Agenda item

Wembley Regeneration

A report setting out the vision and planning policy framework for Wembley, and describing the physical, economic and social regeneration being undertaken


The Chair advised that he and another member of the committee, Councillor Crane, had undertaken a tour of one of the new developments in Wembley in preparation for the item.


At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth Employment and Skills) introduced the report which provided an overarching view of the work and development being undertaken in Wembley. The committee heard that Wembley was the largest growth area in the borough and regeneration continued to deliver transformational change in the area. The report summarised the vision and planning policy framework for this change and focussed on the physical, economic and social aspects of the regeneration. In concluding her introduction, Councillor Tatler welcomed questions from members of the committee.


During the subsequent discussion it was noted that Quintain’s business model for its Wembley Park development had changed from sale to rental of its newly developed properties. Members therefore sought to clarify the landlord classification of Quintain and whether the council had undertaken any additional quantitative analysis for new planning applications from the developer. Further queries were raised regarding the use of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds. Members questioned; why CIL funds would be spent on replacing the pedestrian way (pedway) between Wembley Park underground station and Wembley Stadium; whether Wembley Stadium had contributed any money to the improvement works; whether the companies employed for these works had appropriate tax status in the UK; and, the extent of CIL investment in the wider infrastructure in Wembley.


The committee welcomed the community benefits being delivered by the Wembley Park regeneration but questioned whether these matched the council’s wider strategic aims. It was further queried to what extent the new developments met the Council’s planning guidance regarding height and density and concern was expressed that views of Wembley Stadium were being obscured. Members of the committee questioned why the council had permitted such a mix of architectural styles and queried what was being done to support cultural installations.


In response to members’ queries, Aktar Choudhury (Operational Director Regeneration) advised that Quintain was considered a  professional landlord, with the necessary institutions and processes to operate above the standard of the average landlord in the borough. Councillor Butt (Leader of the Council) emphasised that Quintain were required to meet the same standards set out for private landlords in the borough. It was confirmed that each planning application from Quintain had been subject to financial viability assessments, which provided a mechanism for financial review.


With regard to CIL funded infrastructure improvements, Councillor Tatler advised that the replacement of the pedway in Olympic Way was part of a wider works programme to improve the public realm of Wembley Park. Wembley Stadium was an iconic global brand and Brent residents would benefit from the improvement works, including through the employment and retail opportunities provided.  The decision to fund the works had been made in 2017 but the money had not yet been allocated nor had the planning application been submitted. It was intended that the works would be completed in time for the European Championships in 2020. Aktar Choudhury added that the contract for the works had not yet been awarded. It was also confirmed that Wembley Stadium had not yet committed any funds to the upgrade of Olympic Way. Councillor Tatler emphasised that the council would continue to work to realise its ambition for the Wembley Park area. Wider infrastructure improvements for Wembley were in progress, the funding streams for which included CIL.  Aktar Choudhury advised that a map would be shared with the committee outlining the various infrastructure improvements for Wembley for 2019-20, along with anticipated completion dates.


Councillor Tatler explained that the community benefits being delivered by Wembley regeneration met a number of the council’s strategic aims including offers around youth employment, improving digital access and provision of affordable workspaces for smaller businesses and community groups. Aktar Choudhury added that the neighbourhood CIL  process was responsive to community need and encompassed consultation with residents and ward councillors on which projects to support. Councillor Tatler emphasised that the council worked with developers to negotiate the delivery of community facilities and other benefits but noted that delivery would not always be immediate, nor could it be enforced by the council. 


The committee further heard from Councillor Tatler that Wembley had been identified in the London Plan as suitable for the kind of high-density developments underway. There were however, protected views of Wembley Stadium. Commenting on the aesthetics of the new developments, Councillor Tatler noted that this was a subjective matter but that design was considered via the planning process. Furthermore, it was an established approach to use a mix of designers for different developments in the same area to prevent an overly homogenised result. It was confirmed that there was a good cultural offer being delivered via the regeneration scheme including the provision of a theatre and a park.


During the discussion it was agreed that the following information requested by the committee but not available at the meeting, would be provided outside of the meeting: statistics for the levels of affordable housing provided at 50 and 60 per cent of the market rate. The Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills also offered to arrange for a tour of the Network Housing Block for members of the committee.


The Chair thanked the Lead Member and officers for their contribution to the meeting.


RESOLVED: that the Strategic Director of Resources provide a report to a future meeting of the committee on the Business Rates for Wembley Stadium detailing the reasons for the past reduction in rates.

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