Last bricks are laid for 149 new homes in Harlesden

12 May 2021

A picture of two people wearing high visibility jackets and white hard hats placing bricks on a wall.There are smiles all around as Brent Council and Wates Residential gather to celebrate the topping out of 149 new council homes at Knowles House in Harlesden, marking the completion of the brickwork on the buildings.

The topping out ceremony was attended by representatives from Brent Council, including Operational Director for Housing, Hakeem Osinaike and Operational Director for Property and Assets, Nick Ljustina. They were also joined by Wates Residential’s Executive Managing Director, Helen Bunch and Operations Director, Glen Roberts.

Works at Knowles House will include the construction of two new buildings, including 92 homes that will be used as temporary accommodation for households waiting to be rehoused permanently by the council. The council decided to build its own temporary accommodation in the borough to provide better quality housing than is often available. The initiative will save around £1.63million per year that can be invested back into the New Council Homes Programme.

The development will also provide 57 homes that will enable people to live independently, whilst having access to support.

As part of the project, Wates Residential, which is part of leading privately-owned construction, property services and development company, the Wates Group, and Brent Council have also worked together to deliver a number of community initiatives in the local area, including:

  • Volunteered at Harlesden Town Garden to refresh the area following a period of neglect. The community garden is now being used to promote health, wellbeing, exercise and local food growing.
  • Partnered with Will Bayley MBE, a Paralympic gold medallist, to provide a unique table tennis masterclass to young people at Roundwood Youth Centre.
  • Provided employment and training opportunities for local people, including 32-year old Ana Ada who completed a four-week placement at Knowles House to gain essential experience.
  • Hosted the first ‘Construct a Career’ course in partnership with construction recruitment specialist, O’Neill & Brennan and learning provider, Cidori, to help participants gain work on a construction site.
  • Commissioned a local artist to brighten up the site hoarding along with a group of children from a local community centre.
  • Donated toys to the Brent Early Years team for children in care at Christmas.
  • Donated food to Newman Catholic College to support families in need.
  • Worked with contractors LLJ and Focus Logistics to carry out garden maintenance work at The Freeman Family Centre, to help build a garden oasis that can be used by visitors.

The topping out of these new homes marks both a major milestone for the development at Knowles House and also a big step towards the council’s aim of building 1,000 new council homes by 2024. Of these, 262 have already been built, 579 homes are on-site and 1,668 are in the delivery pipeline, meaning Brent is building more new homes than anywhere else in London, according to GLA figures.

Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said:

“Over the past year, it has become clearer than ever how important suitable and affordable homes are for everyone.

“This project is an opportunity for us to provide high-quality temporary accommodation and a safe home for people to live independently, as well as add value to the local area through our community projects with Wates Residential.

“The fact we have been able to continue with our ambitious new homes programme during a global pandemic is a huge achievement, and we will continue to do everything we can to help our community and work towards creating a fairer and more equal Brent.”

Helen Bunch, Executive Managing Director at Wates Residential, said:

“Topping out is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and signifies the completion of a building’s highest point. This milestone at Knowles House is a moment to be particularly proud of, especially given the additional pressure the pandemic has put on the delivery of these new homes for Brent.

“At the same time, it is remarkable that the team here at Knowles House have continued to work closely to support the local community with recent activity including redecoration work at Roundwood School and a careers talk at Newman Catholic College where we have also donated a cabin that is now used as a food bank. Community is always at the heart of our projects and the work at Knowles House is a prime example of how we establish a positive legacy.”