Housing stock - maintaining balance

Found the following statistics recently.  Slightly more Brent residents live in houses (54%) than in flats (46%).   The relatively high respective proportions of households living in semi or detached houses (35%) and in purpose built flats (27%) illustrates the range of Brent’s housing stock and the Borough’s diverse townscape; which ranges from suburbia in the North to very dense inner city streets of terraced houses and flatted blocks in the South.  Just over half of Brent’s households live in owner-occupier homes (54%) with most of the remainder either renting from a social landlord (25%) or privately (17%).

I am particularly interested in maintaining the balance between family housing and flat conversions. The borough has the policy to protect family-sized housing from avaricious developers.  It is therefore good to know that the planning service does sometimes refuse an application (using policy H17) that would result in the loss of “a small purpose-built family dwelling” failing to “aid in the retention of mixed and balanced communities through a variety of housing sizes.”
I am delighted therefore that some recent planning applications have been refused because of overdevelopment, loss of family housing or lack of adequate amenity. I had submitted objections to applications for properties in Kings, Meyrick and Huddlestone Roads and for Stevens Cottages and all were refused on good planning policy grounds.

Empty homes in Brent

I have been concerned that the council’s empty properties function had been scaled down. In a borough with an extreme need of more homes, this looked like a mistaken action to reduce costs. The empty property function moved into the Housing Solutions Team, resulting in a scaling down of the service.

The service has since been revived but only as a result of the council receiving external funding from the West London Housing Alliance to fund a long-term empty property officer post.  As part of the bid for this funding, 10 empty properties have been identified and the funding will be used to bring back the properties into use.  One is a well-known uninhabitable eyesore - 31 Dudden Hill Lane – where an earlier planning application in 2008 sought to convert the warehouse area into flats. However, this was refused. The hope is that this new grant will promote a new and successful application and some decent accommodation provided at the site.