Feb 04 2015

Harrow’s Labour Administration to Slash and Burn Conservation Areas

conservative_logoOn 29th January there was a meeting of the first LDF Panel (a committee which deals with planning policy) since the Council election last year. The majority of the Panel are from the ruling political Party which is Labour.

At the meeting, a long awaited appraisal of the West Drive Conservation Area was placed before the Panel for their scrutiny. I say long awaited because it has taken years to get round to doing the much needed work to enshrine this lovely area into policy, which is known as an SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) such that it carries weight at appeal to the planning Inspectorate.

We were astonished to learn that consideration was being given to remove West Drive and West Drive Gardens from the West Drive Conservation Area.

The background to this was when the Conservatives were running the Council (2006 – 2010) we took the Conservation Areas very seriously and during that time we ensured that all Conservation Areas would be placed in the main Core Strategy within the new style development plan called the LDF (Local Development Framework). It is telling that Labour were not going to do any of this work and in fact were going to leave all of our Conservation Areas as ‘Guidances’, which would have meant that none of them, in places like Pinner, Harrow on the Hill, Edgware, Stanmore and Harrow Weald, would carry weight if tested at appeal.

During that time we also extended two Conservation Areas. One was an extension to the Tookes Green Conservation Area in Pinner to include Cecil Park, better known at Metroland. The other was a modest extension to the existing West Drive Conservation Area to include West Drive and West Drive Gardens. We did this because of the high standard of architecture and character of the houses, the openness and the wonderful trees and landscaping within the area. It was the residents who were requesting this because of the many inappropriate planning applications. Applications which could have damaged the appearance of the existing rooflines, the gaps between the dwelling houses, the wonderful landscaping of the area and to prevent the conversion of large houses into flats. We have had success since then at appeal and, in the round, people have been content with their inclusion in the Conservation Area because they know that the character of these roads is protected.

At the meeting it was the Labour Councillors, in particular Cllr. Anne Whitehead (a former Chairman of the Planning Committee) and Cllr. Hearnenden, who seemed keen to remove these roads. The idea was suggested that we go out to consultation to the residents asking them to justify why they should be included in the West Drive Conservation Area when in fact they are included and have been for many years. Both Cllr. Greek and I are puzzled as to why Cllr. Hearnenden should be so keen to make such a retrograde step when his own ward has so many wonderful Conservation Areas, some of the best in the UK. Surely he of all people must understand that once roads are placed in a Conservation Area to suggest that they are not ‘qualified’ and that the residents themselves should be forced to fight their own corner to remain included is quite bizarre and certainly not an encouragement to those who are keen to protect Harrow’s heritage.

The people of Harrow care about their environment and recognise why they like living in this part of the world. They should be warned that our heritage is not safe in the hands of these Councillors. Take a look at the views from St. Mary’s Church in Harrow on the Hill because very soon there will be a massive development before us. Far more massive than the previous unsuccessful attempt by Dandara to ruin our views to and from Harrow on the Hill. Thankfully, because of the Conservative administration, we were able to win an appeal on this site and our Conservation Areas are protected by robust adopted policy, but as for the future I have no confidence in Labour to protect our heritage. None whatsoever.

Cllr. Marilyn Ashton
Stanmore Park Ward

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  1. Yogesh

    Conservatives create the green suburbs, which help the residents to have a peaceful, quite and enjoyable Harrow. Labour creates concrete jungles as this helps to bring in more people in Harrow and make it into something that cannot be described here.

  2. Steve Wright

    Well said Marilyn, Once again it is this Labour ‘administration’ who have no interest in sustaining and improving the history and quality of our neighbourhoods, witness the recent attempts to close and thus destroy the Harrow Museum and the Harrow Arts Centre. If closed, these will not open again but I fear The Arts Centre will find it difficult to identify a sustainable plan to remain open without Council funds to support it. Once again, Labour are driven towards a ‘levelling down’, by killing off those areas we should protect and cherish.

  3. Jake

    Yes, let’s ignore the fact that young people desperately need places to live. All the older generation are interested in doing is maintaining the value of their BTL empires by blocking the building of new properties. No doubt Mrs Ashton lives in a very nice house and will finance her children’s future properties. For most of us this isn’t an option.

    Having lots if green space is nice, but we need places to live.

  4. Jake

    Mrs Ashton is quite happy to allow a lost generation, as long as nothing spoils “the appearance of existing rooflines”. What do you want us young families to do? Because I don’t think there is a place for us in your vision of Harrow.

  5. F.D.Billson

    Whave to steel ourselves against a savage onslaught by this Labour administration upon all the things we are proud of in Harrow . The vandalism that Labour intends to commit upon Pinner Park Farm is another case in point. Add this to the vulnerability of Harrow Arts Centre and Harrow Museum and the dangerous tampering with the policy concerning the West Drive Conservation Area as reported by Cllr Marilyn Ashton and you already have considerable areas of Harrow in great danger. This can only get worse because this Labour Administration is destructive and we need the Conservatives to protect Harrow and its residents against their ever increasing acts of vandalism.

  6. Jake

    All I see is political infighting. And it’s pathetic.

    The residents of Harrow are suffering and our councillors are engaged in petty tit for tat debates. No wonder the wider public look at politicians with contempt.

  7. sonoo malkani

    It’s a great shame that Harrow is now being turned from being a “green,leafy,suburb”to something akin to a concrete jungle,if this Labour administration gets their way.I am an ordinary citizen and am just as much against the desecration of our once beautiful borough as anybody else.

    The needs of young folk do have to be taken into account but not at the expense of the rest of the community.We cannot afford to deny our public access to the precious few resources left—such as our Harrow Arts Centre and Harrow Museum.It would rob our people of the little pleasures and heritage we enjoy and little by little leave Harrow an impoverished borough.

  8. Jake

    Sonoo, by any chance do you own a large house that you’d never be able to afford if you were required to buy it at today’s market price?

  9. sonoo malkani

    I assure you Jake that we started out like any normal couple,living very frugally all our lives,from the day we were married in 1970,skimped and saved hard to put aside a deposit to be able to get a mortgage with NO support from anyone.

    For many,long years we lived in a small rented room but slowly managed to buy a small flat and kept moving again and again, till we achieved our own home,which you seem to think is a mansion!It has only come about with a lot of blood sweat and tears—no family help,no government support,no benefits,nothing.We were determined to put a roof over our heads so we made sacrifices—not just during this austerity period but from DAY ONE —and are still doing this.It is a personal choice since we wished to be independent and not rely on anyone else.There was nobody to turn to.We came from India and simply put our heads down, worked like fury and saved every penny.I feel proud of the older generation who have made it,despite the odds.

    As a young couple we had dreams like anyone else but knew if we wished to have something to call our own we had to do this with our own hard labour.No regrets!No drain on the state.Just run our home like a tight ship form the very beginning.We stayed in and watched telly instead of going out to cinemas,restaurants and even for holidays.You only get from life what you put into it.We still live carefully,only spending what we can afford.None of this borrowing and running up debts which we cannot pay back!Everything we have, required BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS–including our home.

    Like most OAPS we are on an average,fixed budget.I have volunteered for the past forty years.No large pension to live in luxury as you might imagine.One learns to be better at MANAGING LIFE. as one gets on.I’m sure,were we a young couple again,we could do it all over again AND achieve a good family home in much the same way.I know so many who are doing this even now,using our tried and trusted formula—-GIVE UP SOMETHING to GAIN SOMETHING OF VALUE.

    I feel sorry our children are finding it very hard to get on the housing ladder.However they have parents to fall back on.We had NOBODY.There is help out there—low interest rates on house loans and government help to buy.The problem today is HEIGHTENED EXPECTATIONS.

    People want everything in an instant—patience seems to be a bad word!This is a world-wide phenomena .Once young folk learn to MANAGE their EXPECTATIONS their life will start to evolve in line with their aspirations.I wish there was a magic wand but since there’s none we must cope with the reality in the best possible manner,by STANDING ON OUR OWN FEET.

    The dependency culture must end and people given the opportunity to become independent.All these things help build character.They must stop expecting good things to just fall into their laps.There’s nothing like HARD WORK,SAVINGS,FOLLOWED BY ACHIEVEMENT which spells SUCCESS.I can almost hear my boarding school nuns saying,GRIT AND GRIND.

    We golden oldies take pride in making sacrifices in order to fulfill our dreams and not be a drain on the country.I have no doubt this could be done all over again!Trust in God and in your self.Nothing is impossible with diligence,determination and His blessings.

    Yes,I have no doubt,if push came to shove I could do what you have stated even if I was starting as a young person today—in fact much,much more.Life has so much more to offer today since the world is a global village.Young folk can go to any part of the world and kae their fortune!

    God bless our young ones and help them be winners and achievers like their elders.

    1. F.D.Billson

      What an admirable reply ! So right ! I congratulate Sonoo for his wisdom and common sense born out of his experience of life. Unfortunately the nanny state of today has brought an end to those principles expressed by Sonoo.

  10. Someonewhocares

    Without wanting to stray too far from the topic the undeniable key indicator is simply “how many times the average wage does it take to buy a house”? A comparison between that ratio in the 70s & 80s and the 90s & 10s tells you all you need to know.

    Exactly *why* that happened is another debate

  11. sonoo malkani

    Thanks FD Billson for standing up for those of us who believe in the value of hard work and its many rewards.It seems some feel offended by my old-fashioned values.

    By the way,I am a lady who has also been a carer for the past forty-one years but have never applied for benefits. I am so grateful that we have an NHS which has been crucial in the care of my loved one.This is ongoing.

    Readers,please don’t get me wrong.I feel keenly for our youth and still my best to help their cause.However, I’m not one for feeling sorry and doing nothing to get on with one’s life.Make the best of each day with the cards life has dealt you.Only then will the darkness be dispelled and light filter into your life,slowly but surely.

    By the way,I know several young people who are NOT keen to buy since they wish to move around freely,leave their options open etc.Some don’t wish to marry and have all the pressure of a family home,mortagage etc.Good renting options should be made possible.

    We live in a different world,don’t we!People view life in a variety of ways which most of my generation find lacks stability.Slow and steady helped us win the race but today people want instant gratification.I believe the best things in life are free—-the beautiful sky,the sun and moon,rain,snow,wind and all that nature bestows on us equally which is why I am all for conservation.We owe it to ourselves as well as to future generations.

  12. Someonewhocares

    There are sadly a large number of young families who will never be able to afford to buy their own house in the current climate – again over the last 30 years or so salaries have probably tripled but house prices increased over ten fold. Thus”hard work’ will probably never bridge that gap for many – and do we really live in a world where young folks have to wait for parents to croak or indulge in ‘equity release’ so they CAN buy ? The young are now faced with student loans, ‘zero-hours’ contracts and the like…

    Yes the World IS different now; Unfortunately the artificially-inflated house (and rent) prices are responsible for much of that, and politicians and bankers did (and colluded towards) it…

  13. sonoo malkani

    Let’s hope someone comes up with a creative idea to help youth get their own little nest which will suit their pocket and give them a start.

  14. Someonewhocares

    I applaud your optimism Sonoo but do not share it; Nobody will provide such a ‘creative’ scheme.

    Mixing metaphors maybe but it is a ‘pipe dream’ – as most young folks are too busy paying the high rents to develop ‘nest eggs’ for house purchase deposit purposes.

    After the whole ‘sub prime’ mess post-08 they also tightened up mortgages (after the ‘horse had bolted’) too.

    Indeed part of the mess is surely because too many bankers became too ‘creative’?

  15. Anne Jones

    Another factor to be taken into is Estate agents inflating prices within the Borough,young families & low income single people I am afraid to say do not come into the equation.

    In mid 2013 a maisonette sold for £215,000 3 months later same estate agent put another one exactly the same next door for £250,000,then another one (these are in blocks of four & there are 6 blocks) for £300.000 a few weeks later which meant another 1 increased it,s price.

    A recent valuation put another one at £330,000+,it is a shame but people like Jake are not in the equation with estate agents.

  16. Someonewhocares

    £330,000? Surely a ‘bargain’, at ‘only’ 15 times the average salary here then!

  17. Jake

    I’m sorry Sonoo, but hard work has got nothing to do with it. My girlfriend and I both have degrees and work in “the professions”. We work crazy hours and earn comparatively good salaries, putting aside at least 25pc of our take home.

    We tried to buy a house last year after eight (yes, eight!) years saving. We got close, but in the space of 6 months prices had increased by about 50-70k, almost competent negating our almost decade of saving.

    I stand by my initial argument that people like yourself and the author are simply protecting your own lifestyle at the expense of an entire generation.

  18. sonoo malkani

    I am very sorry you have had this experience but it might surprise you to learn we were gazumped and felt bitterly disappointed several times before finally compromising and getting what we could!I do feel it would be great for young folk to get started and feel saddened to think you feel all the older generation are simply protecting their own life style at the expense of your generation.What a load of non-sense!we did not have all the support that is still available today and simply had to make do.I bet you don’t stay in and never go to a restaurant,or on a holiday or even to the cinema to save every penny.Our generation had the guts to do it.Now it’s your turn!

  19. Jake

    Sonoo, you really have no idea.

    If it makes you feel better about your privilege to believe that you somehow worked or saved harder than me, feel free. But I doubt it’s true.

    And what is this support you keep going on about? I don’t have a rich mummy and daddy. I’m not eligible for any benefits. Help To Buy actually inflated house prices (as I’m sure it was designed to do). It’s been extremely hard to save due to extremely low interest rates. Employment opportunities and wages remain extremely unstable. Kids are leaving uni now with 40k of debt. Please tell me where all this support is, because I’ll gladly take it.

    And let me assure you, our expectations are not unrealistic. I’m not looking to be a pop star, xfactor winner or reality TV star – I’m an IT manager and my partner is a qualified accountant. But even then, we have little job security.

    Enjoy your conservation areas and your lovely neat roof lines… There’s clearly no place in your vision of Harrow for us.

  20. Someonewhocares

    Jake I know there are many other couples like you who have simply ‘given up trying’, too, low interest rates and inflation are bad enough in themselves in affecting your savings but the disproportionate rise in property prices is something else.

    Sonorous – if we had the Scottish system gazumping simlpy would not happen at all!

  21. Jake

    Equally, if you look at house prices over the last 30 years adjusted for inflation, back in 1980 I could have bought a house outright with the deposit I’ve built up. Today it barely gives me 25%. So again, Sonoo you have no idea what hard work is.

  22. sonoo malkani

    WE also have no rich mummy or daddy to see us on our way.Anyway,it’s obvious we have totally different view points.Good luck to everybody!Let’s say I agree to differ instead of wasting my breath needlessly.

    YOU have no idea what hardship is.We came into a foreign land with racism quite openly bandied about,no body we knew except the good Lord.Ours was an arranged marriage.So adjusting to the very cold climate,new country new man in my life overnight—my husband—and a long list of other things was no picnic.I had to sell my wedding clothes to buy boots a coat and other basic things to get out and find a job.Of course,that too was exceedingly hard for me having never been allowed to go and work outside in an office and YOU have the nerve to tell me I have not worked hard.You have it easy by comparison.!Look at the handicap even BEFORE I started working.Please do not pour scorn on us oldies just because you envy the way we have managed to turn our lives around.I regret NOTHING but am proud to not have to EXPECT OTHERS to take care of me in the way you guys do.

  23. Someonewhocares

    Good grief Sonoo – that’s quite an outburst, and not exactly ‘agreeing to disagree’ either!

    As far as I can see no-one indicated you did not work hard or have a hard start in life. however what was stated is that it is very hard indeed THESE DAYS to get on the property ladder without help.

    Back on topic should we not be musing on why the Council Planners now allow such huge monstrosities to be erected in back gardens and then the Council prevent folks from renting them out to relatives ?

  24. Jake

    Sonoo, the only one claiming anyone worked harder than anyone else is you. Your first comment clearly insinuated that young people expected too much and should work harder.

    I’ve tried to bring you back to the main topic numerous times (hint: the housing crisis) but you don’t seem able to engage properly with the debate.

    Also, for future reference, the phrase “let’s agree to disagree” is not normally followed by an essay explaining why you disagree.

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