Matalan site – our objection

We recognise that Matalan’s lease is expiring and that the large site can be put to good use to provide homes. Nevertheless, we must oppose the current application.

The development reaches excessive heights, rising more than 6m (two storeys) over a single neighbouring building and more above the rest of its surroundings. Moreover, it reaches its greatest heights at its most public, on Cricklewood Broadway, rather than inside the development and stepping down towards the edges. In this it breaches the Brent Tall Buildings Strategy and the preceding Brent Design Guide, under both of which it is categorised as comprising tall buildings merely by comparison to one neighbouring building, let alone its overall surroundings. It is not within any designated Tall Buildings Zone, the nearest within Brent being the distant and distinct Staples Corner zone.

We have been told that Brent’s own planners pressed for the peculiar height of the south-east corner despite its minimal contribution to the number of residential units, on the basis that it will form a “gateway” to Cricklewood. This seems misguided and deleterious.

● A tall gatepost is entirely contrary to the strategy of stepping down from tall buildings.

● The idea that Cricklewood would benefit from a tall marker is not one that people living in Cricklewood will recognise.

● We cannot imagine that commuters and HGV drivers on the A5 will be impressed by it or think they are entering a centre made more distinctive by a gateway.

● If this plan is approved, we can expect further developments to be approved on the same basis and to overtop it by another two storeys or more. Any effect it has as a gateway will soon be lost, except that in opening the door to yet higher development, it will act as a “gateway drug”.

The excessive overall size of the development is matched by the excessive number of units comprising it. The site is identified for development in the draft Local Plan (it is not so identified in the preceding one), on pages 224-225 as BSESA17 Cricklewood Broadway Retail Park. That encompasses the Matalan and Wickes sites, with an overall indicative capacity of 380 residential and commercial units, with timeframes of 5-10 years for 200 units and 10+ years for 180. The latter can be taken as being for Wickes’ part of the site, as their lease has another 10 years to run. This application for 238 residential units plus some commercial units is well in excess of the indicative capacity and that excess is accounted for by the excessive heights.

The development will not provide a positive addition for neighbours, local residents or road users. The bluff face of the Cricklewood Broadway frontage, normally in shade, would loom over road users, intrude on the visual amenity of the residents of the conservation area opposite and reflect road noise. The Temple Road frontage would stand closer to the Temple Road residents opposite than the existing Matalan building, exacerbating the effect of its greater height. Glass balconies will harm the privacy of tenants and neighbours. In nearby development such as Fellowes Square, we see such balconies filled with and exposing storage boxes, laundry and the overflow of living in minimum-size units. Site managers may try to control this usage and its impact; it would be better not to create temptation and conflict by design.

We look forward to seeing this site developed in a way that is more appropriate to its surroundings and more in keeping with the letter and spirit of Brent’s policies and plans.

Click here to make your own comments on this application and view the comments of other residents. The deadline is Thursday 20 February 2020.

Click here for our web-page about making objections, and here for Brent’s page “How to comment on a planning application“.

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