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HomeCommunityPlans to convert garages at Wembley’s Chalkhill Estate into social housing

Plans to convert garages at Wembley’s Chalkhill Estate into social housing

Brent Council has agreed to work with a housing association looking to convert more than a hundred garages, which are a hotspot for fly tipping, vandalism, and drug dealing, into social housing.

Much of the estate is owned by the association but the council may be needed to force through the development by ‘extinguishing the rights’ of current tenants.

The Chalkhill Estate in Brent is owned and managed by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association (MTVH), after being transferred from Brent Council’s ownership in 1996. However, a small number of the garages are still owned by the local authority as some tenants at the time wished to remain council tenants. As they become vacant, the deeds are signed over to MTVH.

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The housing association submitted plans to convert 105 garages, as well as parking areas and hardstanding, across five sites on the Scientist Estate at Chalkhill into 60 homes ‘for social rent’.

However, 16 of the garages are still owned by third-party leaseholders meaning the council may be required to issue Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) to deliver the scheme.

Council documents state that the administration anticipates these garages will be secured ‘through the negotiations in the shadow of CPOs’ but doesn’t rule out using section 203 of the council’s statutory powers ‘to extinguish third party rights’. It suggests this may be necessary to deliver the project ‘within a reasonable programme and budget’.

Two garage blocks have been identified as a health and safety risk due to the possibility of collapsing roofs, whilst others are described as ‘largely in detracting condition and beyond economic repair’. The documents also suggest that the garages have been susceptible to crime, with reports of fly tipping, vandalism, loitering, drug dealing and isolated anti- social behaviour.

The plan claims it will deal with these safety and security issues by replacing the areas with well lit residential areas.

All of the new homes would be for social rent with Brent Council holding nomination rights to recommend those residents most in need for housing – 100 per cent rights for the first let and then 75 per cent from then on.

Residents who attended an initial consultation on the scheme raised concerns about parking, replacing the lost storage space, privacy, noise, and a loss of green space.

MTVH is hoping to get full planning permission by the end of 2024 and to start work around spring of 2025. The housing association anticipates that the two-year staggered build out will be finished by the end of 2027 or early 2028.

The council claims the development will make a ‘significant contribution’ to its housing targets. Brent has pledged to deliver 5,000 affordable homes across the borough by 2028, of which 1,700 will be delivered by the council.

Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Renters Security, Cllr Promise Knight, said: “[…] increasing the supply of affordable housing is integral to meeting the long-term housing needs of Brent residents. In the council’s borough plan, we committed to deliver 5,000 affordable homes in the borough and are on track to achieve this.”

She added: “Despite the council’s success in delivering much needed affordable housing, the cost-of- living crisis and on-going housing crisis has led to more Brent residents needing support to find somewhere safe, secure, and affordable to live.”

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