but planning officers said the ‘overall benefits of the scheme outweigh the limited harm to those small numbers of homes”.
Designs show the three buildings will be made up of one 32-storey skyscraper with 266 flats, comprising 84 one-bedroom, 178 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments – all of which are earmarked for private sales. ‘Building B’ is a three-story low-rise block containing a gym, currently intended to be used by Stonebridge Boxing Club.
The third building will be a part 16, part 20-storey tower block containing a mixture of private and affordable homes. The total 249 apartments will comprise 16 one-bedroom, 58 two-bedroom and 75 three-bedroom, as well as four commercial units on the ground floor.
The 116 affordable units will be on a 70:30 split of London Affordable Rent to London Shared Ownership.