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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Parks, Planning and Building

I see that some people believe that Brent is keen to sell off, or build on parks. This idea seems to crop up every so often, but has very little substance.  There are occasional attempts to build on parks, but they tend to meet fierce resistance.  Such resistance lay behind the failure to prevent the demolition of Dollis Hill House, the rejection of the Greenhouse application in the Welsh Harp, the demise of a proposed land swap deal at Furness Pocket Park, the development of a free school in Gladstone Park and probably others I have forgotten about.

The only example I can think of of any development being allowed in a Brent park was the Sea Cadet building in Welsh Harp.  I don't think that really comes into this category.  As it happens I was on the Planning Committee that considered it, and I believe I swung the Committee round to reject the officers' recommendation to refuse.  The permission actually decreased the footprint of the building slightly although it had an extra storey.  In the context, I don't think there was any negative impact on park users.

In fact, building on parks is incredibly hard.  The public resist.  The political parties are similarly hostile.  Brent Labour Party has a long standing opposition to building on green spaces.  Above all, planning policy is highly resistant to building on a public park, regarding it as equivalent to green belt.  The proposal in King Eddy's for the London Welsh School will therefore be up against some very tough planning considerations.

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