Deputations (if any)
- Meeting of Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee, Thursday 12 September 2019 6.00 pm (Item 3.)
To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.
In relation to agenda item 8, Carlton and Granville Centre site update report, the following people made representation to the Committee:
• Mr Babikir and Mr Arai on behalf of Rumi’s Cave with Mr Arai presenting a joint deputation at the meeting.
• Leslie Barson presented a deputation on behalf of Granville Community Kitchen.
• David Kaye and Peter Firmin read a public question each.
The following key queries and issues were highlighted by the presenters during the aforementioned representations to the Committee.
Mr Arai (Rumi’s Cave):
Lack of engagement - The application did not demonstrate that relevant tests had been carried out to justify why an enterprise hub/work space was required and how older residents’ needs had been addressed. It totally ignored what was at the heart of the community and social wellbeing which was also supported by the statement of community involvement.
Since the Carlton Centre was closed for formal community activity, community groups have made use of spaces, often at low rents, to host events and to meet needs within the community e.g. to tackle loneliness through community activity and free community suppers, and to provide support, advice and educational opportunities to others. These are the kind of activities that cannot necessarily afford to rent or hire space at market rates, but offer considerable value to the health and wellbeing of society, and to the development of social capital.
Loss of Community Space - The Council's regeneration proposal for this site were clearly a “disbenefit” to the community as the Design and Access Statements (DAS) identified that the existing floor space occupied by the temporary tenants had not been included when calculating the existing provision. When comparing the existing floor area with the proposed it would appear that there was a net increase, however, when one included the floor space occupied by the temporary tenants which was designated as D1 use class under the Town & Country Planning Act, therefore, there was a loss of c. 450m2, - this was a major disbenefit of the proposal.
Housing Demand - Although, the Council was delivering 100% affordable housing, there was no evidence in the supporting application or planning statement that justified that local housing needs had been considered, nor did the application encouraged mobility between tenures as the proposed unit mix was 100% social rent. Yet the Social Economic profile data stated that South Kilburn had a higher proportion of lone parent households compared with Brent.
Housing Mix - Brent’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) document informed the Council’s position in relation to housing size mix for both market and affordable dwellings whilst taking account of Brent’s Core Strategy Policy CP2 of seeking 25% of new dwellings in the Borough to be 3 bed dwellings or more. The Social Economic profile data stated that South Kilburn had a higher proportion of lone parent households compared with Brent. In a statement made on the 27th August by a council officer it was suggested that this application was required to address overcrowding. However, there was no evidence in the supporting application or planning statement that justified that local housing needs had been considered, and the application did not encourage mobility between tenures as the prosed unit mix was 100% social rent. As a result, there was no justification of the mix, the need for an Enterprise Hub but more importantly no compelling argument to justify the loss of community floor space.
Ms Barson (Granville Community Kitchen):
The representation centred around the question of ‘how could the Scrutiny Committee continue to support Granville Carlton development?’. A letter was written to members of the Scrutiny Committee requesting them to closely look at the Cabinet decision. Ms Barson asked the Committee to particularly monitor and further scrutinise the following aspects:
· Family units seemed to be going from 28 to 18 with no guarantee of these being social/council housing.
· How would the Committee ensure that effective and workable safeguards were in place against noise, particularly, in hot summer when people and users would open windows and use balcony.
· Minimum social housing provision needed clarification and specific details.
· In relation to the paragraph 3.5c of the report, the ethos behind the Granville was that the small businesses ‘give back’ to the community so, social enterprise was at the heart of The Granville and community engagement - this required clarification.
· In relation to the paragraph 3.5d of the report, the democratic selection process and stakeholders group - Ms Barson stated that the stakeholders group was not democratic and transparent. The claim that the parameters were being worked out and finalised was unfair. She added that the entire passage was misleading and the group was yet to be decided and this must be monitored very carefully.
· There needed to be effective and robust checks and balances and the Committee must continue to monitor council performance and cabinet decisions.
Mr Firmin (Personal):
The representation centred around the question of ‘to what extent did proposals for the future of the Granville & Carlton Centre conform to what the scrutiny committee previously requested’?
· The scrutiny of the Council and its Cabinet was very important. The number of units for council housing was extremely important but in THE Cabinet’s response there was no mention of it. The Committee must follow through on its initial scrutiny session and other queries raised to achieve the best possible outcomes for the residents.
· With regards to open membership and democratic process of the stakeholders group, a Chair of Tenants Association in Kilburn never received any invitation to join – it seemed individuals were invited to express an interest therefore it was not a democratic process.
Mr Kaye (Personal):
Citing ‘local community representation. governance and democracy’ aspects touched upon in 3.4d and 3.5d, Mr Kaye stated that there was confusion, ambiguity and potential conflict of interest about the precise role of South Kilburn Trust in this scheme as they were a partner in the development. He was of the view that it was a real contradiction that responsibility of consultation was in the hands of a body that was a partner with the Council in the development. He asked that the Committee must investigate this close relationship which could have wider implication about the Council’s overall relationships and role.
Councillor Tatler, Brent Council’s Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning, responded and the following key points were noted:
· The Carlton and Granville was an important community asset.
· The unit mix had now been changed in favour of family units, which would all be council housing units – something which was missed out in the update report.
· Noise issue had been looked into and would be covered in the final scheme.
· There was a meeting with stakeholders and the proposal was not just for small businesses. The Council was looking more at social enterprise model.
· In relation engagement, it was noted that the entire South Kilburn Estate was canvassed however there were only three expressions of interest received in return. The process of engagement would be continuing. Three Local Ward Councillors elected democratically by local residents were also part of the stakeholders group. South Kilburn Trust was an independent group with the membership of their trustees open to the public. There would also be two new positions available to residents and local stakeholders through an open and transparent process.
· Councillor Tatler, along with residents and officers, would continue to work hard to make this a successful scheme that added value and benefitted the community.
In response to comments and questions posed by the Committee, the following significant points were highlighted:
The unit mix had now been re-considered in favour of larger family units. The scheme now being considered by planning officers was for 18 units, comprising 4 x 1 bed, 3 x 2 bed, 4 x 3 bed, 7 x 4 bed. The relevant units would be on social rent.
There was a need to clearly define ‘Social Enterprise’ and there was a need to do more work together with local entrepreneurs.
Referencing the elderly residents issue highlighted in the deputation, the Chair asked for the need to consider the issues of locally disadvantaged groups. Councillor Tatler agreed to consider the situation. She commented that a local hub would need to support all groups.
Details about ‘Social Work Space’ and ‘Community Floor Space’ were required along with clarity about which housing units were included in various calculations used considering comments about the existing Net Internal Area (NIA) and the possible variance in numbers, if any.
Stakeholders group was about bricks and mortars and what community needed and the decisions would be taken with the stakeholders not just by the Council.
The formal governance of the group was scheduled to be in place by the end of the year and the final decision rested with stakeholders.
Due to previous comments made at the Committee, clear actions had been taken as a result of recommendations made by the Resources and Public Realm Committee. For example, council homes, ventilation, comprehensive noise assessment, a governance structure as well as two new vacancies open to all to name some of the changes.
The Chair pressed about the noise issues. A Member also noted that ‘windows to be kept shut’ was a very weak response and there was a need to look beyond that. Another Member commented about the possible use of air conditioning and claims of naturally powered air conditioning should be carefully considered and tested. In response, it was noted that professionals were trying their best and it was included in the process of any development with all efforts being made to minimise the impact and comply with building regulations. Councillor Tatler indicated that she was happy to receive any recommendations from scrutiny members to consider. She assured that the modern technology was being used to mitigate as best as possible and tenants would be made aware.
In relation to engagement, it was noted that a variety of methods were used with 40 events taking place. Letters as well as emails were sent. However, with the best will in the world, one could not force everyone to come all the time. The conversation were much broader than emails.
In relation to anti-social behaviour monitoring and environment, Councillor Tatler indicated that there would be natural surveillance as well as permanent CCTV with the use of green technology and sustainable materials as much as possible. The safeguarding element was also being considered.