Residents in a North London neighbourhood were shocked that an “historic” building in their area is set to be bulldozed for an “ugly” and “terrifying” new development.
Brent Council’s planning committee voted to demolish a three-storey townhouse in Cavendish Road, Brondesbury Park, and replace it with a new six-storey block made up of 21 flats. This was despite concerns the area will lose some of its heritage, with residents slamming the decision to get rid of a Edwardian-era building.
In an emotional address to councillors at a planning meeting, local resident David Callister said: “The design and scale of this development is astonishing and, quite frankly, terrifying. If we take this development in tandem with [another nearby scheme] you get interminable damage to the neighbourhood, destruction of the neighbourhood, vandalism of our neighbourhood.
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“And for what? What do we get? The people who have lived there for 25 years, for 20 years. What is our reward? Our reward is a clifface of brick, glass, and windows that overshadow our properties, our gardens, our lives. Forever.
“Do you get an improvement to your neighbourhood? No. You get despair. Because you see your neighbourhood and your roots trampled on.”
His neighbour, Belinda Sinclair, representing the Brondesbury Park Historic Building Group, said the council was at risk of “fast tracking the demolition of another historic building” in the area. She urged councillors to “listen” to local residents and “respect” the impact it would have on them as well as amenities such as schools and doctors’ surgeries.
Another objector, writing on the council’s planning portal, said it represented a case of “garden grabbing”, suggesting green space will be lost due to the development and wildlife, including owls and bats, could be put at risk. Other concerns surrounded the impact the new building will have on traffic in the area, and the effect it will have on those living next door, who could lose some of their privacy.
While the building sits alongside neighbouring houses architecturally, it comprises 13 flats, meaning there will be just eight more in total. Brent Council officers said the building, while taller than many in the area, would be “acceptable” in terms of height.
They added new trees would be planted to compensate for any lost during construction and, as a car-free development with permit restrictions, new residents will not be able to park nearby. Planning agent Lewis Westhoff, of Iceni Projects, said: “We’re really excited about this scheme and we see it as an exemplar way to optimise a corner site, deliver high quality sustainable new homes, improvements to the streetscene and high levels of urban greening.”
He added developers have worked “extensively” with council officers to ensure it is a suitable scheme that will have an “appropriate relationship” with neighbouring homes. The application was unanimously approved by the planning committee.