West London council accepts loss of listed building to approve mixed-use college redevelopment

Councillors in the London Borough of Brent have approved plans for the redevelopment of an adult education centre, after finding the benefits of the proposed development outweighed the ‘highly regrettable’ loss of a locally listed building.

A CGI of plans for the Morland Garden development. Image: Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture
A CGI of plans for the Morland Garden development. Image: Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture

Plans for Morland Gardens, which were proposed by the local authority, also include 750 square metres of affordable workspace and 65 affordable homes.

The development involves demolishing an existing locally listed building, known as the Stonebridge Centre and used as an adult education centre, to make way for a new building ranging in height from two to nine storeys.

Officers recommended approval, noting that demolition of the Victorian-era building would be “highly regrettable”, but advising that the proposed development would offer “substantial social and economic benefits” which would “significantly outweigh” the harm caused.

According to a planning committee report, 48 objections were received alongside two petitions, with a total of 366 signatories, against the proposals.

Officers said the existing building had been the subject of “a number of significant extensions and external alterations” since it was built in the 1880s, but was nevertheless considered “to make a positive contribution to the townscape and character of the local area”.

However, the proposed new building was described as being of “an exceptional design” which would “significantly enhance the character and appearance of the surrounding area”.

The council says that the new education centre will provide new classrooms, offices, IT suites, a cafe and multifunctional spaces for the adult education college, "improving the educational offer". Officers noted benefits of the proposed development including the delivery of 65 homes, all of which would be made available at rents in line with the London mayor's affordability benchmarks, and the provision of affordable workspace.

“Even were members to disagree with officers' view on the quality of the replacement building and its positive contribution to the townscape, the case in favour of the grant of planning permission would remain a clear and convincing one,” they concluded.

The project has been shortlisted in the 2020 Planning Awards in the mixed-use development category. This year’s awards ceremony takes place on 24 September.

Last month, Brent approved plans for a 509-home mixed-use scheme on a designated industrial site, despite the loss of commercial floorspace.

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